Iran Round-Up, Oct 12: Support, But Also Some Warnings, For Rouhani & Engagement with US


LATEST: Kurdish Insurgents Kill 5 Revolutionary Guards


Analysis: How Revolutionary Guards Propaganda Tries To Derail Rouhani’s Foreign Policy

SUMMARY: The Tehran Friday Prayer restated support for Hassan Rouhani’s engagement of the West, with Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami calling for unity behind the Supreme Leader and the President: “Internal strength is the most powerful weapon against the enemy.”

Elsewhere, however, there were reasons for Rouhani to be wary.

Statements from politicians and clerics continued to call for any talks to be from a position of strength — “We must not behave in a way that the Americans feel we seriously need negotiations with them,” said one hard-liner — with declarations such as “Iran will never allow its economic resources to be seized by America or allow America to impose poor influences on its culture and civilization.”

Ayatollah Khatami decorated the assertions with a specific reference to the debate over whether to stop the long-running audience response, “Death to America”:

The ‘Death to America’ chant does not mean death to people who are philosophically opposed to velayat-e faqih [the Iranian system of clerical leadership]….The chant means death to saboteurs, meaning death to the people who attempt to collapse the Islamic system.

However, the most interesting warning came from Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior official in the judiciary and brother of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, in contrast to the support given to Rouhani by his brother, appeared to lash out at the President’s historic phone call with Barack Obama during his trip to the United Nations last month:

Negotiation and establishing relations [between] Obama and Rouhani was a plan that the Zionist regime carried out and Israel sought to show with this move that our President is not supported inside the country and [that] his statements at the United Nations were completely personal.

(Hat tip to Iran Tracker for quotes)

Kurdish Insurgents Kill 5 Revolutionary Guards

The Kurdish insurgency PJAK has killed five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The IRGC said the five Kurdish troops were slain and two wounded during “a clash with counter-Revolutionary agents” on Thursday near the city of Baneh in the province of Kurdistan.

IRGC officials at Friday’s funerals said “the counter-Revolutionary agents will receive a harsh penalty and a strong and decisive response…in the shortest amount of time”.

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    Last 2 paragraphs:
    So while much of the world will be watching what Tehran puts on the table next week in Geneva, I will be watching carefully to see how Washington and its international partners respond. U.S. officials have made clear that the sanctions with the greatest impact, including the measures targeting Iran’s Central Bank and its oil exports and investments, will remain in place until a durable, comprehensive deal. And even if the Obama Administration was inclined to be a generous, it faces a Congress that is manifestly disinterested in pragmatic stewardship of American national interests and where Iran sanctions face no meaningful opposition. For their part, the Iranians have been equally clear that they want to see sanctions relief in precisely the same areas where Washington is unwilling to move. And while Iranian leaders appear more eager for a deal, they may not be quite so desperate as the conventional wisdom now presumes.

    In 2012, an initially promising round of talks sputtered after American negotiators profferred permission for Tehran to purchase U.S. spare parts for Iranian aircraft as an incentive for Iran’s willingness to end its higher-level enrichment activities, a laughably cheap bid. This time around, the prospects are far better and the stakes are far higher. The key to success lies in the ability and the willingness of Washington and the international community to invest at least as much ingenuity in developing a menu of prospective sanctions relief as the Treasury Department and other institutions have devoted to identifying new means of exerting economic pressure on Iran.

    • Catmari,

      I like Maloney’s work very much and I agree with her line here — I do wonder why she hasn’t considered the option of EU lifting its July 2012 sanctions, which are arguably as damaging to Tehran as the US measures.


      • Scott, EU diplomats close out to lift sanctions before Iran does not at least offering a halt to uranium enrichment.

        According to diplomatic sources the “diplomatic renaissance” is mainly due to Ashton’s use. She telephoned four times in recent months with his Iranian counterpart Jawad Sharif.

        It was the idea of Catherin Ashton to bring Sharif together with the Foreign Ministers of the 5 + 1 members. The often fractious group accepted Ashton as a chief – negotiator because whoever is currently talking about her is praising her tough negotiating skills, their endurance, their diplomatic talent.

        Substantial concessions has so far not yet made ​​by the new Iranian government.

        Even if there are different views between Europe and the United States concerning the sanctions – no one will be stupid enough to talk about it so as not to jeopardize the success of negotiations.

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  3. Rouhani Cabinet Sends Mixed Messages About Facebook and Twitter
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  4. Iran Official Slams Ahmadinejad-Era Censorship
    Golnaz Esfandiari, RFERL

    Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati has said that book censorship was too strict under the country’s former government.

    In comments quoted by Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency on October 8, Jannati said censors would have rejected the Koran, which Muslims believe is a revelation by God.

    “If the Koran hadn’t been sent by God and we had handed it to book censors, they wouldn’t have issued permission to publish it and would have argued that some of the words in it are against public virtue,” he said


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