In a dramatic intervention on Wednesday, the Supreme Leader appeared to undermine Iran’s nuclear talks with the US and other powers, even as he nominally supported the Rouhani Government’s pursuit of the negotiations.
Addressing Iranian ambassadors in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “We don’t proscribe continuing the nuclear talks and the job Dr (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad) Zarif and his friends have started and pursued properly until now should continue.”
But he then unleashed a barrage of condemnation of discussions with the Americans:
This was a valuable experience to learn that talks with US have absolutely no effect on reducing their hostility and are useless….
Relations with the US and negotiating with that country, except in specific cases, will have no benefit to the Islamic Republic, but rather will be harmful….Interaction and talks with Americans have absolutely no impact on reducing their hostility and are useless.
The less pessimistic reading of Khamenei’s comments is that he was still backing the nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China), due to resume this autumn after the failure to secure a comprehensive deal in July; however, he is precluding discussions with the US on other issues such as the Iraq crisis.
That interpretation has been bolstered in recent days by harsh rhetoric from leading Iranian figures, including Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, over US military intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan. The language maintains — and raises — the barrier for the Rouhani Government, which had proposed cooperation with the US soon after the insurgent offensive took key Iraqi cities in June.
However, the claim of no effect on the nuclear discussions ignores both the Supreme Leader’s proclamation that talks were “useless” and the context in which his remarks will be received. Only a week after high-level Iranian negotiators met American counterparts in Geneva, Khamenei was complaining, “Over the last year, it was decided that the officials hold talks with US on nuclear issues, but this relationship didn’t work and they increased sanctions.”
Only 48 hours earlier, President Rouhani publicly told critics of the nuclear approach to “go to hell and find a warm place for yourself”.
Now those critics will be able to invoke the Supreme Leader’s words to tell the President where he and the negotiations should go
Regime Continues Attacks on US Intervention in Iraq
The Iranian regime is continuing its attacks on American intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan, betraying its concern by claiming that the US — which is attacking the jihadist Islamic State — is really a supporter of the group.
Head of judiciary Sadegh Amoli Larijani called the Islamic State “the creature of hegemonic countries” and described the US airstrikes on the jihadists as “questionable”:
How can one believe that the US is opposed to the ISIL (Islamic State) Takfiri group? If Americans are really at odds with ISIL, then why didn’t they go into action from the outset of its emergence? Why didn’t they attack ISIL in the whole region, particularly in Syria?
MP Javad Karimi Qoddousi claimed that the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Admiral Ali Shamkhani put out a similar message in a meeting with legislators yesterday: “The SNSC secretary said that the US, the regional reactionaries, and some other states are supporting the ISIL terrorist group and they seek to create instability in the region and therefore we are witnessing unrests in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt.”
Rouhani Defends Science Minister From Hardline Attacks
Warming up for his next Parliamentary battle with hardlines, President Rouhani has defended Science Minister Reza Faraji Dana, who faces calls for his impeachment.
Rouhani said, “Dr. Faraji Dana is a competent, knowledgeable, educated, managerial, resourceful and an ethical person. I have seen first-hand his moral character.”
The Science Minister is being attacked for his reinstatement of professors who were dismissed and students who were expelled amid the political battles following the disputed 2009 Presidential election.
Rafsanjani Challengers Hardliners Over His Disqualification in 2013 Presidential Election
In the latest round of his battle with hardliners, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has lashed out at how they blocked his candidacy in the 2013 Presidential election.
Rafsanjani was disqualified by the Guardian Council, who instead allowed his protégé Hassan Rouhani to stand — and thus win an unexpected victory last June.
Speaking to young political activists, Rafsanjani said:
When I announced that I wouldn’t be a candidate you saw how it worked up the hardliners.
When I said that “they won’t allow me to be a candidate”, I had already become one and you know what happened next….The hardliners’ true political intentions were revealed.
Rafsanjani is fighting both a personal battle with the hardliners and one of behalf of the Rouhani Government. His critics are hoping to block any attempt next month by the former President to reclaim the chair of the Assembly of Experts, a post he held from 2007 to 2011.
Meanwhile, ISNA reported that the third court session of Rafsanjani’s son Mehdi Hashemi, accused of financial crimes and electoral manipulation, will be held next Monday.