This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)
Mashregh’s problematic content is the brainchild of shadowy IRGC management
Staffed by hard-line management whose members include execs from its big brother Fars News, the news agency Mashregh is a relatively new online media outlet controlled by the IRGC. As such, its content promotes Ali Khamenei’s ideology and the corps’ political agenda.
Of the three people on its board of directors, one conspicuously lacks a public footprint (Afshar), another is on the coalition of Principlist parties who support President Ebrahim Raisi and install IRGC members into newsrooms (Davari) and the third, (Qobadi) has overseen at least two purges at Fars and IRNA news agencies. (The evidence suggests he is an IRGC intelligence officer.)
Registered as “Yavaran Khorshid Mashregh Cultural and Media Institute” on June 24, 2012, Mashregh is a news website closely affiliated with the IRGC. It heavily focuses on promoting concepts and slogans put forth by Iran’s leader Ali Khamenei, as our previous reporting has shown.
Mashregh’s articles of incorporation outline its objectives as “disseminating information and news, enlightening public opinion in line with the policies of the sacred Islamic Republic regime, news coverage of the three branches of government, “establishing communication with other independent media outlets, especially in the Muslim world,” and “paying serious attention to setting professional standards and observing professional and media ethics”, “cooperation, and collaboration with various [government] organizations to fulfill the mission of news delivery,” “obtaining loans from domestic and foreign banks and financial institutions, establishing branches domestically or internationally,” among other things.
The “About Us” section of Mashregh’s website lacks concrete information about its activities and instead presents a lengthy essay that expresses hardline and pro-regime views.
The website features sections including “Softwar“, a term coined by Khamenei), “Jihad and Resistance“, which contains propaganda about Quds Force operatives, their activities, and capabilities, as well as Hezbollah (Lebanon) and other anti-Israel allies of the Islamic Republic and spy captures, “Defense and Security”, which disseminates propaganda regarding the exaggerated accomplishments of the Islamic Republic’s armed forces, and Society, whose articles often contain harmful disinformation.
The website also cherry-picks social media posts from Twitter, Telegram, and a government-sponsored messaging application called EITAA.
Mashregh’s Notable IRGC Board Members
Kamran Qobadi (Board Member)
Qobadi is one of the founding and current board members of Mashregh. Additionally, he has previously held the position of editor-in-chief at Mashregh. According to the news portal Zeitoons, Qobadi is reportedly a member of the IRGC intelligence apparatus.
In March 2016 Qobadi allegedly assisted an IRGC member named HamidReza Tabatabaei, who was poised to become the CEO of the news agency, in purging 50 “undesirable individuals” from the media outlet, according to a number of news websites.
During the inauguration ceremony, IRNA CEO Ali Naderi described Qobadi as an “experienced media” manager and “transformative figure” who has been “instrumental in bringing about innovative changes in many media outlets” and a “Hezbollahi”1 individual “aligned with the path of the “martyrs and SL”
Qobadi, in turn, said that he had been stationed at IRNA for some time and had “conducted various investigations”, adding that he would begin a period of transformation at IRNA with the help of staff.
Unsurprisingly, by August 4, 2022, reports began to emerge on social media about layoffs at IRNA, with one Tweet revealing that reporters learned of their termination through a WhatsApp message. According to subsequent reports from IranWire and Melliun, 500 reporters were laid off from IRNA.
As an illustration of his Hezbollahi past, Qobadi was one of the signatories of a letter asking the notorious judge Mohammad Moghiseh to prosecute late president Hashemi Rafsanjani’s son Mehdi Hashemi in February 2015. Qobadi was also a signatory of a 2014 petition by hardline and ultraconservative “media workers” demanding that they be sent to Gaza to cover what they described as “unprecedented atrocities committed in the Strip.”
Reza Davari (CEO, Board Chairman )
Davari is one of the founding members of Mashregh and has been CEO and chairman of its board of directors since its inception. According to Zeitoons, Reza Davari is also an IRGC member who at one point appointed Reza Garmabdari editor-in-chief at Mashregh.
On August 17, 2022, Davari became the secretary of the Coalition Council of Islamic Revolution Forces. This conservative coalition of parties was founded in 2019 and is led by Gholam Ali Hadad Adel, whose daughter Zahra is married to Mojtaba Khamenei.
Meysam Afshar (Board Member)
Afshar is the third founding member of Mashregh. Aside from two RRK records pertaining to Mashregh, there are no other mentions of Afshar in public records. This in itself raises red flags. It suggests his name and personal information, the reporting of which is a standard requirement in such high-profile appointments, was intentionally omitted to protect his identity.
- “Hezbollahi” refers to die-hard regime supporters who have historically participated in mob violence, attacking individuals deemed counter-revolutionaries by the regime, without facing significant police intervention or fear of prosecution.
This post is also available in: فارسی (Persian)