Iran news round up – February 11, 2015

Key takeaway: President Rouhani dismissed claims that sanctions forced Iran to negotiate with the P5+1, while Ali Akbar Salehi underscored the need for political engagement with the West. Qassem Soleimani criticized the US for its inept regional strategy.

President Hassan Rouhani addressed a large gathering in Tehran, celebrating the 36th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Rouhani praised Iranians for their support, and reassured the citizens that his administration remains committed to economic growth. He also welcomed differing views: “Diversity of opinion, taste, and analysis is permitted, but in the interests of our nation we all speak with one voice…” This was a deliberate statement aimed at regime hardliners, who oppose the P5+1 nuclear talks. Rouhani said that, logic and reason—not threats and economic pressure—brought Iran to the negotiations table, dismissing President Obama’s claim that economic sanctions forced Tehran to negotiate.

Ali Akbar Salehi echoed regime rhetoric regarding resistance against the West and said that, Iran will not raise its hands at the negotiations table. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Head, however, stated: “With attention to the information and analysis that we have received, there is no choice but to engage, and of course as expected there is no other way, because other means would not be suitable for us and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic has made his position very clear in recent days.” 

Major General Qassem Soleimani touted the Islamic Republic’s regional reach from Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and to North Africa.” The IRGC Qods Force Commander also said the US and its allies have reluctantly acknowledged Iran’s authority in the Middle East. Soleimani, moreover, claimed that ISIS and is “nearing the end of its life.”

 

