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SUMMARY: Following last Friday’s revelation that 14 border guards — including members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — were killed by the Sunni insurgent group Jaish ul-Adl (pictured) in southeastern Iran, concern in Iranian media is growing.

The worry is headlined in Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, with its English-language site featuring four articles.

The IRGC issued a statement insisting, “Terrorist actions under the command and support of the spy agencies of the arrogant and colonial powers will not be able to harm the sincere and determined will of the Iranian nation.”

The Guards asserted, “Defenders of the Islamic Revolution and borders of the country will continue combating the anti-revolutionaries, outlaws and aggressive terrorists decisively and powerfully in future.”

See Iran Spotlight: Sunni Insurgent Group Jaish ul-Adl Claims Responsibility For Attack On Border Guards

As Tehran said the attackers fled from Sistan and Baluchestan Province into Pakistan, Iran’s Chief of Police Esmail Ahmadi Moqaddam lashed out,
“The Pakistani government has always condemned these attacks, but it brings excuses that it does not have a strong presence along the border with Iran and it cannot, hence, control the border. These are all excuses and we cannot accept them.”

Senior MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi added, “If Pakistanis are unable to take appropriate measures in that regard, they should allow our forces to enter the Pakistani soil to hunt for and pursue the rogue elements.”

The Commander of the Border Guard Force, Hossein Zolfaqari, accused countries in and beyond the region of providing financial and intelligence support to the insurgents:

Based on the authentic intelligence that we have, terrorist grouplets are supported financially by two countries in the region and outside the region.

Also, three countries in and outside the region are providing intelligence and technical equipment to the terrorist grouplets.

The terrorist grouplets never had the power to attack the Islamic Republic’s border guards if they were not supported by other countries.

And the judiciary said eight members of the Jundullah insurgency — already in prison and unconnected with the killing of the border guards — had been executed because the “terrorist attack proved that the terrorist group hasn’t changed its approach and is still continuing its terrorist acts against the innocent Iranian people”.

A judicial official said over the weekend that 16 prisoners had been put to death.

The articles put into sharp relief last week’s declaration by the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, that 11 “terrorist” plots had been foiled recently by Iranian forces.

Tehran has maintained that, with the executions in 2011 of Jundullah’s leaders, the insurgency in the southeast had been quelled. However, the continued presence of the faction Harakat Ansar Iran and the emergence of a new Sunni group, Jaish ul-Adl, put a question mark over the claims.

On Monday, Jaish ul-Adl announced via Facebook that they had kidnapped two Iranian intelligence officers from the border area. According to a statement on the group’s Facebook page, several insurgents captured the officers who they claimed were planning an ambush against the group. The group called on the Iranian military and security services to leave the area. The Facebook page on which the announcement was made is in Arabic and apparently run out of Pakistan.

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Rouhani: “Economic Statistics Are Frightening”

As his Government attempts to move away from the economic policies of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Rouhani has declared that “the statistics are frightening“.

Rouhani cited issues such as the Government deficit, debt, falling foreigh exchange reserves, and food supplies.

Actress Pegah Ahangarani Sentenced to 18 Months

Prominent actress Pegah Ahangarani has been given an 18-month prison sentence, according to her mother.

Ahangarani has been barred from travel abroad for almost three years, including a recent prohibition preventing her attendance at a Chicago film festival.

In Julyn 2011, Ahangarani was detained when she tried to go to Germany to participate in TV programmes about the Women’s World Cup football tournament.

Oil Minister: We Cannot Afford Support Payments For Higher Fuel Costs

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has said Iran’s energy companies cannot afford support payments to families, set up in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s subsidy cuts plan of 2010, to cover higher fuel prices.

Zanganeh said the firms are required under the current annual budget to pay 270 trillion Rials (about $9 billion) in cash to Iranians.

“We have to sell crude oil in order to be able to deposit the necessary resources into Treasury,” Zanganeh said on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran. “But we cannot afford it.”

He said Iran’s national oil and gas companies would spend all their revenues on the payments and have nothing left to invest in projects.

Senior Government officials warned in August that Iran faces a shortfall of more than 30% in this year’s budget of around $68 billion earmarked for March 2013-March 2014.

Sunni Insurgents Jaish ul-Adl Claim Kidnap Of Iranian Intelligence Officers

Sistan-Baluchistan based Sunni insurgent group Jaish ul-Adl announced Monday that they had kidnapped two Iranian intelligence officers from the border area. According to a statement on the group’s Facebook page, several insurgents captured the officers who they claimed were planning an ambush against the group. The group called on the Iranian military and security services to leave the area.

Reformist Newspaper Bahar Suspended Again

Reformist newspaper Bahar has been suspended for publishing an article which has criticised for questioning the beliefs of Shia Islam.

“Based on the verdict issued by the press supervisory board, Bahar newspaper has been banned and its case has been referred to the judiciary,” the head of the board, Alaedin Zohourian, said.

Bahar issued a note of apology, saying it temporarily suspended activities on Saturday to “ease the tensions”:

“The article which has sadly hurt the feelings of the believers was published due to a technical error….Editorial has apologised several times and criticised the article to show it was contrary to Bahar’s line.

Bahar has been suspended on several activities in recent years.

Parliament Approves 2 Rouhani Ministers, Rejects Another

Parliament approved President Rouhani’s choices for Science and Higher Education Minister and for Education Minister on Sunday, while rejecting his nominees for Sports and Youth Minister.

All three men were put forward as replacements for Rouhani selections who were blocked by Parliament in August.

Reza Faraji Dana was approved as Science Minister and Ali Asghar Fani as Education Minister.

Reza Salehi Amiri, a leading members of Rouhani’s Presidential campaign team, was rejected as Sports and Youth Minister, with critics accusing him of a lack of experience, mismanagement of other positions, and links with protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election.

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Anti-US Billboards

Over the last week, a curious political drama has been playing out over the appearance of billboards in Tehran accusing the US of dishonesty in negotiations.

Paralleling criticism of lead American nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman, the billboards derided the “US Style of Honesty” as they showed a US diplomat wearing military boots, a Doberman at his side.

However, authorities have now ordered that the billboards be taken down, claiming that proper procedures were now followed for their installation.

In some locations, new billboards have appeared, “We do no harm and accept no harm.”

Voice of America claims that the anti-American billboards were produced by the Owj Media and Cultural Institute, linked to officials of the former Ahmadinejad Government, including Deputy Culture Minister Mohammad-Ali Ramin.