Tehran, 29 Feb. (IPS) As rumours about the health conditions of the megalomaniac Iranian Leader amplifies in closed circuits, one of the most influential and educated clerics for the first time criticised his policies and leadership.
“Foreign policy is not giving slogans, it is not stubbornness, it is the art of dialogue and flexibility, it is not the art of making enemies, but friends”, Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rohani, one of Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i’s personal representatives at the Supreme Council on National Security (SCNS) said on Wednesday, in a speech that Iran watchers saw it as a crude criticism of the Leader, who decides on every major foreign and domestic issues, including the controversial nuclear question.
Foreign policy is not giving slogans, it is not stubbornness, it is the art of dialogue and flexibility, it is not the art of making enemies, but friends”.
Speaking at a conference on the “20 Years Perspectives and a Progressive Foreign Policy”, the former Secretary of the SCNS pointed out at the ambiguities of the Iranian political “jargon”, saying “we still have not reached an agreement on many problems, on how to conduct our foreign policy, on how to deal with our interlocutors, on how to present our policies to the world opinion”.
In the political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is the Leader, not the President, who decides on important questions, observers pointed out.
What surprised many observers was that Mr. Rohani was speaking just one day after Mr. Khameneh’i had confirmed the nuclear line of the Government and praised the “distinct role of the President” in conducting the nuclear standoff with the international community.
Mr. Khameneh’i’s warm praising of Mr. Ahmadinejad, but also the conservatives-controlled Majles (Iranian Parliament) took place during a meeting with the members of the Experts Assembly, the only official organ of the Iranian political system which has the power to dismiss the Leader – but is controlled by him -- and is presided over by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered as a strong rival to both Mr. Khameneh’i and Ahmadinejad.
“Alongside of the heroic resistance of the people and the courageous reaction of the Government, particularly the distinct role of the President, the seventh Majles, contrary to the previous one, really persisted and resisted in the nuclear question”, the Leader observed.
The megalomaniac Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i do not stand any criticism against himself.
According to many political analysts, this was one of the rare times that Mr. Khameneh’i was congratulating one faction and humiliating the other.
“Though Khameneh’i is known to be closer to the conservatives, but usually he do not openly take side in the battle between the conservatives and the reformists. This was the first time that he openly expressed his anger at the sixth Majles, which, at some occasions, tried to challenge his authority, and via the sixth Majles, which was dominated by the reformists, he also lashed out at the moderates, led by Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and former president Mohammad Khatami”, one Paris-based analyst explained.
Iranian officials congratulated each other, and all of them the Leader, following the report presented early this week by Mr. Mohammad ElBaradei to both the Security Council of the United Nations and the Board of directors of the IAEA, expressing satisfaction at the degree of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA inspectors and providing clear answers to some pending questions about the Iranian nuclear programmes, hailing it as a “great victory” for Iran over America and some of its allies that want the ayatollah suspend their atomic activities, particularly enriching uranium.
But Mr. Ahmadinejad and his colleagues deliberately ignored two important points of the report that are negative for Iran and says it “can not say for sure that Iran is not after nuclear weapons” and that Tehran “continues to enrich uranium despite the demand by the international community to suspend it”.
“As we were talking with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), they (the ruling conservatives) said in their media that we are selling secret information to the enemy. Another day, they said we shall not allow (IAEA Boss) ElBaradei in the country, to changer their mid, writing another day that whatever he says is good and right. One day they said we should not talk to the foreigners because they are spies and inflidels, they are traitors, and then they changed their minds, said the spies are nice people. How can we explain such contradictions?” Mr. Rohani, the former top coordinator of the nuclear negotiations asked.
Mr. Ahmadinejad and his colleagues deliberately ignored two important points of the ElBaradei report that were negatives for Iran.
Mr. Rohani criticised the harsh and coarse language of the President and his insistence that the Islamic Republic is a model for the whole world, particularly the Islamic nations, saying: “We can not say we want progress and development and at the same time insist that we don’t care about the world….a world that more and more in interconnected, a world in which we need a good policy, not coarse words”.
According to many Iran watchers, although “on the surface” Mr. Rohani’s remarks look being addressed at the President, but in fact he is directly challenging the Leader, who alone takes all important decisions and dictates them to the president for implementation.
“We want to be a good model for the world of Islam, to be source of inspiration for Muslim nations, which are looking at us. But are Malaysia, Indonesia or Arab countries really taking prescriptions from Iran? In our foreign policy, do we want to be ambiguous, or clear, do we want the region and the world to be afraid of us or to be our friends, do we want to become everyday more fearful or more attractive?”, the outspoken cleric, who is a close friend of Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani concluded.
During his meeting with the Assembly of Experts, an event taking place one day after a “historic” invitation extended by Mr. Ahmadinejad to his arch’ rival Hashemi Rafsanjani and aimed at a “national reconciliation” weeks before the forthcoming Legislative elections, Mr. Khameneh’i also brushed off division of the Iranian officials in “moderates” and “hard liners”, attributing such division of the Iranian political elite to “enemy’s propaganda”.
“We can not erect walls around us and attribute all our problems to enemies. We need a flexible foreign policy, not one that increases pressures on us. While we have not reached a consensus on some basic questions, while we still do not know which line to adopt in our policy, how do we want to reach the world around us”, he concluded, in a clear reference to Mr. Khameneh’i’s persistence of “no dialogue with the “Great American Satan”. ENDS ROHANI CHALLENGING 29208