Iran Fears Tension over Water Shortage, Holds Neighboring Countries Responsible For Crisis


London – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asked neighboring countries to collaborate to address the region’s water shortages and said environmental issues require planning would not be resolved without regional and international cooperation.

Drought in Iran turned into a national security issue, days after Ala’eddin Boroujerdi, head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the Iranian parliament had issued an order to form a special committee to tackle the problem and warned that the shortage has become a national security threat in the country.

Last week, Boroujerdi, said: “We were forced to launch a special committee to tackle the problem.”

Speaking at the “International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storm” held in Tehran on Monday, Rouhani said: “Building dams without studying environmental aspects is damaging for the region.”

“Regional and international organizations should not be indifferent to environmental damages in Iraq and Iran caused by dam construction in neighboring countries.” he continued.

The Iranian president also blamed Turkey, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan for negatively affecting the lives of Iranians by building dams.

Without naming Turkey, Rouhani asked Ankara to halt constructing dams.

“Multiple dams planned by a neighboring country on the two major rivers that flow into Syria and Iraq will have destructive consequences and affect many, including Iran,” he said.

Rouhani also indirectly mentioned Turkey for building 19 dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in recent decades, with plans to build three more.

“Building dams without studying environmental aspects is damaging for the region,” he said.

Rouhani’s comments came after deputy energy minister for water and wastewater affairs Rahim Meydani said on Sunday that “some 300 major cities across Iran are on the verge of water tensions,” adding that stable water supply has turned into a formidable challenge in the country.

Raisi Defends IRGC’s Role, Iranian Missile Program

Ebrahim Raisi speaks in Mashhad, Iran.

London- Ebrahim Raisi, who lost in the Iranian presidential elections, met Thursday with Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force Qasem Soleimani and chairman of the Assembly of Experts Ahmad Jannati in addition to the members of the National Security Council and Foreign Policy in the Iranian parliament in Mashhad.

Raisi implicitly slammed President Hassan Rouhani’s criticism for the IRGC, considering that any negative stance that aims at weakening the Revolutionary Guards opposes national interests.

Iranian media did not mention details about the meeting between the three Iranian officials after one month of Raisi’s defeat in the presidential elections.

After serving in a series of increasingly powerful judicial posts, Raisi was appointed in March 2016 by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to head the Imam Reza shrine.

Known as Astan Quds Razavi, it runs Iran’s holiest shrine as well as a huge business conglomerate with interests.

Before the elections, Raisi was one of the most prominent figures to replace the current leader in the mandate of the jurist and many believe that his entry into the race for presidency was to boost his presence in the Iranian political arena because of his short record of legal posts filled over the past 36 years.

For his part, Jannati also heads the Council of Guardians, which supervises the presidential elections. He lost the elections in May 2016 and received 16 million votes against 26 million for Rouhani.

The meeting comes at a time when Rohani is carrying out consultations to form a new government before Khamenei signs the ruling of the presidency and takes the constitutional oath in the parliament in less than two months.

Meanwhile, Raisi’s allies are carrying out consultations to declare a “shadow government” that would put pressure on Rouhani’s administration over the next four years.

On the other hand, Raisi defended, during his meeting with the parliamentary council, the ballistic missiles program and said that his country does not want the defensive structure and missiles for war, yet it wants them to prevent waging any war.

Iran’s strategy is defensive, and it looks forward to developing missiles with the aim of deterrence, Raisi said.

Khamenei Cools Controversy over ‘Fire-at-Will’ Statement, Demands National Unity


London – Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei used his Eid El-Fitr speech on Monday to cool down rising tensions spurred by a feisty presidential election. Iran’s re-elected President Hassan Rouhani also urged turning over a new page and overcoming disputes.

Despite Khamenei’s call for calm in the war of words, a poet affiliated with his office delivered a prose in which he highly criticized the nuclear deal and the Rouhani administration only three days after angry protests burst through the streets, some raising anti-Rouhani slogans.

Following the twin attacks in Iran’s capital just a few weeks ago, Khamenei encouraged his officers to “fire-at-will” and act as they see fit. This has resulted in an even more repressive atmosphere in the country.

Human rights organizations are worried that the Supreme Leader has effectively allowed authorities to further suppress the people of Iran, especially women and young people.

The country’s top cleric stressed that what he meant by “fire-at-will” is “spontaneous and clean cultural work”, adding that he wanted “intellectuals to play their role to identify cultural gaps that are leaving society weakened.”

