Rouhani responds amid pressure including arrest of his brother
Under growing pressure from Iran’s hardliners, President Hassan Rouhani refused to back down on Saturday, challenging new restrictions on his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami.
Hardliners stepped up their long-running battle with Rouhani over political and social space last week with the arrest of the brother of 1st Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri last week, following the detention of Rouhani’s brother and former senior advisor Hossein Fereydoun — now out on $15 million bail awaiting trial — in July.
Meanwhile, the Special Clerical Court tightened restrictions on the reformist Khatami, who led the government from 1997 to 2005, barring him from all public events for three months and prohibiting any meetings with Government officials and student union members.
Iranian media are already banned from showing images or printing quotes from Khatami, amid regime fears of the renewal of mass protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election and the strict house arrests of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard in February 2011.
Rouhani said on Saturday that the restrictions are punishment for Khatami’s activity in the May Presidential election, when the former president urged people to poll. Rouhani won a large victory over the conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who was backed by the Revolutionary Guards and the Supreme Leader’s office, in the ballot.
“10 Trumps” Cannot Reverse Nuclear Deal
Speaking at a ceremony at Tehran University, Rouhani responded to threats by Donald Trump to “decertify” Iranian compliance with the July 2015 nuclear deal.
The Iranian President ruled out any renegotiation of the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:
In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we achieved points and benefits that are not reversible. No one can reverse it, not Mr. Trump nor anyone else.
Even if ten other Trumps are created in the world, these are not reversible.
Rouhani noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran’s adherence to the pact with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia). He hailed the Islamic Republic’s “diplomatic” and “moral victory”: “Iranian diplomats are so capable and powerful that they could reach a deal with six world powers, a deal that the other side says we have been cheated by it.”
Trump is expected to say in a speech on Thursday that he will renew certification. However, Administration officials say that the US will not withdraw from the agreement and that the President will not even command Congress to reimpose sweeping sanctions on Tehran — signs that Trump’s senior advisors have restrained him from his wish to scrap the deal.
Revolutionary Guards Commander: “We Will Treat US Troops Like ISIS” If Sanctions Enforced
The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, has said Iran will treat US troops “like Daesh terrorists” if Washington enforces sanctions against the Guards.
“As we have announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is enforced, this country [the US] will have to move its regional bases outside the 2,000 km radius of the Iranian missiles’ range,” Jafari said.
On August 2, Trump signed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which included punishment of the IRGC among new restrictions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea.
Jafari said Iran “deems the implementation of CAATSA equal to America’s unilateral withdrawal” from the July 2015 nuclear deal, even though Trump is still refraining from a US departure.
“We will use the opportunity of the stupid behavior of the Trump government to achieve a leap in defense, missile and regional programs,” Jafari continued. “If the scattered news about the stupidity of the US government regarding the IRGC as a terrorist group is correct, the Guards will also consider the American military all over the world, especially the Middle East, as equal to Daesh.”