» “Start with me”, Iranian officials should say
Last year, the Iranian Chamber of Commerce hosted more than 500 foreign delegations, and the first point that members of these delegations brought about in relation to investment in Iran was the question of lack of transparency and outbreak of corruption in the government’s administrative offices, according to Massoud Khouansari, head of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce. Because of corruption, the rate of foreign investment growth in Iran is negative, which has resulted in contraction and capital flight from Iran. When this happens, the capital will tend to go to brokerage investment—which in turn deepens and institutionalizes corruption. According to Transparency International, Iran ranks 131 among 167 countries. Allegations of corruption against the sons of Hashemi Rafsanjani head the Expediency Council and sons of Nategh-Nouri, head of Inspection Office of the Supreme Leader have led to the loss of confidence among foreign investors, confirming the theory of administrative corruption in the Iranian regime. In promoting accountability and transparency and fighting corruption, the writer believes that all officials and authorities should start with themselves.
An editorial in “Shargh” Newspaper, Dec. 25th, 2016.
» A new phase of global order
The rise of Russian power years after Warsaw Pact collapse is part of what is called “Putinism”, named after Russian President Vladimir Putin. The emergence of Russian power is due to Russia’s military successes in the Syrian war, and its commitment to bring about changes on the ground and not just through peaceful talks. The indifference of Western countries to Russia’s presence in Ukrainian territory marks the birth of a new order of power in the world. On the other hand, Barack Obama’s eight years of U.S. presidency led to the strengthening of “Putin’s Russia”, and with all the talks about the possible friendship between Trump and Putin, we can expect a greater opportunity for Russia’s strength to grow.
An Editorial in “Jahan Sanaat” Newspaper, Dec. 24th, 2016
» Assassination of Russian Ambassador in Ankara
The editorials of 21 December 2016 had all highlighted Russian Ambassador’s assassination in Ankara, with many opinions and speculations about its causes. But Iranian press were more focused on Iranian attitudes toward Turkey and Erdogan than the facts of the assassination. Despite relative closeness between Turkey and Iran, which was clearly evident in the tripartite meeting bringing them both to Russia for talks on Syria’s future, Iran still accuses Turkey of supporting terrorist groups and sees its interferences in countries of the region as seeking to rebuild the Ottoman Empire. And this is while Iran closes its eyes to its own ambitions and interventions in Syria and Iraq. Iranian newspapers held that Erdogan’s character, as well as his fondness of extremist ideas and exploitation of religious feelings of Turkish people in his struggle with political rivals, is what led to the growth of extremist ideas and the emergence of terrorism in Turkish society and even within Turkish institutions themselves. Meanwhile, these newspapers forget that the Iranian regime follows publically hostile policies against all– whether towards the West with the slogan of death to America and the West, or continuously towards the countries in the region.
Several Editorials of the Iranian press Dec. 21st, 2016
» Fundamentals and 2017 elections
There is no doubt that the nominating a candidate for elections is crucial for Fundamentals, despite their inability to identify one yet. There are political parties and groups within conservative current, such as (Mo’talefeh) Coalition Party, that believe they have a mission, feeling that they should have more power. When “Habibollah Asgaroladi”, the founder of “Mo’talefeh”, was alive, he was in charge of making most of the Fundamentals ’ decisions. And now, after his death, “Mo’talefeh” still believes that they can make the Fundamentals’ machine move again. If their candidate can attract people’s attention, then “Mo’talefeh” will be successful in moving conservatives out of stagnation, bringing about a considerable change in this political current. Overall, conservatives should not be underestimated as they are powerful and can decide to change the game to their own advantage.
