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: Senior IRGC commanders signaled potential retaliatory action from Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) in response to recent Israeli airstrikes in Syria. Iran and Russia considered steps to further cooperation on economic and defense sectors. Foreign Minister Zarif met with the President and First Executive Officer of Afghanistan in Kabul.
IRGC commanders signaled that LH would lead the response to the January 18 airstrike in Quneitra, Syria, which killed IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi and several LH members. Armed Forces General Staff Strategic and Oversight Affairs Deputy IRGC Major General Mostafa Izadi said, “Muslim fighters will take a firm and powerful revenge,” while Head of IRGC Public Affairs Brigadier General 2nd Class Ramezan Sharif stated the type and size of LH’s “vicious and frightening” response will be at its discretion. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei also said that LH would retaliate for this act of “terrorism.” Tehran’s rhetoric and Lebanese Hezbollah’s lead role in any retaliatory actions may indicate that Iran is not eager to open up a new, potentially escalatory front with Israel at this time.
Russian state media has reported that Moscow may finally deliver S-300 missile defense systems to Tehran in retaliation of Western economic and political pressure. Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow said that some of the barriers to agreement within the framework of the Joint Economic Commission can be removed with little effort, while Russian Colonel General Leonid Ivashov said that “A step was taken in the direction of cooperation on the economy and arms technology.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, and National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar in Kabul to discuss mutual relations. Ali Shamkhani stated earlier this month that NATO’s departure from Afghanistan would allow for renewed cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan on security issues.
- Supreme Leader addresses Iranian athletes, calling on them to demonstrate moral virtues.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned about global media efforts to promote immorality and said, “…demonstration of symbol of spirituality by a young Iranian athlete, indeed, shows the Iranian nation’s moral resistance capability against such a huge deviating wave in the world.” The Supreme Leader added that the Islamic Republic produces champions in all fields and international competition provides an opportunity to showcase Iranian perseverance and resistance. (Khamenei.ir)
- Rouhani renounces terrorism and religious provocation. President Hassan Rouhani addressed the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council on religious satire and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo:
- “The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns terror, violence and extremism under the pretext of religion, and also the insulting, cursing, and sensational provocation of followers of religions in the name of freedom.”
- “The Islamic Republic of Iran fundamentally condemns these acts and violence and is not related to Muslims or to Islam.”
- “Those who terrorize and create violence in the name of Muslims and Islam betray the faith; fortunately, their ugly and obscene work is condemned by great scholars and thinkers of the Islamic world, and all Muslims renounce this behavior.”
- “The Islamic Republic of Iran is the messenger and flag-bearer of action against violence, extremism, and terrorism…” (Rouhani.ir)
- Jafari speaks at funeral procession for IRGC Qods Force brigadier general killed in Syria.IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated at the funeral ceremony for IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi, “the combination of martyrs in the region of Quneitra shows the unity of the Muslim ummah [community] and the realization of a major part of the lofty goals of the Islamic Revolution, and gives hope to the promise of victory for dear Jerusalem itself.” Jafari discussed Allah Dadi’s previous service, including his role providing “education assistance” in Lebanon for the Qods Force. He stated that the “message of this martyrdom” is that “it is not possible to stop the freeing of dear Jerusalem, and [causing] this disgraceful stain [Israel] to fade in a predominately Muslim region continues.” (Sepah News)
- IRGC commander warns Israel of strong response to Sunday’s airstrikes in Syria. Maj. Gen. Mostafa Izadi said Israel will pay for killing IRGC Brig. Gen. Allah Dadi and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters. The Armed Forces General Staff Strategic and Oversight Affairs Deputy added: “now they know that they will receive a crushing response… Muslim fighters will take a firm and powerful revenge for the blood of these martyrs.” When asked about Israel’s claim that it was unaware of the IRGC General’s presence prior to launching the airstrike, Izadi said that Israel was well aware, adding that the Israelis’ claim was made out of “fear.” (Sepah News)
- Sharif: Hezbollah response to Israeli attack will be vicious and frightening. IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif stated that Lebanese Hezbollah response to the “terrorist attacks” by the Zionist Regime will be vicious and frightening. The Head of IRGC Public Affairs added that the type and size of response will be the decision of Lebanese Hezbollah. (Defa Press)
