Iran news round up – January 13, 2015

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: President Rouhani warned Riyadh of the economic consequences it will face from falling oil prices, while Ali Shamkhani highlighted Tehran’s strategies to counter Petropolitics.

President Hassan Rouhani said plunging oil prices pose a greater economic threat for Saudi Arabia than Iran, claiming that 80 percent of Riyadh’s revenue comes from oil. Ali Shamkhani, meanwhile, underscored the regime’s commitment to the Supreme Leader’s Economy of Resistance strategy and called for increased regional cooperation to counter political influence over oil price. The Supreme National Security Council Secretary added that a continued economic relation with Iraq is a formidable hedging strategy against unjust sanctions. Iranian officials continue to coalesce around the term ‘resistance’ in economic and defense sectors, echoing Khamenei’s calls for self-sufficiency and indigenous development. A recent spike in the oil crisis, however, could heavily problematize implementation of any substantive policies of economic ‘resistance.”

Official Statements

  • Rouhani: “Saudi Arabia will lose more than Iran with falling oil prices.” President Hassan Rouhani said that the designers of the falling oil prices will regret their decision and pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s economy depends on oil for 80% of its government revenues. Rouhani added that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries like Kuwait will be hurt by the falling oil prices more than Iran. (Fars News Agency)
  • Naghdi on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending the Paris rally. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi says the West is using the media as a tool to incite sedition since they have been unable to do so through the use of weapons since the 2009 Green Revolution. The Basij Organization Commander added that, “Netanyahu’s presence at the front of the Paris rally as a leader of anti-terrorism, after the murder of 2 thousand people this past summer in Gaza is ‘media magic’.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Hadi al-Amiri denies Iran’s military presence in Iraq. Head of Badr Organization Hadi alAmirisaid Iran’s role in Iraq is limited to providing advice and military aid to the Iraqi military, and that weapons are being officially purchased directly through the Iraqi Ministry of Defense from Iran. Al-Amiri denied claims that Iran has conducted air strikes against ISIL along the Iraq-Iran border and said that Iraq does not need Iranian fighter planes. He added that the Iraqi government is investigating allegations of international air support for ISIL and will provide any evidence in support thereof to the international community; al-Amiri blamed the US in particular for supporting ISIL. (ISNA)
  • Jalali discusses the changing nature of passive defense. IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, said Iran must re-orient its passive defense strategy to counter American attempts to foster dissatisfaction with the government among the people. The Head of the Passive Defense Organization also stressed the importance of a “resistance economy,” citing the need to become self-sufficient in rice production rather than relying on imports from India. Jalali separately claimed that a number of Russian universities had requested Iranian training on passive defense. (Defa Press)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Shamkhani meets with Iraqi Oil Minister in Tehran. Ali Shamkhani met with Adel Abdol Mahdi to promote continued economic relations, between Baghdad and Tehran. Shamkhani highlighted the close ties between the two neighbors in the oil and gas sector, calling their relationship a model for other nations. The Supreme National Security Council Secretary added: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is moving based on the economy of resistance strategy, in addition to hedging strategies against the unjust sanctions, to promote economic power based on cooperation with neighboring countries and the elimination of political influence over the price of oil.” (IRNA)
  • Zarif calls for greater EU role in resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with the new Greek Ambassador to Tehran and called for closer bilateral relations. Zarif also stressed the important role of the EU member-states in helping facilitate a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. (Mehr News)

Military and Security

  • Commander discusses history and mission of Saberin Special Operations Unit. Brig. Gen. 2C Amman Allah Goshtasabi, Saberin Special Operations Unit Commander, stated that the Unit was formed for the purpose of “accepting difficult missions and specific and special operations in all…areas of land, air, maritime, and supplying security of the country.”
    • He noted that the first commander of the Saberin was IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, and that “14 years have passed [since the founding of the Saberin in 1998], and in the missions entrusted to the Saberin, good results were achieved for the set of the ground forces and the IRGC.”He noted that a primary distinguishing characteristic of the Saberin is the voluntary basis of enlistment, and that “…the most experienced combat forces” are accepted.
    • Asked how the Saberin mission differs from that of other special forces like the IRGC Qods Force and the Artesh Nehad Brigade, Goshtasabi responded, “Our kind of mission is different from the ‘Nehad’ in every direction. The mission of the IRGC is the protection of the values and ideals of the Islamic Revolution internally and deal with foreign groups and enemies….In the Saberin, both inside and outside our borders, we protect the gains of the revolution… [This] is not only our duty but is also assigned to other special units.” (Defa Press)
  • Qods Force member killed in Syria. Funeral services were held on January 11 in Eshtehard, Alborz province for IRGC Qods Force member Hossein Ahmadi, who was killed by a mortar reportedly defending the Seyyeda Zeinab Shrine in Damascus. Ahmadi was present “since the beginning of the conflict in Syria.” (ABNA)
  • Purpose of military exercise was to assess force capabilities in emergencies and against the enemy. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, Artesh Ground Forces Commander, spoke about the December Mohammad Rasoul Allah military exercises at a funeral service for 3rd Lt. Ali Khoshkalam who was killed on January11 in Sistan va Baluchistan province. Pourdastan stated the purpose of the exercises was to assess the abilities of the Artesh to react to sudden events and confront the enemy. Pourdastan added that the exercises had a positive psychological effect in showing that the Artesh forces will show no fear and fight ‘tooth and nail’ against the ‘global arrogance’ [the West] (Defa Press)

By AEI Critical Threat

 

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