PHOTO: Iran’s 1st Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi sign economic agreements on Monday


Iran’s regime stepped up its claims of influence in Iraq on Monday, as it continues to denounce US intervention against the Islamic State.

Tehran has proclaimed that its military assistance to the Iraqi Government saved it from the jihadist offensive last year and — as nuclear talks with the US and other powers have apparently stalled — its leaders and commanders have restated the claims and the challenge to Washington.

On Saturday, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, announced:

The only country which helped and supported the Muslim states in Islamic Awakening developments was Iran, and when the Islamic State emerged in Iraq, no country but Iran helped with its destruction.

The world, even [US President Barack] Obama, is astonished to see that the Islamic State, with its plan to remain in Iraq for years, was defeated and Iran has turned into a plague for the Islamic State in Iraq.

First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri followed up on Monday, addressing the Iran-Iraq Joint High Commission for Cooperation in Baghdad, “Those that supported the Islamic State have to struggle against the terrorist group now.”

Meanwhile, Iranian officials played up the economic dimension of the relationship as Jahangiri and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi signed 10 documents and memoranda of understanding at the Commission’s meeting.

Iran’s Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia, accompanying Jahangiri, proclaimed that trade between the two countries will soon rise from $12 billion/year to $20 billion.

Tayyebnia continued, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to cooperate and provide technical and engineering services to this country, especially in the fields of construction of roads, power plants and dams.”

US media are supporting Tehran’s effort to proclaim its influence, albeit with a different emphasis. The Washington Post declared on Sunday, “Pro-Iran Militias’ Success in Iraq Could Undermine U.S.

Iran’s military commanders — including the head of the elite Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani — have helped organize the counter-offensive of the militias, as well as Iraqi armed forces, against the Islamic State.

Revolutionary Guards Strike Back at Rafsanjani After His Criticism of Supreme Leader

The Revolutionary Guards have reacted quickly after former President Hashemi Rafsanjani implicitly criticize the rule of the Supreme Leader in a weekend interview.

Rafsanjani, who still heads the Expediency Council and may stand in March for chair of the Assembly of Experts, told a leading newspaper that Iran should have had a ruling council — rather than a single Supreme Leader — after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989.

Hojatoleslam Taeb, the head of the Guards’ Ammar Camp, struck back at Rafsanjani through his son Mehdi Hashemi, on trial for corruption charges?

[His] corruption case is very heavy; howevere, because he is a very professional (thief), he has not left any footprint….The judiciary officials know all his crimes/charges but they don’t have proof.

Mehdi Hashemi’s crimes are universal, and it is possible that by interrogating him, the British Queen or the USA will be exposed.

Taeb said Ayatollah Mohammadi Hashemi Shahroudi, former head of judiciary, should be the next chairman of the Assembly of Experts, which has nominal authority to choose and replace the Supreme Leader.

Taeb then said, “The problem with Hashemi Rafsanjani is that he does not have basirat [insight]. This means that it takes him 10 years to understand what he needs to understand today.”

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a Tehran Friday Prayer Leader, also pushed back against Rafsanjani on Monday: “Some people talk about a ‘leadership council’ but the experience has shown that you cannot run the country through a council.”

However, Rafsanjani may have made the most significant move yesterday. The Expediency Council passed a ruling banning any involvement and interference in elections by military personnel and groups, including the Revolutionary Guards.

Hardline Owner of Banned Newspaper Hits Back at Rouhani Government

MP Hamid Rasaei, the owner of the banned weekly newspaper 9Dey, has hit back at the Rouhani Government: “These people are angry with me because I was pressing for the Minister of Culture to go on interpellation [questioning by Parliament]. We have to thank God that this low-tolerance government allows its critics to breathe!”

The Press Supervisory Board suspended 9Dey this week because of its criticism of Iran’s nuclear negotiators, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The Board found the newspaper had been “insulting towards the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] and against the regime’s nuclear policy”.

See Iran Daily, Feb 16: Hardline Weekly Banned for Criticizing Government Over Nuclear Talks

Judiciary: Former President Khatami Banned from Appearing in Media

Iran Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei confirmed on Monday that former President Mohammad Khatami has been banned from appearing in the media.

Ejei told a press conference, “The media is not allowed to reflect the image or statement of the head of the reformist government.”

Khatami was President from 1997 to 2005.

Ejei said the order was issued some time ago and warned that any media outlet violating it will be prosecuted.

Khatami is also reportedly banned from travelling abroad.

Supreme Leader Uses “American Sniper” and Chapel Hill Shootings in Latest PR Campaign

The Supreme Leader has found support from the US film industry — and from last week’s murder of three Muslims in North Carolina — for his latest PR declaration:

Addressing Parliamentary representatives of minorities, Ayatollah Khamenei contrasted this oppression of Muslim with the Islamic Republic’s treatment of other communities: