On Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei reviewed the election, domestic affairs, and the nuclear talks in a meeting with judiciary officials.
Reuters and Fars News offer a vivid example of how to get completely different messages out of the same speech.
For Reuters, “Iran’s Khamenei Says Nuclear Talks Easy If Enemy Not Stubborn“:
“Some countries have organised a united front against Iran and are misguiding the international community and with stubbornness do not want to see the nuclear issue resolved.
But if they put aside their stubbornness, resolving the nuclear issue would be simple.”
In contrast, Fars does not see “easy” resumption of nuclear discussions, “Leader: Enemies Seeking to Prevent Iran’s Progress“:
They seek to block the nation’s progress and dominate our dear Iran again.
The Islamic Republic is standing mightily, independently and by relying on people and trust in God and defends Iran’s interests. Experience has also shown that anyone who resists in the right way is victorious.
By the end of its article, Reuters comes around to this less-cheerful outlook with another selection from Ayatollah Khamenei: “Of course the enemies say in their words and letters than they do not want to change the regime, but their approaches are contrary to these words.”
So what is the real story here?
Perhaps it is that, while divided in their presentations, both Fars and Reuters are united in missing the main point of the Supreme Leader’s appearaance. This was not a speech aimed foremost at the nuclear talks, or relations with the US, but at asserting Khamenei’s authori9ty after the difficulties for the regime of the Presidential election.
The Supreme Leader, backed up by the messages from his office via social media, downplayed Hassan Rouhani’s unexpected victory — fostered part by the regime’s failure to put forth a “unity” candidate and its bungled attempt to block unacceptable candidates like former President Hashemi Rafsanjani — and played up the “epic” of voter turnout: “This shows that even people who do not support the system, trust it and its elections because they know that a robust Islamic Republic stands up like a lion and defends the national interests and dignity well.”
Yet in that attempt to turn the election into a vindication of the “Republic” and his authority, Khameeni left behind a telling admission, summarised by his office on Twitter:
— khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) June 26, 2013
So does that mean that the 52.47% who voted for Rouhani did so because they “don’t support the System”? And if they don’t support the System, how can the Supreme Leader be sure that they still support him?