A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Diana Timmerman and Warren Marshall. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online
Key takeaway: Venezuelan President Maduro met with the Supreme Leader and President Rouhani in Tehran to discuss measures to stabilize oil prices, while IRGC Commander Jafari said that Iran should remain committed to resisting pressure from the West.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and pointed to the falling oil prices to underscore the importance of multilateral cooperation in countering OPEC’s strategy to flood the market with cheap oil. President Hassan Rouhani echoed Khamenei’s call for increased cooperation to stabilize global oil prices during the meeting with President Maduro. Rouhani also said his administration will pursue enhanced bilateral relations with Venezuela in various economic sectors and counter-terrorism, underscoring the regime’s broader effort to expand its relations in Latin America.
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari touted the Islamic Republic’s global reach, attributing the Islamic Awakening to the regime’s revolutionary ideals. Jafari pointed to Iran’s first president, stating that Abol Hassan Bani Sadr “believed in negotiating with the enemy aggressor; but Imam Khomeini said a great ‘no’…” Bani Sadr was a reformist president who was impeached in 1981. Jafari added that unless the Islamic Republic is fighting against the oppressors, it is not in line with the principles of political Islam, implicitly criticizing the Rouhani administration’s initiatives to expand its relations globally. Jafari may also have been responding to Rouhani’s pragmatic admissions about foreign policy in his January 5 speech: , “At the nuclear negotiating table, neither they nor we discuss principles and ideals; in today’s world the discussion is about interests and each country is seeking their own interests and desires, the basis of foreign policy debate is interests rather than principles and ideals.”
Mehdi Nowruzi, a Basij commander from Kermanshah Province, was killed by ISIL militants in Samarra, Iraq. Nowruzi was reportedly training Iraqi volunteer fighters, under the command of IRGC Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi, who was killed on December 28, in Samarra. Tehran maintains that it is not militarily engaged in Iraq, and that it only provides advisory assistance to Baghdad.
- Jafari: the Islamic Awakening is attributed to Iran-Iraq War. Commander of the IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated that “the radius of the Islamic Awakening, in the words of our beloved Leader, has gone to Europe and America, as a result of this period [of the Iran-Iraq War]; although some are trying to pinpoint only the failures and complications of the Sacred Defense.” Jafari also said that the “successes of the revolution reach back to the “golden age of the Iran-Iraq War.” Jafari also said that the Islamic Republic’s first president Abol Hassan Bani Sadr “believed in negotiating with the enemy aggressor; but Imam Khomeini said a great “no” to him, Bani Sadr left, then unity between the Artesh and the IRGC was formed; we see how the tremendous force of the people brings countless successes.” Jafari added that unless the Islamic Republic is fighting against the oppressor and bullying nations, it is not in line with the principles of political Islam. (Sepah News)
- “The government should confess to the withdrawal of $4.1 billion.” Tehran Representative MP Ali Motahari in his speech at an open session of parliament advised the government that it was better to confess and apologize to the state for the withdrawal of $4.1 billion from the National Development Fund. Reformist MP Motahari, referencing to the 2009 presidential elections, said that the detention of presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi without a warrant was un-constitutional. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Larijani: The creation of new economic resources is a counterweight to the other side’s bullying in the nuclear negotiations. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that while Iran hopes that the nuclear negotiations will be successful, Iran must create new economic resources for itself as a guarantee against the other side’s bullying. Specifically, Larijani described the need to solve economic problems such as high inflation, government debt to private contractors, and lack of investment in industry, agriculture, and infrastructure. (Fars News Agency)
