By Hossein Mohammadi, Rooz Online
cartoon by Mana Neyestani, Iranwire.com
The debate over the 30-minute telephone conversation between Hassan Rowhani and Barack Obama in New York last month, and the possibility of future talks between the two counties, continues to be the hot debate in Iran’s political circles. Some hardline and conservative principlists (the group that proclaims to advance the originals goals of the 1979 revolution which includes Ahmadinejad and his supporters) believe that Rowhani should not have talked to Obama and that doing so has hurt the credibility of the Islamic regime.
At the same time, Ali Saeedi, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader in the Revolutionary Guards force has explained in detail the reasons why ayatollah Khamenei has changed his foreign policy tactics.
Speaking in the city of Isfahan, Saeedi pointed to a difference in the political course of the founder of the Islamic regime ayatollah Khomeini and the current leader Khamenei and said the differences were based on “wisdom and the glory of the regime.” “The vali faghih (the supreme cleric) must move and manage on this basis. The principle of jihad is constant but the way to accomplish it varies and depends on time (current circumstances) and conditions as determined by the vali faghih of the time,” he said.
He attributed the causes of the change in foreign policy tactics to these issues: “Number of people, size of resources and equipment, changes to the outside world, level of threats and the behavior of the opposing front.”
Saeedi continued his rationalization with these words: “Some people today point to the words of ayatollah Khomeini and say that he favored ending the ‘Death to the US’ chants but our questions to them is - is this slogan permanent or a variable. The ‘Death to the US’ slogan is among changeable slogans and this is the exclusive prerogative of the current vali faghih.”
“The supreme leader of the revolution not only views talks with the US as part of the resolution of the nuclear issue, through flexible heroism, which is flexibility through strength and glory,” Saeedi continued.
Another politician to comment on this recently was the speaker of the Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of Iran’s committee on human rights in the judiciary branch of government. He characterized the Obama-Rowhani telephone conversation to be an inappropriate act because, in his words, “The Islamic republic has to act in a manner so that no mistakes or the minutest errors are made in its heroic diplomacy.”
Mohammad Javad Larijani has remained a second tier politician in Iran for decades and never made it to head a government agency as a minister. During ayatollah Khomeini’s era he was put aside on two occasions, once when there was talk of appointing him to head the state-run national radio and television organization and the second time when he was considered to be the number two man at the foreign ministry. During Ahmadinejad’s presidency, he viewed talks with the US to be okay, even if held in Hell. “The conversation between Rowhani and Obama was a plot created by the Zionist regime. Israel wanted to show that our president did not enjoy support at home and that his talks at the UN were his personal views.”
But these remarks by Larijani have brought forth a response from the media, even the principlist Jomhurie Islami newspaper, which wrote, “We have two important messages for Mr. Mohammad Javad Larijani which we hope he will take seriously. First, pay attention to the suspicious activities in these days that indicate the presence of a comprehensive drive by those who were defeated in the June presidential election to take revenge on Dr Rowhani and his supporters, and not fall into this dangerous and futile trap. Second, trust the historic memory of the Iranian people who remember the episode of your talks with Nick Brown from Britain, your removal from the foreign ministry and your 8-year support for Ahmadinejad who may, if necessary, revive them in detail for review.”
Mohammad Javad Larijani is the eldest brother of the Larijani family, two others of whom hold senior positions in the Islamic republic, one is the head of the legislative branch - the Majlis - and the other is the head of the judiciary branch. The newspaper editorial concluded with these words: “Our advice to your intellectual retirement is to distance yourself from the political ill-wishers who are busy creating fire.”
Another influential cleric, Ali-Reza Panahian affiliated to the Ammar military base provided his reasons for the change in Khamenei’s tactics in these words. “The United States was more powerful 30 years ago while Iran is more powerful than it was 30 years ago. This indicates that the senior management in the Islamic republic is stronger than that of the US. If this is clearly explained to people, they will not be concerned so much with the US.”
Still, these comments and this debate continue while participants to the congregational Friday prayer sessions in Tehran for the second consecutive week participated in the “distrust in America’ march after the prayers and burned the US and Israeli flags.
Another conservative website, Alef, belonging to Ahmad Tavakoli opined on the future Ira-US relations with these words: “What some hardline principlists expect is the US to immediately apologize for its past actions, end its support of Israel the next day and then follow Iran’s views the following day, which are nothing but impossible dreams.”
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