Inside Iran: Of missiles and lapdogs
Oil sanctions, nuclear talks, Egypt, war games dominated headlines from Tehran this week in Iranian press.
Iran's Sajil 2 missile Photo: REUTERS
Iran’s print and Internet media focused heavily this week on the European
Union’s latest sanctions, Iran’s nuclear program, the Revolutionary Guard’s
latest war games, and whether Egypt’s new Islamist president will renew ties
As world powers and Iran agreed in Istanbul on Wednesday to
continue with technical talks on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s state press
continued to emphasize that its atomic energy work was peaceful.
Wednesday, Iran’s Consultative Assembly news site reported comments made by
Hossein Sheikholeslam, senior adviser to Iran’s parliament president on foreign
policy issues and former ambassador to Syria, who said the commitment of both
sides to carry on with the talks was “positive.”
He added that the P5+1
powers must “respect the outcome of the Istanbul meeting.”
said the West was accusing Iran of failing to reveal the full technical details
of its nuclear program as a pretext for their own political goals. He added that
in recent years, Iran had “responded to all the West’s allegations, and the IAEA
even wrote that it no longer had doubts about Iran’s peaceful nuclear
Iran was prepared to answer the 5+1 group’s questions “within
the framework of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty,” Sheikholeslam
Conservative Tehran-based daily Jomhouriye Eslami reported on
Wednesday an interview with Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, who said
that Iran did not seek confrontation with the West regarding its nuclear program
but was defending its rights.
“I have always repeated that Iran’s nuclear
program will conclude to the Islamic Republic’s advantage,” Salehi said, adding
that he believed there was no other option but to seek a “diplomatic and
political solution to Iran’s nuclear issue.” He said, “If not, the next option
would be confrontation.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday, hardline daily Kayhan,
which is supervised directly by the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and
which openly supports president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, headlined with the EU oil
sanctions, reporting that world oil prices had jumped to an all time-high
Oil prices dropped back down on Wednesday after spiking when
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acting commander Hossein Salami said Iran had
test-fired medium and long-range ballistic weapons in response to threats by the
US and Israel.
Kayhan said the world’s media was buzzing with reports of
fears that Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz, and cited several
international news outlets, including Fox News and The New York
Kayhan also reported remarks by the head of Iran’s parliamentary
economic commission, senior lawmaker Arsalan Fathipour, that Iran should “not
allow a drop of oil to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” as well as comments
by Tehran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman that the oil sanctions were “illegitimate
and violated international law.”
Tehran-based reformist newspaper,
Shargh, also reported on a draft bill to close the Strait of Hormuz, and noted
that Iran’s petroleum minister had said Iran would not have problems selling its
The draft bill, by Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy
Committee, “emphasizes blocking oil tanker traffic to countries that have
sanctioned Iran,” according to MP Ibrahim Agha-Mohammadi.
conservative daily Jaam-e Jam, which is published by Islamic Republic of Iran
Broadcasting (IRIB), reported comments by Ahmedinejad that Iran should “move
past sanctions with power.”
Iran’s Great Prophet 7 war-games, in which
the Revolutionary Guards fired short, medium and longrange ballistic missiles at
mock targets in the Semnan Province, dominated Iranian headlines, with most news
agencies featuring color photographs of missile launches.
the missile testing dominated Shargh’s front page, with the headline “military
exercises a response to threats against Iran.” Kayhan on Tuesday headlined with
the war games, noting that they were Iran’s response to “threats and
An IRIB TV news broadcast on Tuesday showed footage of an
IRIB reporter flying over the missile exercise site and viewing launches of
missiles, jets and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Jaam-e Jam reported that
“all missiles hit their targets.”
Thursday was a public holiday in Iran,
as Iranians celebrated the birthday of Muhammad al-Mahdi, the “hidden Imam” who
Twelver Shi’as – the majority faith in Iran – believe will save
According to them, the Mahdi, born in 869 CE, never died but
was hidden by God in 941 and will reveal himself – along with Jesus – to bring
world peace. Many newspapers reported on the upcoming celebrations, including
conservative daily Jomhouriye Eslami, which devoted its Wednesday lead to the
Meanwhile, Egypt and its new Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi,
also dominated Iran’s press, as speculation over whether Mursi will visit Iran
ran rife after Lebanese newspaper as-Safir commented Tuesday that the Egyptian
leader may attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran in
Iran officially cut ties with Cairo in 1979, after Camp
Mursi, who is currently the secretary-general of the Non-Aligned
Movement, could personally assign the position to Iranian president Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad during the summit, as-Safir said.
News, which has links to the Revolutionary Guard, immediately picked up on the
Lebanese report, and quoted Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, as saying
Iran was “looking forward to hosting Morsi.”
In a move that irritated the
Egyptian press, Fars quoted from a controversial interview in which it claimed
the Islamist told its reporters he planned to rekindle relations with Tehran.
Mursi has dismissed the interview as fabricated.
spokesman, Yasser Ali, said Tuesday that the Egyptian president has no plans to
visit Tehran, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported Salehi said Teheran was ready for
“ambassadorial-level” links with Cairo.
In an earlier interview with
Salehi, the ISNA news agency quoted the foreign minister as saying the
Non-Aligned Movement summit had “no relation to bilateral issues.” Regarding
Syria, Salehi told ISNA that Iran was opposed to foreign intervention in the
Iran is the closest regional ally of Syrian president Bashar
Assad, and has supported his regime’s position that violence in Syria is not
perpetrated by the government but by “terrorists and armed
Salehi said that he planned to meet soon with Kofi Annan, the
UN- Arab League’s special envoy to Syria, for further discussion.
widely read Mashregh News website, which is operated by the Revolutionary Guard,
focused on Egypt and – as usual – Israel. On Tuesday, under the headline
“Morsi’s government, which has no hands,” Mashregh examined the challenges
facing the Islamist president and said he must decide about the Camp David peace
accords, about oil and gas exports and Israel’s border with
Mashregh, which frequently runs heavily anti-Israeli and
anti-Semitic articles, ran the first part of what it said is a trilogy
investigating “six decades of crimes” perpetrated by “the sinister Zionist
The story features graphic photographs of dead children, which
Mashregh said were from 1948, and says Palestinians were passive victims
attacked apparently randomly by “Jewish terror groups.” Also mentioned is Baruch
Goldstein, the perpetrator of the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in
Hebron, in which 29 Palestinians died.
Mashregh said Israel has made
Goldstein’s grave into a shrine.
In lighter news, Jomhouriye Eslami
reported on Monday a new fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani
against buying, selling or owning decorative dogs.
Golpaygani, the pedigree lapdogs are being brought into Iran by Westerners in a
plot to erode Iran’s Islamic culture.
Meanwhile, the football-obsessed
Iranian media – soccer is Iran’s favorite sport, and though women are banned
from stadiums there are many stories of girls as young as 11 dressing as boys to
sneak inside to cheer for their teams – gave its usual prominence to the ongoing
trials and tribulations of top Tehran team Persepolis FC, which on Tuesday hired
Portuguese manager Manuel Jose de Jesus Silva. Presumably, Manuel Jose won’t be
bringing any lapdogs with him when he comes to Tehran.