Basij Head General Naghdi Responds to President Rouhani's Remarks
As differences and jabs between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards force (IRGC) and the administration of Hassan Rouhani grow by the day, less than a day after Rouhani called opponents of the nuclear talks “illusionary” and his emphasis that “Our ideals are not dependent on centrifuges,” a deputy IRGC the commander and the head of the para-military Basij force which operates under its command responded to these remarks and without naming Rouhani by name called him “unwise” and “fake revolutionary” who talks of “ending the struggle.”
Speaking to a group of Basij members, Guards General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi said, “A person who strives for the promotion of God’s pleasure becomes more revolutionary with age. Fake revolutionaries who do not work for God talk of ending the struggle in the name of reason because they have lost the youthful zeal. They are unwise because they have wasted their youth.”
He continued, “Today, as fake revolutionaries who jumped on the bandwagon to attain posts and wealth have aged, talk of compromise under the guise of reason and believe that the struggle must end. They expect us to give them the reins of power. Those who go hunting on the 28th of the month of Safar and water ski on the day of Ashura want to take control of the affairs.”
Naghdi highlighted the remarks that Rouhani had made earlier this week by saying: “Our ideals are not centrifuges. Our ideals are the annihilation of the house of oppressors and the destruction of America’s White House; Our ideals are the extinction of Zionism. Anybody who does not believe in these ideals and strives to strike them out under the guise of reason should honestly announce that he is not a revolutionary. But we shall strive for these ideals even if all our hair turns grey and our commitment will not end.”
On January 4th, 2015 during a conference on Iran’s troubling economy criticized those who opposed the nuclear talks that his administration has been pursuing with six major world powers with the goal of lifting the international economic sanctions on Tehran. “We want a continuous and comprehensive development. Our political experience tells us that the country cannot have continuous growth when it is in isolation. This does not mean we have to give up our principles and ideals. Nobody talks of ideals and principles at the (nuclear) negotiations. Some people live under illusions. Today’s world is all about interests,” he said. He continued, “At the negotiations table neither party talks of principles or ideals because every country today pursues its own interests and desires. So the foundation of foreign policy is interests and not principles or ideals.” In the first Geneva nuclear agreement there was no talk of ideals and principles. We talked and reached an agreement. This is because we had a specific demand and they raised theirs. Under the Geneva agreement some of the sanctions in the field of aut0omobiles, petrochemicals and shipping have been removed and some of our blocked assets have been freed. In return, we demonstrated more transparency and agreed to suspend temporarily a specific type of enrichment which we have no need for. Do these amount to questioning our ideals and principles? Ideals are not linked to centrifuges but to minds, hearts and our will.”
Differences between IRGC commanders and appointees of the supreme leader have been growing in recent months. Neither side specifically mentions the other by name yet each reacts quickly to the positions and remarks of the other. The top IRGC commander recently publicly denied the existence of differences between the two groups and even claimed that it was the enemies wanted to give the illusion of confrontation between the Guards and the administration. “This is the psychological and setting operational goal of our enemies,” he said.
Earlier, on December 28 Rouhani had implicitly attached the boasts of the military when he publicly said, “Are we strong if we have all kinds of military equipment in our possession but rely on others for our needs in wheat, rye, meat, cooking oil and sugar? Some people seem to think that if the range of our missiles increases we will have more strength. When are strong when we are near self-sufficiency in many products.”
The response came sharply the next day. The representative of ayatollah Khamenei in the IRGC, cleric Ali Saeedi said, “Some question why Iran has to bear the costs of occupied Palestine. They believe that if we want to have economic growth then we need to have relations with the West; we must be in line with the rest of the world and move within the set frameworks. But we say what is it that has brought victory to the people of Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the resistance? What Israel fears are these very missiles. These missiles have been built with local labor. Do not doubt that missiles are one of the factors of our strength.”
On December 30th, IRGC’s official news agency quoted Saeedi to have been more specific in his reaction to Rouhani. “Some of our officials take action within international rules and believe that we must reach a deal with the chieftain (a reference to the US), even if we have to give some concessions that are against our national interest. But our supreme leader of the revolution has stressed that the way to breakthrough the current conditions is domestic strength. The other side believes in solving the issues externally through diplomacy. Certainly talks with the US will not bring any benefits and it is through resistance against oppression that we will succeed,” he said.
Rouhani had called the US the “chieftain” of the world. “I think it is easier to talk with the US than with the Europeans. Many Europeans need permission from the boss while Americans are the chieftains. So it is easier to make a deal with the chieftain than someone below him.”
Contrary to Rouhani who believes agreement through talks can remove the “unjust sanctions” against Iran and consequently improve the conditions of Iranians, many IRGC commanders believe that talks with the US will not produce any results. Khamenei himself had said after the November 24th, 2014 extension of the talks that it was the US and not Iran that would be the loser if the extension did not produce results. He had also said that the nuclear issue was merely a pretext and that the main problem was that the “enemies” did not want the Iranian nation to grow and become strong, and concluded that “the sky would not fall if an agreement was not reached.”
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