Highlights in the Iranian Press (January 20-24)

Highlights in the Iranian Press (January 20-24)
The aftermath of last week's attacks still resonates within the Iranian domestic public sphere.
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Researcher Oral Toğa

This week in the Iranian press (January 20-24, 2024 / 30 Dey-4 Bahman, 1402), the main topics included Iran's strikes on Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria, the ongoing situation in Yemen, the deaths of Revolutionary Guards Corps members in Syria, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's long-postponed visit to Türkiye. However, detailed analyses in the print media have not yet been published due to a public holiday in Iran immediately following President Raisi's visit. This account will focus on the articles written prior to and on the day of the visit.

Bombing of Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria by Iran

The aftermath of last week's attacks still resonates within the Iranian domestic public sphere. The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made efforts to quickly mend relations with Pakistan, which have been reflected in the Iranian media. The emphasis has been on the friendship between the two countries and their united stance against terrorism. The two nations have made swift progress and normalized relations rapidly. Initially, articles were written in a tone suggesting that creating issues between the two countries would play into the enemy's hands, while the outcomes of the attacks remained unclear. For example, an article titled 'Iran and Pakistan Relations Full and Free of Tension' was published on January 20 in the Hamshahri newspaper. The article quoted Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, spokesperson for Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who stated that 'Iran is a brotherly country, and the people of Pakistan hold great respect and love for the people of Iran. We will continue our efforts to find common solutions through dialogue and cooperation in battling common challenges like the threat of terrorism.' Collaboration is crucial in combating terrorism, and we aim to maintain our interactions with all neighboring countries, including Iran. The article also features comments from Shahriar Heydari, Deputy Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, who stated that Pakistan's reaction was more focused on its internal politics rather than on Iran.

On the same day, the Jam-e Jam newspaper published an analysis by Fereshte Moslemi titled 'Iran's Consecutive Operations in the Region.' The article highlights Iran's deterrence by discussing the Revolutionary Guard's ability to conduct operations in multiple locations simultaneously, the passive response of Iran's enemies to these operations, and the deterrence effect of missile operations.

The spokesperson for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanaani, responded to the condemnation of Iran's operations by the Arab League foreign ministers. Kanaani's response was widely covered in the Iranian press. According to a report in the Kayhan newspaper, Kanaani stated that Iran will not hesitate to intervene defensively against sources that threaten its national security and punish the criminals.

The Yemen Issue and Houthi Attacks

The Iranian media persistently highlights the activities of the Houthis in Yemen, particularly in conservative outlets. They report every detail of the Houthi attacks and present reactions from global media such as Reuters and Foreign Affairs to readers. Furthermore, statements from groups in Sana'a receive significant coverage in the Iranian press, seemingly to portray the Houthi groups as the sole legitimate entity in Yemen.

According to a report in ISNA, the Houthi government in Sana'a has received positive feedback and approaches from 'Arab and friendly' countries regarding their attacks and interventions. The report included statements indicating that they have received positive reactions from friendly nations regarding their widespread attacks on enemy ships or ports in occupied territories.

Deaths of Revolutionary Guards Corps Members in Syria

On January 20, 2024, a total of 12 individuals, including 5 high-ranking members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, were killed in attacks in Damascus. The Iranian media responded to this event with strong criticism, labeling it a "Zionist Regime's Terrorist Attack." Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian condemned the attack, describing Israel as "the primary partner of major terrorist movements and the first-degree enemy of regional security, in addition to committing genocide in Gaza and violating Syria's territorial integrity by assassinating Iranian military advisors in Syria who were there at the invitation of the Syrian government."

Iranian Media Prior to President Raisi's Visit to Türkiye

Following the announcement of Iranian President Raisi's impending visit to Türkiye, which had been previously postponed, the Iranian media interestingly began circulating some reports that could potentially harm bilateral relations. For example, an analysis titled "Erdogan and the Gulf Sheikhs' Betrayal of Palestine" published in Fars News on January 22, 2024, claimed, "A bloc in the management of Islamic countries is supporting the Zionist regime's massacre machine in Gaza. Here, Türkiye, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are particularly mentioned." The analysis further noted, "The most interesting part of this scenario is Erdogan himself. Everyone paying attention to Erdogan's statements since the beginning of the massacre in Gaza would think that the Turkish government is at the forefront against Israel and a defender of the Palestinian cause. Few world leaders speak as loudly against the Zionist regime as Erdogan, who even compared Netanyahu to Hitler. However, trade between Türkiye and Israel, simultaneously with Erdogan's statements, is experiencing its best period in history. Türkiye's exports to Israel increased by 34.8% from $319.5 million (November) to $430.6 million (December) during the peak of the Gaza massacre. It's significant that the trade relations between Türkiye and Israel were at $408.3 million in October, before the Gaza genocide, which is lower than the current figure!" The analysis also included a critique of Azerbaijan-Israel relations and accused Türkiye of indifference, stating, "The Baku regime is one of the biggest oil suppliers to the Tel Aviv regime, and this oil reaches Israel via Türkiye. Türkiye could have significantly disrupted the operations of Israeli tanks and warplanes in this context."

Another interesting report published the same day in Jam-e Jam titled "Türkiye's Dangerous Gift: The New Coronavirus" suggested that the situation in Türkiye is not promising, with intensive care occupancy rates around 90%. The report also claimed that Iran is at risk "because of Türkiye," stating, "Currently, two out of every ten patients in intensive care in Türkiye are simultaneously infected with both the flu and coronavirus, complicating the situation. Türkiye's current state could affect us tomorrow, as we share many common features and have extensive relations. If necessary health measures are not taken, the simultaneous spread of the flu and coronavirus could put us in a difficult position."

However, this media stance did not last long, and on the day of President Raisi's visit to Türkiye, various Iranian news agencies and websites reflected positive content. Generally, the positive messages of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Abdullahiyan were conveyed, using nearly identical texts everywhere. From Saturday, January 27, analyses related to the visit will begin appearing in the press.

Mehr News Agency highlighted President Raisi's statement, "We Have a Common Stance with Türkiye in Supporting Palestine," while ISNA headlined the Iranian Foreign Minister's words, "We See Türkiye as a Priority Partner in Our Foreign Policy Strategy." Similarly, IRNA reported on President Raisi's comments emphasizing the economic potential and relations between the two countries.