- Parliamentarian calls for unity against Saudi Arabia concerning oil prices. Parliamentarian Mohammad Saleh Jokar said that unity within OPEC is needed to confront Saudi Arabia concerning oil prices. Saleh Jokar claimed that falling oil prices is part of an economic war by the US and Saudi Arabia against Iran and Russia. He also stated that through full and vigorous diplomacy other OPEC countries should take a stand against Washington and Riyadh and added that many other Arab countries in the Persian Gulf were suffering from the low price in oil. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Sharif stresses key role of Islamic Revolution discourse. Head of IRGC Public Affairs Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif emphasized the powerful role of public discourse in advancing the Islamic Revolution. Sharif pointed to the Supreme Leader’s statement early in the Syrian civil war that the Syrian people would not let the enemy interfere in its affairs as an example of the power of discourse. Sharif further attributed the recent Paris terrorist attack to ISIL and said the incident was a consequence of the West’s actions in Syria. (Sepah News)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Basij member killed in Iraq. Mehdi Nowruzi was shot and killed by ISIL militants in Samarra, Iraq. Nowruzi was reportedly defending the Al-Askari shrine (burial site of the tenth and eleventh Shi’a Imams), in Samarra. Nowruzi was a member of the Command Council of the Shahid Timoori Nia Basij Base in Kermanshah. (ABNA)
- Afghanistan and Iran to sign a strategic agreement. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to travel to Tehran in order to sign a strategic cooperation agreement. The bilateral agreement includes cooperation on counter-terrorism, the peace process in Afghanistan, refugee relocation, and enhanced economic ties. (Al Arabiya)
- Venezuelan President meets with Supreme Leader. Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela, met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and they spoke about cooperating to decrease the production of oil in OPEC and stabilize prices. The Supreme Leader expresses a desire to continue and increase relations and cooperation with Venezuela and expresses appreciation for Venezuela’s courageous stance against the “Zionist regime.” (Fars News Agency)
- Rouhani meets with Venezuelan president. President Hassan Rouhani met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and said “Without a doubt, cooperation of countries aligned with OPEC can, besides thwarting the plans of some powers [who are] against OPEC, can help establish an acceptable price for oil in 2015.” Rouhani said that “Development of relations with Latin American countries such as Venezuela” is among the policies of his administration. Rouhani discussed the possibility of bilateral cooperation with Venezuela in the areas of housing, construction, and industry, as well as on the issues of terrorism and extremism. (Fars News Agency)
- Rouhani says Iran is looking to increase collaboration with Cyprus. President Hassan Rouhani met with Cyprus FM Ioannis Kasoulides and stressed the importance of further developing bilateral relations in the political, economic, and cultural arena, as well as increasing multilateral cooperation in the fight against extremism and violence. Rouhani added that Cyprus, as a Member of the European Union, can play a more effective role in the strengthening of ties between Iran and the EU. Kasoulides, referring to the changes in policies of the EU in combatting terrorism, especially in Syria, stated that “Today, the EU in Syria, is looking for a peaceful solution and is thinking about Iran’s role and position in establishing peace and stability in the region.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Military and Security
- Jazayeri: Future military exercises will strengthen our defense. Commenting on future Mohammad Rasoul Allah exercises, Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) Headquarters Basij Affairs and IRGC Defense Culture Deputy Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri said the strong link between the IRGC and Artesh had been influential in improving the country’s military capabilities. (Defa Press)
- New Air Defense system will target medium and high altitude targets. Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili, Artesh Khatam ol-Anbia Air Base Commander, spoke concerning the development of the Bavar 373 surface to air missile defense system and stated that they still do not know when development will be complete, but mentioned that when testing is ready the media will be informed. Esmaili said that the S 200 Talash 2 and 3 missiles are currently capable of targeting low, medium, and high altitude targets. (Defa Press)
- Zarif and Ryabkov discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Tehran. Zarif praised Moscow for its constructive role in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations. Ryabkov added: “Moscow and Tehran’s friendly and close relations necessitates that we unleash our potential and help a speedier settlement of Iran’s nuclear issue.” (IRNA)
- Iran must be prepared to pay a price for “national honor” regarding nuclear program. Ali Akbar Salehi, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, gave an interview addressing concerns over the high cost of the nuclear program and Iran’s global isolation. Salehi stated that nuclear energy is essential for the welfare of the Iranian nation since it is unwise to depend entirely on non-renewable fossil fuels. Salehi mentioned that the US, Germany, France, and Britain supported nuclear reactors in Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution. He stressed the importance of nuclear technology in the field of medicine and agriculture, and stated that the West maintains a double standard concerning nuclear technology and dismissed claims that the Arak Heavy Water is unsafe or could lead to an incident like Chernobyl. (Tasnim News Agency)
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