- Dehghan: Israel’s actions will not go unanswered. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan expressed his condolences for several Lebanese Hezbollah members and an IRGC General killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria and condemned the “brutal and savage attack.” Dehghan vowed the resistance will continue until the elimination of the Zionist Regime and promised that Iran will arm the West Bank. Concerning a potential US attack against Iran, Dehghan said that if you show courage and bravery against the US, the US will flee. (Fars News Agency)
- Rezaei: Hezbollah will retaliate against the Zionist regime for its recent act of terrorism.Mohsen Rezaei said Israel had carried out airstrikes in Syria in order to forestall a government operation from cutting off its links to the al Nusra Front, the branch of al Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary claimed Israel has provided weapons to al Nusra and other takfiri groups in Syria. (ISNA)
- Kowsari: Israel’s attack on Hezbollah in Syria proves its support for ISIL. Mohammad Esmail Kowsari said those martyred by the recent Israeli airstrike in Syria went to that country to fight terrorism at the request of the Syrian government and people. The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member added that Syria reserves the right to respond militarily to Israel’s provocation. (Tasnim News Agency)
Military and Security
- Iran continues to press Russia to deliver S-300 missile system. According to Russia’s RIA state news agency, Moscow may deliver S-300 missile defense systems to Tehran in retaliation for the West’s economic sanctions and political pressure on Iran Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, said, “A step was taken in the direction of cooperation on the economy and arms technology, at least for such defensive systems such as the S-300 and S-400. Probably we will deliver them.” Ivashow, the former head of Russia’s Defense Ministry’s Department of International Cooperation was referring to the defense agreement signed by Tehran and Moscow this week. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Border Guards Commander describes assignment of recruits to border posts. Brig. Gen. Qassem Rezaei said conscripts serve their compulsory service term in one of four border regions closest to their residence. The Border Guards Commander added that troops receive training in a “semi-operational” zone before their deployment begins. (ISNA)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Judiciary Head calls for the revision of the Foreign Ministry’s interaction with the West and condemns insult to Islam. Sadegh Amoli Larijani called the repeated defamation of Islam and creation of Islamophopia in Western media “unacceptable” and intolerable, and advised government officials to respond and say that there is no excuse for blasphemy.
- Larijani stressed that the anti-oppressive teachings of Islam is not easily accessible to everyone in the world, because the enemy always obstructs this movement.
- Larijani called Lebanese Hezbollah and the IRGC the honor of the Islamic world in the fight against ‘takfiri’ terrorist groups, and said that they represent the fight for the preservation of Shia and Sunni independence.
- Larijani added that the bond between takfiri and Salafi terrorist groups and enemies of Islam and the terrorist regime [Israel] exposes the lies regarding their defense of Islam and the Syrian people.
- Larijani concluded that the Islamic Revolution led to the movement of the Muslim Awakening and that any country that follows the rational and logical Shia way will resist the ‘enemy.’ (Mehr News)
- Zarif meets with President Karzai. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with former Afghan President on the sidelines of his meetings in Kabul with Afghan officials. Zarif also met with Nicholas Haysom, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, Ashraf Ghani, Afghan President, and Hanif Atmar, Afghan National Security Advisor, to discuss mutual relations. (Javan Online)
- “Islamic countries are united against Israel.” Ali Larijani and his Turkish counterpart Jamil Chichek attended the tenth annual session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states in Turkey. The Parliament Speaker said that all Muslim countries should stand united against the Zionist regime’s aggression including the recent terrorist attacks by this regime. Chichek said Iran and Turkey, as two influential countries in the region, need to improve relations and should increase cooperation in the political, economic, and cultural sphere. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Boroujerdi sends condolences to Nasrallah after Israeli airstrike. In a message addressed to Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi delivered condolences for those martyred in Israel’s recent airstrike on Hezbollah forces in Syria. Boroujerdi also wrote that Israel’s intent was to weaken the regional “axis of resistance” against terrorism and occupation. (IRNA)
- Mehdi Sanaei meets with Ilyas Umakhanov. Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow said that some of the barriers to the development of Iran-Russia relations, especially agreements within the framework of the Joint Economic Commission, can be removed with little effort. The Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council called for the participation and investment in a joint venture to complete the construction of hydropower plants in the Autonomous Republic of Dagestan. Umakhanov also invited Sanaei to visit the Republic along with relevant authorities (especially in the energy sector) in order to become more familiar with the Republic’s economic capabilities and to develop further relations. (ISNA)
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