President Rouhani: “God willing, we will strongly continue on our path.”
Facing the pressure of US sanctions, Iran’s leaders have proclaimed military strength that will ensure the political and economic challenge will be met.
At a meeting with the heads of the legislative and judicial branches on Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani said that “no one can harm” the Revolutionary Guards, other armed forces, and Basij paramilitary: “God willing, we will strongly continue on our path.”
The regime has shown increasing concern over the past month as the US Congress moved to adopt additional sanctions despite the July 2015 nuclear agreement. While certifying that Iran is adhering to the deal, the Trump Administration supports the imposition of restrictions because of Iran’s ballistic missile tests, alleged support of “terrorism”, and human rights record.
Rouhani and other officials, including Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and the Foreign Ministry, have said that Tehran will carry out an “appropriate” response. The Majlis is proceeding to passing of a symbolic motion promising retaliation against the American measures.
The Rouhani Government is hoping to split European powers from the American position. However, its hopes for Iranian recovery after the nuclear deal have been dented, with foreign trade and investment hindered over fear of US punishment.
Rouhani alluded to the issue on Sunday, saying national production and investment were discussed with Speaker of Parliament Larijani and head of judiciary Sadegh Amoli Larijani. He added that creation of job opportunities and economic prosperity are “very important” for Iran.
The President asserted that if Iran manages to boost economic cooperation with other countries, US officials will not be able to use sanctions as a weapon.
Meanwhile, the immediate effect has been a closing of ranks around the Iranian military, with officials asserting that ballistic missile testing and maneuvers will continue.
Rouhani and the Revolutionary Guards have been in an escalating dispute since the President’s re-election on May 19, with public debate over the Guards’ extensive role in the Iranian economy. However, last week there was a show of reconciliation as the President met Guards commanders.
Ex-President Ahmadinejad Threatened with Prison Sentence
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President from 2005 to 2013, has been threatened with a prison sentence for mismanagement of public funds.
The public prosecutor of the Supreme Audit Court said Ahmadinejad faces detention on seven verdicts of misusing more than $2 billion in government funds during his second term from 2009 and 2013.
Fayaz Shojaie said the verdicts have been announced to Parliament, which oversees the court.
Ahmadinejad has long faced allegations of diversion of oil revenues, including from the National Development Fund. In his interview with the Etemaad newspaper, Shojaie cited the case of Ahmadinejad’s friend and tycoon Babak Zanjani, who is facing the death penalty after his conviction of taking about $2 billion in State funds.
Shojaie said Ahmadinejad “in no way has the assets that would cover” the amount claimed to have been misappropriated. He did not say what would happen if the money could not be recovered from the former President.
The sentence follows months of friction amid a possible return to politics by Ahmadinejad. The Supreme Leader warned him not to run in May’s Presidential election, and his protégé and former Vice President Hamid Baghaei was blocked by the Guardian Council from standing.
On July 9, Baghaei was detained on accusations of corruption. After his release 17 days later, following a demand for $13 million bail, he lashed out at the judiciary:
Go and see what’s happening in our prisons.
There was one person in my cell. He was in there for 13 months without even being questioned. They didn’t even call his family. He has one child and was an airline employee.
Baghaei called judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Ejei a “liar”, while Ahmadinejad described the detention as “illegal” and a “great cruelty”.