Reading Obama: Has Syria Agreement Opened Up US-Iran Discussions?

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SUMMARY: Leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli, in the latest warning on Iran’s economic situation, has told an Iranian website linked to the Basij militia that the “economy is like a crash victim in intensive care. We must stop the intense bleeding.”

Tavakoli said that Iran’s oil and gas revenue could not the huge gap in the Government budget and that the National Development Fund was effectively “empty”.

Former President Mohammad Khatami also spoke of the difficulties in a speech on Friday, saying there is not much time to remedy the “great harm” that Iran has suffered in the past eight years.

Khatami continued, “If we cannot remedy at least some of the major problems in the economy, international relations, and internal issues, we may suffer greater harm.”

Since taking office six weeks ago, the Rouhani Government has spoken often of a serious economic situation inherited from eight years of the Ahmadinejad administration. President Rouhani has spoken of inflation at more than 40%, and his closest advisors have said the Ahmadinejad budget, adopted this spring, is not tenable because of a massive deficit.

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Reading Obama: Has Syria Agreement Opened Up US-Iran Discussions?

An interesting extract from Sunday morning’s interview with President Obama on US ABC News — note Obama’s confirmation of the claim, originally made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that the President and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani have exchanged letters.

Will the US-Russia framework agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons open the way to Tehran joining top-table discussions about the Syrian conflict? And what does it means for talks between Tehran with Washington and its allies on the Iranian nuclear program?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you think Iran makes of all this? You mentioned Iran. Do you think they can look at all this and say, “Maybe all options aren’t on the table, you’re not willing to use force?”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No, I think– I think the Iranians, who we communicate with– in– indirect ways–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Have you reached out personally to the new President?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have. And– and he’s reached out to me. We haven’t spoken –– directly. But —


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah. And– I think what the Iranians understand is that– the nuclear issue — is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue, that– the threat against Iran– against Israel, that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests. That– a nuclear arms race in the region– is something that would be profoundly destabilizing.

And so I — my suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they– they shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck– to think we won’t strike Iran. On the other hand, what is– what– they should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically. And —

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:You think they’re there? You think they believe that?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think they recognize, in part, because of the– the extraordinary sanctions that we placed on them, that the world community is united when it comes to wanting to prevent a nuclear arms race in the region. And– you know, negotiations with the Iranians is always difficult. I– I think this new president is not gonna suddenly make it easy. But– you know, my view is that if you have– both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact– you can– you can strike a deal.

Tehran Friday Prayer: People “Fed Up With Economic Situation”

Iran’s economic problems made it into Tehran Friday Prayers this week: Hojatoleslam Movahedi Kermani said that people are fed up with the economic situation and that there must be a solution to the problem of unemployment.

Larijani Welcomes US-Russia Agreement on Syria

Speaking at a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart on Saturday, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has welcomed the US-Russia framework agreement to take control of Syria’s chemical weapons, “Perhaps the situation brought about in recent days is a sign of rational decision making regarding regional issues.”

Supreme Leader Gives Twitter Sermon On Books, Reading

The Supreme Leader — or someone in his office — has used Khamenei’s Twitter account to give advice and recommendations on books and reading, complaining that not enough people bother to take the time to read these days.

See Iran Feature: Supreme Leader Gives A Twitter Sermon on Books & Reading

Jalili And Ahmadinejad At The Expediency Council Meeting

In case anyone has been missing former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or was wondering what he is up to now he is no longer President, former Principlist candidate and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili offers us a glimpse with this photograph of himself and Ahmadinejad “on the sidelines of the Expediency Council meeting”:

Jalili is now the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Expediency Council.

Aref Tweets On Science And Technology

Mohammad Reza Aref, who stood as a Reformist candidate in the June election before stepping aside in favor of Hassan Rouhani, has put out a series of tweets discussing Iran’s progress in science and technology.

Aref said that under Rouhani, Iran will surely strengthen itself in the field of nanotechnology.

To create a “knowledge-based economy”, Aref said that Iran needed to reinforce its universities and knowledge-based technology, and a system of knowledge and innovation.

Jalili, Aref Tweet Photos With Qods Force Commander

Both Mohammad Reza Aref, who stood as a Reformist candidate in the June election before stepping aside in favor of Hassan Rouhani, and former Principlist candidate Saeed Jalili, have tweeted photograph of themselves at the funeral of the mother of Qods Force Commander Ghassem Soleimani.

Charitable Foundation Accused of $5 Million Fraud

Another large fraud has been claimed by authorities, with the Mahab Qods Company — part of the Astan Qods Razavi “charitable” foundation — accused of a 12.6 billion Toman ($5 million) embezzlement over a railroad project