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, Farzin Farzad, Diana Timmerman and Warren Marshall. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key takeaway: IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari and senior officials reiterated the regime’s unwavering commitment to Hezbollah, while Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against attacking Hezbollah again.
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari praised Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) and said its response to Israel on January 28, was as if it were Iran’s response. Jafari added: “Anywhere the blood of martyrs is spilled; our response is the same…If they want to attack the core of Hezbollah, and they will elicit a more powerful response not only at their borders but anywhere around the world.” LH Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, meanwhile, dismissed claims that the Tehran-P5+1 nuclear negotiations limit LH’s response to Israeli attacks. Nasrallah said that LH knew within a few hours after the January 18 Israeli airstrike, that its response would be swift and strong.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated, “I am not against [the nuclear] negotiations. They can negotiate as long as they want, but I believe that we should rely on real sources of hope, not hollow and imaginary ones,” underscoring the constancy with which Khamenei has vocalized his support for the talks, while advising his negotiators to proceed with caution in dealing with the West.
- Khamenei reiterates support for nuclear negotiations, but remains skeptical of the West.The Office of the Supreme Leader published Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s key points regarding the P5+1 talks, from his January 7 speech in Qom. The message, titled: “Imaginary Points” was posted on the Supreme Leader’s official website today:
- “I am not against negotiations. They can negotiate as long as they want, but I believe that we should rely on real sources of hope, not hollow and imaginary ones. This is what is necessary.” (Khamenei.ir)
- Jafari: Iran and Hezbollah’s response are one. During the “Jihad Continues” Conference for “martyrs of the resistance”, several Iranian military officials spoke about the martyrs in the Israeli airstrike in Syria, including IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari. Jafari stated that while the response so far from Hezbollah to the Israeli attack has been minimal, he hoped that it served as a lesson so that other errors would not be made. The IRGC Commander added that Israel pursued such a foolish action even though they feared Hezbollah’s resistance capabilities, which have formed against the worldwide enemies of Islam. Jafari said that a response from the Islamic Republic and Hezbollah are one. He noted: “Anywhere the blood of martyrs is spilled, our response is the same…If they want to attack the core of Hezbollah they will elicit a more powerful response not only at their borders but anywhere around the world.” He added that “International Organizations and Americans Zionists do not veil us and everyone knows that the America supports their crimes.” (Fars News Agency)
- Salami: Zionists are less prepared than Iran for war. During the “Jihad Continues” Conference. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami stated that the “Zionist regime” is much less ready for war than Iran, who is able to go to war with world powers. The IRGC Deputy Commander stressed that special operations need time and intricate planning, and Hezbollah’s response to the Quneitra airstrike indicates a fast reaction and a strong will to react to each operation against them. He claimed that the response to the Quneitra attack is open resistance and that their reactions are both “independent and depend on the actions of the Zionist regime.” (IRNA)
- Salehi: Hezbollah’s response to Israeli attack was very strong and appropriate. Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said that Israel would understand that they cannot attack Hezbollah without fear of retaliation. Hezbollah responded to the attack on Wednesday by attacking Israeli military vehicles near the cross-border village of Shebaa Farms killing at least four people and injuring 6 more. (IRNA)
- Jannati on Hezbollah, Parliament, Universities and sanctions. Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader, spoke concerning Parliamentarians with connections to the Shah, ‘seditionists’ in the universities, how Hezbollah’s revenge should be a priority, and how negotiating with the US is unwise:
- “Unfortunately there are those sitting in Parliament who have a history in the Shah’s regime, why hasn’t there been more attention given to this issue? How can we expect them to have sympathy and work for the people?”
- “It is rumored that there are people in some universities that participated in the sedition [2009 protests] and the US congress has asked Obama to support them with millions of dollars!”
- On Hezbollah’s “victory” over Israel: “Hezbollah’s revenge is a good beginning, and we hope that by the anniversary of the martyrs that Hezbollah, with our supervision, will be victorious.”
- On negotiating with the US: “There are some who believe that only way to solve our problems is to negotiate for the US to lift the sanctions. This is a big mistake on the policymakers part, hasn’t our experience shown that the US never works in our favor?” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Rouhani speaks in medal ceremony for athletes. President Hassan Rouhani spoke at a ceremony for Iranian medal winners in the 2014 Asia Games and Paralympics. Rouhani said that Iran is not only in competition on the sports field, but in the fields of economics, politics, culture, and social issues. Rouhani also vowed to fight corruption in sports. (Tasnim News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Soleimani reportedly met with Nasrallah in Beirut, following a recent Israeli airstrike in Syria. According to Lebanese Al Mayadeen media outlet, IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani met with Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah 48 hours after the January 18 Israeli attack in Quneitra. The report also claims that Soleimani also met with the family of Jihad Mughniyeh, who was an LH member killed along with IRGC Brig. Gen. Allah Dadi in the Israeli airstrike. (Fars News Agency)
- Boroujerdi meets with representatives of Palestinian groups in Lebanon. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi said that Palestine is a central issue for the Islamic Ummah (community). The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman, with his delegation, met with an official of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), in Lebanon, Ali Faisal. Faisal expressed appreciation for Iran’s constant support of the Palestinian people and said that the people have always benefited from this assistance. He added that, in response to the attack in Quneitra, “we should try to expand the sphere of resistance and all groups should become a unified front in the war against Israel.” (IRNA)
- Nasrallah: No link between Iranian nuclear program and decision to respond to Quneitra.At a memorial service for Hezbollah and IRGC members killed in a January 18 Israeli air strike in Quneitra, Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah stated, “There is no link between the Iranian nuclear program and other issues, with the decision to respond to the Quneitra operation.” He also stated that the Hezbollah knew within “the first hours” after the attack that it’s “reaction…would be quite strong.” He also stated that “the first achievement of the Quneitra martyrs was fear, which dominates Israel…” Nasrallah also stated that “Israel is currently… in a situation in which it feels it is able to threaten everyone at any time.” (Mehr News)
- Araghchi after the Istanbul talks: “We are optimistic about an agreement.” Abbas Araghchi called Iran’s eight-hour nuclear talks with British, French, and German officials “serious,” “fruitful,” and “positive.” The International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister expressed confidence that the negotiations will lead to a comprehensive, equitable, and acceptable agreement regarding his country’s nuclear activities. According to Araghchi, the Istanbul talks specifically covered the process for sanctions removal as well as Iran’s future uranium enrichment. (ISNA)
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