In a veiled criticism of Rouhani’s centrist government, Khamenei said: “Sometimes the central think tanks and cultural and political institutions fall into disarray and stagnation, and when that happens, officers against the soft war should recognize their duty, make decisions and act in a fire-at-will form.”

Iranian officials often refer to Western cultural influences as a “soft war” against their national and religious values.

Khamenei’s order to his followers, including to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij paramilitary forces, is a response to the more moderate policies of Rouhani, who has maintained close ties with reformists throughout his presidency.

Khamenei warning against social “infiltration” on the eve of the signing of the nuclear agreement in July 2015, had played a major role in forming anti-government sentiment in Iran that defies the Rouhani administration.

Khamenei coined the term “fire-at-will” to Iranian politics less than a month after Rouhani’s re-election. The supreme leader also highlighted in his fears of the risk of a polarized Iran, warning of the possibility of a repeat of the 1981 events.

In 1981, ex-president Abolhassan Banisadr was impeached by parliament over his anti-Gulf war positions and moves against the clerics in power. Then supreme leader Rouhollah Khomeini himself instigated the impeachment.

Anti-Rouhani Chants Mar ‘Quds Day’ Rallies in Tehran


London – Several senior Iranian government and parliament officials were met with a hostile reception by demonstrators during Tehran’s annual “Quds Day” rallies.

President Hassan Rouhani was forced to leave the scene after the protesters chanted angry slogans that compared him to impeached former President Abolhassan Banisadr.

The anger stems from Rouhani’s criticism of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that it was managing a government that owns weapons and the media against a government that does not have arms. He made his statement in reference to the Guards’ role in the economy and in obstructing government plans to encourage investment.

This was the first time that Rouhani acknowledged the existence of a government parallel to his own, amid reports of deep disputes in Iran over the foreign and economic policies between the current administration and the Revolutionary Guards, supreme leader and his agencies.

Iranian media outlets aired recordings of the angry chants that were directed against Rouhani, his First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and parliament Speaker Ali Motahari. Jahangiri was described as a “conceder” and Motahari’s deputy was called a “hypocrite.”

The developments come less than ten days after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threatened Rouhani with impeachment like Banisadr. He also warned of the division of Iranians due to the political tensions.

Labor Minister Ali Rabiei condemned the anti-Rouhani campaign, saying via his Twitter account that the stances against the president have been planned.

Rouhani’s aide on women’s affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi interpreted the tensions as being part of an Israeli plot to “break the unity of Muslims.” She stressed that the development will not harm the Iranian support for Rouhani.

Banisadr was the first president of Iran after the 1979 revolution. He was impeached in June 1981 at Khomeini’s orders after parliament withdrew confidence from him. The no-confidence motion stemmed from a dispute with Khomeini over his objection to the continuation of the Iranian-Iraqi war.

Ballistic Attack Heightens Tension between Rouhani Administration, IRGC


London- The debate between the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) continues on the decision to launch ballistic missiles at Deir al Zour, Syria, on Thursday as Deputy Commander of al-Quds force Ismail Qaiana affirmed that the decision was taken by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Qaiana commented on the statements of the government and the IRGC on the party responsible for taking the decision of the attack conducted by IRGC on Sunday via launching six ground-to-ground ballistic missiles from Kurdistan and Kermanshah.

Iran said, “The six missiles were launched as a response to two attacks that ISIS claimed responsibility on the parliament headquarters and Khomeini mausoleum on June 7.”

In this regard, the IRGC explained in a statement issued on Wednesday details of the attack at Deir al Zour and the number of ISIS losses, hours after statements made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani where he hinted on Khamenei and IRGC when he said that decision wasn’t taken by a single person or special party.

Rouhani added that the attack’s decision was taken by the Supreme National Security Council that has granted the armed forces powers wider that launching missiles after the two attacks on Tehran. He continued that the foreign policy towards regional and international topics did not change.

Statements of the Iranian president indicated that tension between him and the IRGC is still ongoing, knowing that this military body criticized him severely during his electoral campaigns last month.

In the same context, Iran’s Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani and his brother Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani issued detailed statements hailing the role of IRGC. Parliament speaker said that the attack on ISIS was a message to the US and Israel.