An editorial Arman Newspaper Dec. 20th, 2016
♦ Iran: Speed of resuming nuclear activities will be incredible
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesperson says that if it is “supposed to return to the situation before JCPOA was implemented, our return speed would be amazing.” Behrouz Kamalvandi added that all issues in this regard have been examined and “we are prepared for all possible situations.” He asserted, “thousands of centrifuges can resume working, and enrichment can rapidly rise to 20 percent.” AEOI spokesperson declared, “Using new generation of centrifuges” could be on the agenda, while hoping not to move in that direction, but “working towards reinforcing JCPOA and removing the existing obstacles.” As for the U.S. violating JCPOA, Kamalvandi cited Iran Supreme Leader, saying: “if they tear up JCPOA, we will set it on fire.” He also announced injecting UF6 gas to the 8th generation centrifuges, known as IR-8, in the upcoming weeks.
Jame Jam online
♦ Iran has $100 billion in foreign exchange resources, says Economy Minister
Iran Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia announced, “We currently have $100 billion in foreign exchange resources abroad.” He added that while the Gulf region countries publish bonds as a source of income in the international market, Iran does not have such opportunity. Tayebnia said that oil price in 2014 was $105 per barrel, but in 2015, it reached to less than $30. Economy Minister maintained that oil price drop led to intensifying inflation and decreasing production rate in Iran. Tayebnia stated that before JCPOA Iran could not export more than 1 million barrels of oil, but “now we can export twice as many.”
♦ Joint naval maneuvers between Iran and Iraq
Iraq’s Defense Ministry informed of holding joint naval maneuvers between Iran and Iraq forces. These maneuvers, which aimed at promoting preparation to combat smugglers, pirates and securing the safety of regional waters, was the second one in less than a week. In Iraq’s Defense Ministry’s statement, it is mentioned that 32 vessels of both countries’ naval forces were present in this military maneuvers which took place in borderline waters of the two countries.
♦ Khamenei’s advisor: security forces have secured Iran, now it is officials’ turn
Yahya Rahim Safavi, the former commander of IRGC and current advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, emphasized the role of intelligence forces in Iran’s victories and decisive operations. Advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader defined the most prominent features of today’s international environment as rapid change in technology (especially the impact of information and communication on all aspects of human life), change in global equations (multi-polarity of power in current world), fading borders, power of virtual space, and disruption of political relations. Safavi then added, “As a matter of fact, certain geopolitical changes are taking place, and our region, in words of a supreme leader, is at a historical turn. Power players in the region and the world are increasing, and fragility of international environment is quite noticeable.” He also stressed on the role of information in national security issues, social, economic, cultural and political problems for officials to make the appropriate decisions in short- and long-term planning. At the end, Safavi concluded, “Militaries and intelligence forces have always ensured Iran’s security. Now it is up to the government’s officials to provide welfare, comfort, livelihood and progress for the Iranian people.”
♦ Aref: Bureaucracy and lack of management are the real problems
Head of “Omid” fraction in Iran’s parliament stated, in his meeting with the jurist leader’s representative in Kerman Province that Iran’s current problem is not financial, but weakness in management and bureaucracy. Mohammad Reza Aref pointed out to water consumption per capita in Iran, which is twice as much as Europe, saying, “Water crisis is serious, and transferring water in the country is a necessity. Provinces like Kerman and Isfahan have serious problems in this regard.”
ISNA News Agency
♦ Rouhani’s new opponent for 2017 presidential election
Mostafa Mir-Salim is proposed as the final option– or one of the final options– of Iran’s “Mo’talefa Coalition” for 2017 presidential elections, just as there were talks of his becoming prime minister 36 years ago.
♦ Arresting social networks managers in Hormozgan
Chief of police for intelligence and public safety in Hormozgan Province informed of arresting 32 “norm-breakers in cyberspace” since the beginning of this year. Ali Asghar Ebadi stated that those arrested are managers and members of social networks who conducted illegal activities. He added, “These groups disseminated false news, disrupted public peace and order, created fear and terror among people, promoted anti-cultural materials, and circulated immoral materials and unorthodox and illegal propagandas in public sphere.”
♦ ISIL threatens to attack Russian Embassy in Tehran
ISIL terrorist group published a list of Russian embassies in Iran and other countries as a part of its future attacks. Following the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey, ISIL released a PDF file, containing addresses and contact information of Russian embassies in different countries including Iran, Uganda, Azerbaijan, and Albania. After the release of the list, Russian president Vladimir Putin issued an order to intensify security measures inside and outside of the country.
