At the 20th National Assembly of Commanders and Officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), President Hassan Rouhani praised the efforts of the IRGC in defending the country and asked for its help in economic matters, while asking it to function as a non-partisan group in Iran’s domestic political affairs. Rouhani also took arguably his strongest stance to date on the civil war in Syria, blaming the West for taking action for the benefit of Israel.
Iran’s police chief, Cmdr. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, opposed a new harsh plan to deport Afghan refugees illegally living in Iran.
Iran’s government has tried various plans to address the reportedly 2 million to 3 million Afghan refugees in the country, having even tried a voluntary self-deportation plan that failed. Many Afghans in Iran have taken jobs as day laborers with little guarantee of work.
Afghan refugees have fled to Iran intermittently over the last three decades because of continuing conflict in their homeland. They have faced various forms of discrimination in education, housing and employment, which has increased in recent years as Iran’s economy has taken a hit from Western sanctions.
Iran’s latest plan gave Afghan refugees who are in the country illegally until September 6 to leave or face a fine and deportation. The responsibility of deportations would be in the hands of the police.
However, Ahmadi Moghaddam strongly criticized the latest plan and the recent treatment of Afghans by the police in Qom.
On his opposition to the latest plan and the improbability of keeping Iran’s borders closed, Ahmadi Moghaddam said: “We cannot deport all the Afghans from the country, and we are opposed to these thoughts that appear to some individuals overnight to solve our economic problems. We have closed the borders but they come through sea or gaps in the borders. Even though many Afghans enter the country with passports and visas, they don’t return.”
To deport all Afghan nationals under three months is not possible according to Ahmadi Moghaddam, adding that “we have the power but it does not mean you have to use power everywhere.” He stressed the need for the Police, Intelligence Ministry, Supreme National Security Council, and the Foreign Ministry to hold a session in order to create a “logical” plan regarding the exportation of Afghans.
On previous deportations, Ahmadi Moghaddam said that “some years back, when we deported Afghans, many of the country’s farms and brick factories suspended [work]. Iranians are looking for work but they will not do this type of work.” He continued: “Our youth, because they have college degrees, want a desk and a cell phone to conduct business.”
On a recent incident in Qom involving the police and Afghan nationals, Ahmadi Moghaddam said that “a report came to me recently that foreign nationals were receiving ill treatment and immediately I sent someone to investigate the matter.”
He continued: “These individuals are our brothers and because of the situation in their country have sought refuge in our country. We must not look down on them because among them many are scholars and scientists, of course, laborers are also respectful for us.” He added that he told police officials in Qom that when it comes to foreign nationals “not even one hour of ill treatment is acceptable.”
Ahmadi Moghaddam said that “when we see videos of refugees from Myanmar we feel bad for them…but when they want to pass through the country we say arrest them, they have cholera.” He continued that many people who immigrate under these conditions are die and that Iran must have a “humanitarian view” toward the matter.
According to Iran’s oil minister, billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani owes the Iranian treasury $2 billion.
Zanjani, who has referred to himself as an “economic basiji,” is a controversial businessman who owns various international companies, including an Iranian airline and a soccer team. He and his companies are sanctioned by both the European Union and the United States. When the US sanctions against him were announced in April, Zanjani bragged that it was “good publicity.”
At a meeting of Friday prayer leaders today, President Hassan Rouhani spoke about events in the region, including nuclear negotiations between the West and Iran.
In regard to the nuclear file, Rouhani said, “Maybe in the following weeks the first negotiations about the nuclear case will take place in New York and later be continued with P5+1 [the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany] at a designated location.” He continued, “The administration will put all of its efforts toward working for the nation’s inalienable rights and will try to resolve this issue with reason, logic and wisdom combined with esteem.”
Ali Akbar Salehi, who served as Iran’s foreign minister from 2011 to 2013 under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration, spoke with Iranian media about the perception of some within the government toward the tightening of sanctions against Iran, the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran in 2011 and communications with the US.
In an interview with an administration-affiliated news agency, Salehi claims that he had warned administration officials about the possibility of new sanctions from Western countries in a letter, but that his warnings were not taken seriously.
The head of Iran’s Quds Force, which is in charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s operations outside of Iran’s borders, reportedly spoke yesterday about Syria at a meeting of the Assembly of Experts.
According to an assembly member who was present at the meeting, Major General Ghassem Soleimani said that “Some criticize why we support Syria so much. To them, we have to answer that we do not pay attention to the propaganda of the enemy, because Syria is the frontline of resistance and this reality is undeniable. We have a duty to defend Muslims because they are under pressure and oppression.”
Iranian Interior Minister Abdulreza Rahmani Fazli spoke today about the financial condition of Iran’s municipalities.
In regard to “problems from the ninth and tenth governments [President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two terms] with payments in Tehran municipality, especially in public transportation,” Rahmani Fazli said that “Because revenues did not cover the costs, 70% of the country’s municipalities are bankrupt.”