Ebadi Warns against Using Attacks in Tehran as Pretext to Suppress Ethnic Diversity


London- Iranian Lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who won the Noble Peace Prize in 2003, warned against using the two attacks on Tehran as an “excuse to suppress ethnic diversity and silence civil society activists” in Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian MP Nader Ghazipour announced Tuesday the arrest of 40 suspected ISIS militants in five Kurdish cities northwest Iran.

“The authorities have carried out a large-scale campaign of arrests in the Kurdish areas under the pretext of cooperating with ISIS, and they have arrested in the eastern areas a number of Baloch people and killed others,” Ebadi said in a statement on ISIS attacks.

Ebadi noted that “tensions have aggravated” in the areas of ethnic diversity, and she said: “Developments have worsened the situation in the cities of the majority of ethnic groups,” according to the Center for Defense of Human Rights in Tehran.

“The authorities should not use the painful incidents as a pretext to attack ethnic diversities and cause hatred and discrimination at the national level,” Ebadi said within her condemnation of violence. “The continuation of the situation does not serve the interests of any party.”

Ebadi called on the security and judicial references to “acknowledge the leniency of national security rather than confront civil society activists” and “pay attention to warnings before painful incidents occur.”

In a statement on ISIS attacks, Ebadi said that the response of the authorities came after the killing of five Iranian elements in response to large-scale arrests among the Kurds of Iran.

At the same time, Ebadi noted that the authorities ignored the warnings issued by Kurdish parties, activists and politicians, including warnings published by “Kurd and Kurdistan” website, which speaks for the Kurdistan Democratic Party on the security situation in the Kurdish border areas.

In a common matter, Ghazipour, an Iranian MP who represents Urmia electoral district, announced the arrest of 40 ISIS agents by the West Azerbaijan’s Intelligence Office in the cities of Piranshahr, Sardasht, Mahabad, Bukan and Takab.

He also said that a vast amount of weapons and ammunition were seized from ISIS elements in several operations.

They were plotting to carry out terrorist operations in Ramadan and were timely strangled by the vigilance of West Azerbaijani intelligence services, he added.

Ghazipour noted that the ties of these terrorist elements abroad are being pursued and the Ministry of Intelligence will continue its vigilant activities to arrest their heads as well.

Khamenei Finger-Wagging Threatens Rouhani with Impeachment

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, shown at a 2009 clerical gathering, oversees an organization called Setad that has assets estimated at about $95 billion.

London- Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reiterated his concerns on polarization taking a toll on the country over political rifts among officials, labeling the situation as grave.

Khamenei made clear threats on ousting former president Abolhassan Banisadr from Iranian politics.

Evoking the memory of the 1980 standoff with the US, when the president played a major role in polarizing the public street, Khamenei demanded that national unity prevails.

Khamenei’s speech also warned current President Hassan Rouhani that he can be simply impeached over a political incompetence.

The war of words between Rouhani and Khamenei has remarkably simmered after Rouhani’s re-election, however not for Khamenei’s part.

Khamenei’s batch of warnings followed statements made by Rouhani on the difficulty of upholding peace and the ease of getting dragged into wars. Rouhani had also recalled the former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s acceptance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 598 in 1988, saying that he accepted ‘poison’ for peace and the sake of advancing the country’s national interests.

UNSC Resolution 598 called for an immediate ceasefire between Iran and Iraq and the repatriation of prisoners of war, and for both sides to withdraw to the international border.

Rouhani’s comments were considered a direct response to Khamenei’s remarks on paying the price of challenging others as opposed to compromise, saying that it cuts losses. The Supreme Leader is believed to have been referring to implementing a full-fledged nuclear program instead of a limited one in exchange of relieving the country from sanctions as stipulated by the nuclear deal.

It is the first time that Khamenei vows to impeach Rohani, despite the two having been going through a rough spat for over two years now

Before Khamenei’s remarks, Rouhani spoke about his government’s economic achievements and made promises to improve the economy.

“The period of competition is over and the demands of the people must be fulfilled,” said Rouhani.

The pragmatist president championed a nuclear deal with the United States and five other powers in 2015 that led to the lifting of most sanctions against Iran, in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

But the deal has not led to normalization of ties between the two countries that Rouhani hoped for.

For his part, Khamenei said Iran had no intention of normalizing ties with the US.

Khamenei’s hardline loyalists, drawn from among extremists and the Revolutionary Guards, fear that normalization of ties with the United States might weaken their position.

Khamenei Defends Execution of Thousands of Prisoners in Summer of 1988

London- Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei defended on Sunday the executions conducted in Iran in the 1980s and indirectly criticized the statements of newly elected President Hassan Rouhani.