♦ Rouhani’s advisor: JCPOA not ending the U.S. enmity towards Iran
Mohammad Ali Najafi, the advisor to Iran’s president, said that the JCPOA was not supposed to make an enemy such as America a friend “because this country has not stopped its enmity towards Iran.” Speaking at a conference called “Welfare and Teachers’ Social Status,” Mohammad Ali Najafi highlighted Iran’s geopolitical significance in connecting East and West, saying, “With 40 to 50% of the country’s oil resources still undiscovered, and 18.5% of world’s gas resources in Iran, we are a powerful country.”
♦ Iran’s MP: Zarif admits mistakes in National Security Commission
Javad Karimi Ghodousi, Mashhad MP and a member of National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, suggested that the Iranian lawmakers and foreign ministry’s spokesperson should hold a meeting to listen to an audio file of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s remarks regarding his mistakes in JCPOA. Iranian FM, in his remarks in National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, has officially admitted making a mistake by trusting the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as to not extending Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).
♦ Iran official: people still under economic pressure
Economic Affairs and Finance Minister, Ali Tayebnia, has said that 1 million and 445 thousand jobs were created in spring and summer of 2016, calling it unprecedented in the history of Iran. He added that the Iranian people are still suffering from economic pressure. Ali Tayebnia explained that due to the economic recession in Iran’s economy in 2012 and 2013, there was a 10% drop in production and 20% drop in national income—recovery from which will take years.
Abrar Eghtisadi Newspaper
♦ “Khatam al-Anbia” targets quadcopter by mistake
Public Relations of “Khatam al-Anbia’s” Air Defense issued a statement regarding shooting down a flying object, which “was flying over Tehran without necessary coordination.” It must be mentioned that the “flying object” was a quadcopter — which is usually used in making videos and taking pictures.
ISNA News Agency
♦ Hashemi Rafsanjani: Iran would be lost if sanctions continued
Chairperson of Iran’s Expediency Council stated that despite negative views, JCPOA has been successful in solving some of the country’s problems. Hashemi Rafsanjani, during his two-day trip to Bushehr Province, added that even though some consider sanctions as mere pieces of paper, “if they had continued, the country would be lost, and problems would have been twofold.”
Chairperson of Expediency Council called JCPOA very successful, as removal of problems in shipping, purchasing aircraft, insurance, and global banking has led to developments in these fields. Rafsanjani called an extension of sanctions “Obama’s last act against Iran” while emphasizing “Iran’s ability to maneuver in front of U.S. new sanctions.”
♦ Deputy Minister: Iran Air to receive eight new aircraft by March 2017
Deputy Minister of Roads and Transportation announced that the Iranian Airline (Homa) would receive eight new Airbuses and ATR planes by the end of this [Iranian] year [ending in March 2017]. Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan added that based on the contract signed with Airbus Company, two A320, and two A330 aircraft will be delivered to Iran Air by that time. He continued they expect to sign a contract with ATR Company next week.
IRNA News Agency
♦ Polls show drop in Rouhani’s votes
Deputy Chairman of Islamic Society of Engineers stated that polls show a decline in Rouhani’s favorability among people. Mohammad Nazemi Ardakani said that even though reformists and moderates have reached a consensus on Rouhani’s running for 2017 presidency, they are concerned over his losing the election. Deputy Chairman of this fundamentalist organization in Iran continued, “While incumbent government called JCPOA as its achievement, we are now witnessing its failure in many respects, with renewing 10-year sanctions by U.S. Senate as an example.”
♦ IRGC Commander: We will not stop missile industry
Commander of IRGC’s Aerospace Force has stated, “even if enemies surround us with fences, we will not stop promoting our capabilities, sciences, and production, especially in missile industry.” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that this has become possible with abilities of universities and knowledge-based companies, adding, “Today we are self-sufficient in different defensive fields.” Commander of IRGC’s Aerospace Force emphasized that everybody should do his best to actualize intentions and plans of Iran’s Supreme Leader: “This jihadi move can happen in non-military domains, including universities as well.”
