PHOTO: Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani

LATEST: FM Zarif Gives Cautious Response to Supreme Leader’s Condemnation of “Useless” Talks with US

On Tuesday, international media noted that Iran had withdrawn its support of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, supporting his replacement by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Haidar al-Abadi.

What has gone unnoticed may be just as significant. Part of the reason for Tehran’s shift is its fear of US military intervention, particularly in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Soon after the insurgent offensive in June that took key Iraqi cities and moved on Baghdad, President Rouhani and his officials had proposed cooperation with the US to check the advance. However, that idea was rebuffed — loudly — by key political and military figures, probably with the support of the Supreme Leader.

Instead, Iranian propaganda tried to portray the US as the cause of the crisis, going so far as to say Washington had created the jihadist Islamic State that spearheaded the Iraqi insurgency.

That line has become difficult to hold, as the US has launched airstrikes against the Islamic State after its latest successes in northwestern Iraq. While Tehran has also been consulting with Iraqi Kurdish leaders, it has had to watch while Washington makes the overt intervention to support Kurdistan, pushing the jihadists back from the Erbil.

So on Sunday, as Tehran switched support from Maliki to Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani told MPs that the US intervention against the Islamic State was not to help the Kurds but to divert attention from Israel’s attacks on Gaza:

The US wants to wash off blood from its hands which have been stained in the inhumane catastrophes that it has caused in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran by sending a number of fighter jets to bring aid or target the terrorists, but it is just a dream which will never come true.

The Chairman of Parliament’s National Security Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, added to the statement on Monday: “Such intervention will certainly bring no benefit to Iraq and the region.”

And on Tuesday Larijani fired another volley:

Obama has become concerned about the Kurds while many Christians, Sunni Muslims, Druze and Alawites were killed in Syria, but they (US officials) remained silent….

Now, all of a sudden they have become conscious. This shows that they (US officials) have adopted a double standard and tactical approach toward this issue and this is wrong.

Meanwhile, Iranian State media is keen to promote Kurdish thanks to Iran — not the US — for military backing. Press TV quotes Kurdish peshmerga spokesman Halgurd Hekmat:

The Iranian government has definitely backed the Kurdish troops and has showed willingness to provide more support. It is for this reason that the Kurdish president has sent a letter of thanks to the Iranian government.

FM Zarif Gives Cautious Response to Supreme Leader’s Condemnation of “Useless” Talks with US

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was in the audience as the Supreme Leader condemned “useless” nuclear talks with the US, gave a cautious response to the assembled ambassadors after Khamenei’s speech:

Supreme Leader Backs Government’s Nuclear Talks with US, But Says They Are “Useless”

The Supreme Leader has given a far-from-enthusiatic endorsement of the Rouhani Government’s pursuit of nuclear talks, including discussions with the US:

Ayatollah Khamenei complained, despite the release of about $5 billion in Iranian assets under an interim nuclear agreement: “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 (the Americans) increased sanctions.”

He said that meetings with the 5+1 Powers and bilateral discussions with the US had proved they “will not help anything, contrary to what some had assumed.”

Khamenei concluded, “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 Supreme Leader also confirmed Iranian support for the nomination of Haidar al-Abadi as the new Iraqi Prime Minister, replacing Nuri al-Maliki:

Oil Minister: Ahmadinejad Government Lost Billions in Corruption & Abuse of Power

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, in a scathing attack on the Ahmadinejad Government of 2005-2013, has accused it of losing billions through corruption and abuse of power.

Zanganeh claimed that billionaire tycoon Babak Zanjani, now detained on embezzlement charges, received $2.7 billion through a “fake bank” with the collaboration of Ministers and the head of the Central Bank. He added that the money is now untraceable and “all gone”.

Oil Minister: We Have No “Oil-For-Goods” Deal With Russia

Iranian negotiations with Russia for an oil-for-goods deal appear to have collapsed in confusion and embarrassment.

Earlier this month Russian outlets reported the completion of the deal, under which Iran would deliver up to 500,000 barrels per day of oil in return for Moscow’s construction of power plants and electrical grids, machinery, consumer goods, and agriculture products.

However, within a few hours, the Russian Foreign Ministry had withdrawn the announcement, saying only that a general Memorandum of Understanding had been agreed.

On Monday night in a TV interview, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said flatly,”We do not have any oil barter trade deal between Iran and Russia.”

Zanganeh went farther by belittling the Memorandum of Understanding, “The Russian energy minister and I have not signed that MoU in our capacities as oil ministers, rather we have endorsed it as the heads of the two countries’ joint cooperation commissions as economic issues other than oil and gas are included in it.”

It is unclear why Iran is stepping back from the arrangement, as its oil exports are still only just above 50% of the level of 2012.

Just before Zanganeh’s interview, the Iranian Students News Agency turned on the Oil Minister and his “ambiguous memorandum of understanding…signed in silence in Moscow”. Asking “Where is Zanganeh?”, it challenged the Minister and his deputies to clarify the situation around the deal.