Highlights in the Iranian Press (February 24-29)

Highlights in the Iranian Press (February 24-29)
The media's agenda in the week immediately preceding the election date was mostly oriented towards the elections.
You can change the font size of the text by pressing the + and - buttons.

In Iran, the Islamic Consultative Assembly and the Assembly of Experts elections were held concurrently last Friday (March 1). Consequently, the media's agenda in the week immediately preceding the election date was mostly oriented towards the elections. The entire week was spent in discussions about the lists as they became finalized. However, the primary focus of discussion was again on participation. Participation was also a key theme in the statements made last week by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Delegations from Russia and Iran met in Tehran for the 17th Economic Cooperation Meeting, during which a series of agreements were signed between the two countries. These agreements remained under the shadow of the election agenda in the Iranian press.

Article on Participation Themed around the Intelligence Ministry

An article titled "The Delicate Barrier and the Observant Eye" was published on February 26th in the Jam-e Jam, introducing the activities of the Intelligence Ministry, focusing mainly on Counter-Intelligence activities. The article, inherently featuring rounded statements due to its content, covered various topics including combating economic crimes, striking against terrorist groups, fighting deviant sects, combating drug trafficking, cybercrimes, and arms smuggling, without providing any specific information or statements.

In the introduction, the article paralleled the ongoing theme in Iran that "only enemies would not want participation!" According to this argument, a long-standing psychological warfare has been waged against Iran, aiming to create a rift between the government and its people. The relevant section of the article mentioned, "The enemies have initiated a broad psychological war against the Intelligence Ministry, attempting to influence the thoughts of the Iranian people and wage a soft war against them, thereby gaining an advantage in the governance system. They aim to create psychological insecurity among the Iranian populace and sow seeds of division between the people and officials, especially inducing despair among the younger generations, as part of their old tactics redefined under new projects."

The part that makes the article particularly interesting is the final section titled "The Role of Elections in Enhancing National Security." It is noteworthy that an article elaborating on and praising the activities of the Intelligence Ministry includes a section directly calling for participation in elections. Given the ministry's reputation as a feared entity, the direct delivery of this message is significant. The mentioned section reads, "The studies demonstrate that political, economic, and social conditions, as well as the execution of elections and the community's participation in this political act, have significant domestic, regional, and international impacts. One of these impacts is the increase in security, a function of the Intelligence Ministry. Hence, the Intelligence Ministry is obligated to ensure the conduct of secure and healthy elections in accordance with the strategies set by the Leader." The public is called upon to participate in the elections in this section.

 Calls for Women's Participation in Elections

On the eve of the elections, there were several reports and articles encouraging women's participation. One example was a report by the Shahrvand newspaper highlighting women's participation, titled "Women; The Eye and Light of the Parliament" sharing statistics and statements from officials about women who registered for the elections. Similarly, a conversation with Nayyirah Ghavi, a member of the Unity Council, and activist Nadireh Rezai, featured in the Jam-e Jam, was headlined "Society Awaits Women's Political Participation." The discussion, focused on women's participation, quoted Ghavi saying, "Overall, since the Revolution, the role and presence of women have improved significantly, and we see that the majority of university graduates are women. The condition of society necessitates a more serious presence of women, and I believe that women need to have a more serious and noticeable presence in different lists compared to previous terms."

Supreme Leader Khamenei's Call for Participation

Calls for participation are not new in Iran. Indeed, the Supreme Leader has always emphasized participation in elections as a religious duty before every election. This election was distinguished by two issues. First, the securitization of the participation topic, emphasized throughout the year by the press, opinion leaders, and politicians, underlining that reducing participation would be in the enemy's favor and a national issue. Second, unlike previous instances where Khamenei framed the call for participation as a religious duty, his last speech before the election emphasized "Iran" and "patriotism." Khamenei's statements were headlined by the Kayhan as "Everyone Who Loves Iran Should Be Active in the Elections" and by the Hamshahri as "Lovers of Iran! Our Meeting Is on Friday. Supreme Leader: If Elections Are Weak, Everyone Suffers." Jam-e Jam used the headline "For the Sake of the Homeland," featuring an image of the Iranian flag formed by voting stamps.

Economic Cooperation Meeting Between Russia and Iran

On Wednesday, February 28, Russian and Iranian commissions convened at the Espinas Palace Hotel in Tehran for the 17th Economic Cooperation Meeting. The meeting, co-chaired by Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, resulted in the signing of 19 cooperation documents.

The agreements between the two countries included a roadmap for scientific and technical cooperation in the oil and gas industries; a state agreement in the field of health and medical education; an operational program between Iran's Ministry of Roads and Urban Development and Russia's Ministry of Construction, Housing, and Utilities; a cooperation agreement in the field of standards; a tripartite geological agreement between the Geological Survey of Iran, the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), and Russia's Rosgeologia; a cooperation agreement in the petrochemical sector; a cooperation agreement between the Anzali Free Zone and Russia's Lotus Free Zone; a memorandum of understanding between the National Iranian Oil Company and Russia's Zarubezhneft; a cooperation agreement between the Modares Science and Technology Company and Russia's NAMI Research Center; a cooperation agreement between the Federation of Iranian Energy and Related Industries Exporters and Russia's "Energo Petrochem Export" Association; and several university cooperation agreements aimed at enhancing document and student exchange, applied research, and short-term training programs.

Issues of Teacher Salaries and Rights

The plight of teachers in Iran has been a longstanding subject of news coverage, including teacher protests and the arrest of protest organizers on charges of espionage. Even the article discussing the Intelligence Ministry's activities mentioned the arrest of two European spies in Bushehr linked to organizing teacher protests. Furthermore, the challenges faced by teachers and the educational sector have been a frequent topic of columns and analyses in Iran. This week, Jam-e Jam newspaper revisited these issues, highlighting the problems of contractual teachers and presenting their demands, including calls for permanent positions without examinations, questioning the need for signing payrolls before receiving salaries, and addressing the disparity in treatment compared to other hired personnel, among other concerns. The relevant part is as follows:

Contractual Teachers' Primary Demands and Complaints

- We believe that our most fundamental right is to be appointed to permanent positions primarily.

- We should be appointed to permanent positions within the Ministry of Education and Training without the need for examinations.

- Why do we need to sign the payroll before receiving our salary?

- Why are staff hired for capacity increases easily employed, while we are not?

- Unlike other teachers, we only receive a salary for eight months of the year.

- Contractual teachers are deprived of the school milk quota.

- Pregnant teachers are required to continue working under all circumstances.

- Contractual staff do not have maternity leave.