Speaking at a gathering of senior officials in Tehran to mark the 28th anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei said: “We should not mix between the martyr and the oppressor during those events.”

Khamenei reiterated his warnings from any attempts to distort Khomeini’s image and the ideas of the revolution.

“Most of you know that there are motivations for distorting the personality of the Imam and distorting the revolution,” he said.

The supreme leader also rejected in his traditional speech the previous comments delivered by Rouhani, without naming him.

During his presidential campaign last month, the newly-elected president had criticized the executions of thousands of Iranians in the 1980s.

Rouhani had lashed out at one of his main opponents, Ebrahim Raisi, for playing a role when political prisoners were executed during a period of a few months in the summer of 1988.

But, on Sunday, Khamenei defended those events and said: “This phase was important in determining the fate of Iran and the Iranians.”

Khamenei went on to note that the Iranians could receive a slap in case they lose the path of Khomeini.

A few days ago, the son of Hossein Montazeri, Ahmad, urged Rouhani to drop Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi from his cabinet for the major role he played in the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners.

Last summer, Ahmad Montazeri had released an audiotape in which his father can be heard telling a meeting of the members of the “Death Committee” that they are carrying out a crime against humanity.

Pour-Mohammadi was a member of the “Death Committee”, deciding on the fate of those political prisoners.

Iran to Dispatch More Forces to Syria


London – Following statements by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani on Iran’s readiness to double its military presence in Syria, Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan said on Sunday that the Iranian official’s visit to Moscow comes in the context of “more Iranian-Russian military coordination in Syria.”

Shamkhani revealed Iran’s readiness to dispatch more military forces to Syria as a response to US President Donald Trump’s recent statements on Iran’s role in Syria, in shaking stability and in supporting terrorism.

He affirmed that Tehran is serious in proceeding in its role in the Syrian crisis and that his country is ready to double its efforts through sending more military forces “to maintain security in the region”.

Meanwhile, Dzhagaryan said that Washington objects to the Iranian presence at the Astana negotiations and considers its role as negative in Syria.

“Russia does not agree with the US on the Iranian role – which it sees as positive in reaching a resolution for the Syrian crisis. Finding a solution is impossible without Iran,” he added.

The ambassador pointed out that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov notified international parties that Moscow opposes excluding Iran from the Syrian negotiations and he affirmed its support of Iran’s participation in the current and future negotiations on Syria.

He denied any US-Russian agreement on Kurdish regions in Syria, saying that Russia acknowledges the unity of the Syrian territory and rejects dividing it.

“Syria should be one country,” he added.

Furthermore, Dzhagaryan stressed the Turkish role in Syrian negotiations, adding that the opposition that boycotted the Astana negotiations is a minority. He also saw that the US, Russia, Turkey and Iran are active players in Syrian negotiations.

Iran Challenges International Community by Revealing Third Missile Factory

London- Iran’s Revolutionary Guards revealed on Thursday the country’s third underground factory for the production of ballistic missiles, challenging the international community once again.

Iran’s head of the Republican Guard’s airspace division Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on Thursday from the city of Dezful in the southwest of the country that his forces are developing a ground-to-ground ballistic missile to be named after the city.

“Iran’s third underground factory has been built by the Guards in recent years … We will continue to further develop our missile capabilities forcefully,” he told Fars news agency.

Hajizadeh added that the Revolutionary Guards would “continue to increase their missile power,” without being affected by the US pressures.

His comments came only a few hours before the US Senate was due to meet to discuss new sanctions against Iran over its missiles program.

Meanwhile, Iranian sources considered the announcement of a new factory for the production of ballistic missiles a message to the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after criticized the Guards for “showing pictures of underground ballistic missile cites and writing on them anti-Israel slogans while the JCPOA nuclear deal had entered into effect in January 2016.”

Separately, acting chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of the System Ali Movahedi Kermani asked on Thursday the Guardian Council of the Constitution, which supervises the Iranian elections, to recount the votes of the last presidential polls, asserting that several violations had touched millions of votes and could affect the results of last Friday’s race.

Rouhani won last week’s election with more than 57 percent of the votes, which equal 23.5 million, against Ebrahim Raisi, who received 38 percent.

During a press conference, Kermani said the votes supporting Rouhani could decline from 23 million to 21 million facing an increase in the number of votes received by his contender Raisi, from 16 million to 19 million.