Meliyat News Website
♦ Principlists have no single candidate for next presidential election, says former MP
Faizah Hashemi Rafsanjani said that the fundamentals would compete with Hassan Rouhani with several candidates. She told ISNA that fundamentals could not form a coalition in past elections either. Daughter of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani continued, “Of course, Rouhani will have opponents in the elections, but since reformists are united with each other, this can be considered an advantage for him. At the same time, it seems that fundamentals cannot get unified, which makes the conditions better for Rouhani.”
♦ ISIL “leader” arrested in Urmia
Governor of Western Azerbaijan Province announced that the intelligence forces have arrested ISIL leader and his agents; hence, “enemy conspiracy was neutralized in this region.” Ghorbanali Saadat emphasized, “Our Turk and Kurd fellow-countrymen, along with other ethnic groups, have sacrificed all their assets for the regime. And the regime is committed to serving a unified nation, with no discrimination among different ethnic groups, especially Turks and Kurds.”
♦ Verbal altercation between Tehran MP and parliament speaker
Tehran MP Mostafa Kavakebian, after the ratification of generalities of 6th Development Plan Bill, shouted at Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, saying: “I wanted to give notice several times but you did not allow me. There are 220 people here and you do not allow us to speak.” In response, Larijani said, “You cannot give notice at the time of voting. Be quiet, it is to the benefit of the country. Don’t insult.” When MPs were reviewing the details of 6th Development Plan Bill, Kavakebian wanted to give notice and started shouting, with a group of MPs gathering around him and trying to calm him.
♦ Iran Police Chief: We have upper hand in defense industries
Iran’s Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari has stated that priority of Iran’s Armed Forces is science and knowledge, adding, “In many domains and defense industries, we have the upper hand.” Chief Commander of law enforcement emphasized using researchers’ capabilities in military forces to advance “higher goals”, saying, “Today, armed forces have established good interaction with scientific centers and universities, and are in contact with more than 70 universities.” Ashtari continued, “As promoting science and knowledge is our priority in armed forces, we should show more resolve in this regard. Armed forces’ universities must achieve the highest level of scientific authority, just as in developed countries.”
♦ MPs criticize budget cuts for universities
Iran’s Parliament Members, in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, complained about cuts in higher education of 2017 budget bill by Science Ministry. The letter signed by146 MPs, says that as applicants and university students have chosen universities based on their reliability and rank, “this measure will cause frustration and despair among the academic community.” Lawmakers then ask President Rouhani “to order Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology as well as Planning and Budget Organization to take necessary action to amend and restore titles of universities and higher education complexes, and allocate necessary budget in 2017 budget bill.”
♦ UN General Assembly accuses Iran of human rights violation again
United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution expressing “serious concern” over torture, high rate of execution, restriction on freedom of assembly, expression, and religious beliefs, widespread arbitrary detentions, discrimination against women, ethnic and religious minorities in Iran. The resolution, introduced by Canada and co-sponsored by 41 other countries, was ratified by a vote of 85 to 35 with 63 abstentions. Iran had previously denied Western countries’ claims in this regard, saying this country is a religious democracy which has always been against any kind of discrimination as well as the instrumental or political use of human rights issue.
♦ Former MP: JCPOA signatories condemned by treason
Hamid Rasaei said that those political currents which had a hand in “2009 sedition” were also present in “sedition of JCPOA”, saying, “Believe me, many of officials did not even read JCPOA. And perhaps even the signatories did not read it.” Rasaei also said, supporters of JCPOA committed treason, adding “those who imposed JCPOA on people will be put on trial one day in the history of this country.”
♦ Iran Deputy Oil Minister resigned
Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh, after 3 years of being appointed as the deputy Oil Minister in the 11th government, resigned from his position. Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, in a letter to Hamaneh, accepted his resignation, thanking him for 3 years of efforts and services in Oil Ministry.