Official Statements

  • Rouhani dismisses claims that sanctions forced Iran to negotiate with the West. President Hassan Rouhani addressed a large gathering in Tehran, on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Rouhani praised the regime’s independence and self-sufficiency against western pressure and underscored Iran’s diplomatic efforts in the international arena and its nuclear negotiations with the P5+1:
    • “Today, only the enemy of this nation is opposed to the negotiations table, meaning the Zionists who are trying to do all that they can [to undermine the P5+1 negotiations].”
    • On national unity: “Diversity of opinion, taste, and analysis is permitted, but in the interests of our nation we all speak with one voice- today just like 36 years ago- we still shout: independence, freedom, and the Islamic Republic.”
    • “The Islamic Revolution is of the Iranian nation, it is not related to race, class, or certain factions. The unified nation rose and the Revolution was victorious, and today we all have to unite and integrate the interests of the people and defend the interests of the Islamic Republic.”
    • “Our people, last year, according to the guidelines of the Supreme Leader, casted their votes, the government was [elected] with the hopes and opinions of [the people].”
    • “The government is loyal to the people’s vote and committed to its promises to the end. The path will continue and one promise after another will be operationalized.”
    • On the economy: “Last year, in the same place, I told you the great Iranian nation that the government will put the recession past us by next year.”
    • “Today, with pride I announce to the Iranian nation that we have had a four percent growth in the first six months of this year.”
    • “The country’s industry has grown 6.5 percent [this year], mining grew 10.5 percent and business grew 5.4 percent in the first six months.”
    • “The first job is to remove barriers to facilitate business. You know in the past year, in terms of improving the climate for business, Iran has climbed 22 spots in the world rankings.”
    • “We also made significant progress in oil and gas areas despite sanctions and pressures; our oil output has increased to 2.9 million barrels a day from 2.7 million barrels a day a year ago.”
    • “Last year, I promised you here to reduce 35% inflation to lower than 25%; now thanks God the inflation rate is below 17%.”
    • On the P5+1 negotiations and sanctions: “Iran has not come to the negotiating table under the pressure of sanctions, but for the sake of logic.”
    • “The same way that we defended our independence on the battlefield, we have and will continue to defend our independence at the negotiating table.”
    • “Those who state that Iran has come to the negotiations due to sanctions are uttering lies; Iran has sat at to the negotiating table not as a result of pressures but for the sake of logic and for the establishment of peace in the region and the world.”
    • “Speak honestly and admit that you have been left with no other option against the Iranian nation but interaction, and say it to the world out loud that if you intend to establish peace and stability and uproot terrorism in the Middle-East region, you have no way out but [to interact with] the Islamic Republic.”
    • “This means that if Iran shows transparency in its peaceful nuclear program within the framework of the international regulations, the other side should also end the illegal sanctions and this will benefit both sides.”
    • “What we are pursuing at the negotiations table is a common understanding, a win-win, meaning that Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities will be transparent under the international framework of regulations, and the other side must end its inhumane and illegal sanctions; this is beneficial to both sides.”
    • “You saw in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, the power that stood against terrorists and helped the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, was the Islamic Republic of Iran… So let’s tell the truth to the people.” (President.ir)
  • Soleimani says ISIS close to being destroyed. Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani attended a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Kerman Province. The IRGC Qods Force Commander highlighted the regime’s achievements since the Revolution and said:
    • “Today signs of the Islamic Revolution can be seen throughout the region, from Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and to North Africa.”
    • “The arrogant [West] and global Zionists, with successive defeats against the resistance have acknowledged their inability and the authority of the Islamic Republic.”
    • “Given the heavy failures that [ISIS] and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria have sustained, we are sure that these groups are nearing the end of their lives.”
    • “I believe that both the American moves and the terrorist acts of ISIS are doomed to failure because they are not in quest for truth.”
    • “Their solution will not lead to victory; we have all witnessed in Syria that the measures they adopted did not produce any fruit.” (Mashregh News)
  • Zarif expresses his gratitude for Supreme Leader’s support on the nuclear negotiations.Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed his gratitude for the Supreme Leader’s continued support at the sidelines of the 22 Bahman (February 11) rally in Tehran. The Foreign Minister said, “I followed my views during the negotiations with the P5+1 and I am glad that this is also the opinion of the Supreme Leader.” Zarif also criticized the regime’s conservative hardliners that oppose the nuclear talks and posed the question of whether or not they were ready to make a deal by the end of the year. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Foreign Ministry responds to Obama. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham stated that the Islamic Republic entered negotiations for constructive engagement and to end this “fictitious crisis.”
    • Responding to Obama’s statements on sanctions forcing Iran to come to the negotiating table, Afkham responded, saying that it was significant advancements in Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program that brought the U.S to the table.
    • On the Obama’s remarks as Iran being a state sponsor of terrorism, Afkham said that “America is itself a supporter of the Zionist terrorism, which has destabilized the region and new crimes are committed daily with the help of America.” (ISNA)
  • Ali Larijani: everyone in Iran supports reaching a nuclear agreement. The Parliament Speaker stated, “In a country [where] there is democracy, there are various opinions; but the officials of the regime, the Supreme Leader, and all the powers support an agreement on the nuclear issue…” He also said that Iran “has shown that this [nuclear] issue can be resolve through a political solution….; and the West, which sometimes left the negotiating table and with the language of force denied [Iran] the pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology.” Larijani also stated, “Iran never leaves the table because it has the language of logic, not the language of threats.” He noted, “The Supreme Leader said the overview and details of a nuclear agreement can be agreed upon in one meeting, but the nation of Iran will respond to threats of force with strength.” (Mehr News)
  • Salehi: Iran will not raise its hands at the negotiations table. Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran has no choice but to reach a deal, but will not give in to pressure. The Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran added: “With attention to the information and analysis that we have received, there is no choice but to engage, and of course as expected there is no other way, because other means would not be suitable for us and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic has made his position very clear in recent days.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Fadavi: Supreme Leader has provided the “criteria” for a nuclear deal. IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi said that the criteria to be used for a nuclear deal “are the statements of the Supreme Leader.” (Defa Press)
  • Shamkhani: public support reinforces bargaining power. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani stated that “the bargaining power of the representatives of the Islamic Republic for the negotiations stems from the support of the public. Today that bargaining power is ours… the presence of the people is a definite power builder for Iranian officials and negotiators.” (ISNA)
  • Safavi: the Revolution represents the “commitment” of three generations of the Revolution. IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi addressed an audience in Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province: “Bahman 22 [February 11] is the referendum of commitment of the first, second, and third generations of the revolution to Islamic principles and values, and a display of the national demand…[to] pursue the dignified rights and dignity of the nation and the country.” The Senior Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader said, “The unity and solidarity of Iran’s ethnic groups of the Azeris, the Kurds, the Persians, the Arabs, and the Baluch in a million demonstrations today in Iran show wisdom, friendship, and interest inherent to Islam and our dear country of Iran…” (Sepah News Agency)
  • Pourdastan: Iran faces continuous assaults from the West. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said, “Today, Iran is facing numerous onslaughts against the front of global arrogance led by America…” The Artesh Ground Forces Commander stated that “the Great Iranian nation showed that after the passage of 36 years since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, it is still standing on its feet.” (Defa Press)
  • Oil Minister: there is a conspiracy against Iran to lower oil prices. Bijan Zanganeh agreed that there is one opinion which holds that a conspiracy against Iran to lower oil prices is ongoing. He stated that a response to this conspiracy is “political work.” (Fars News Agency)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Tehran reiterates support for a unified Yemeni government. Hossein Amir Abdollahian called the US and British move to close their embassies in Sanaa, “hasty and purposeful.” The Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the foreign Minister said the ongoing situation in Yemen is an internal matter and that the political developments in Sanaa have made it more difficult for terrorists. Abdollahian added:
    • “[Iran] supports an independent and unified Yemen. Tehran views Yemen’s security as the entire region’s security and supports peace, stability, and prosperity in this nation.”
    • “Yemen belongs to all Yemenis and Ansar Allah [political wing of the Houthis] is taking steps to help the political process to yield results while at the same time fighting corruption and terrorism.” (Mehr News)

By AEI Critical Threat