Last week witnessed more comments in support of the response that the top Revolutionary Guards commander, Mohammad Ali Jaafari, provided to foreign minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif’s recent remarks when he said, “I proclaim that the Islamic republic is today more secure after the nuclear talks.” The remarks brought a volley of reactions but the first to lead the very next day was Jaafari who said, “The security of the Islamic regime was not the accomplishment of the year-long talks.” A number of former Guards members who are now members of Iran’s parliament jumped on the bandwagon to support the IRGC’s view, some of them concluding that the nuclear talks that have been held between Iran and the major world powers commonly known as the P5+1 have been without benefit.
Former Guards member Javad Karimi Ghodoosi who now sits on the Majlis national security and foreign policy committee, for example, was blunt when said, “The security of Iran today is the result of the 35-year resistance of the nation which includes the imposed war, sanctions …. and it has not been the talks that have provided this security to Iran.” He played down the nuclear talks by saying, “After the passage of a year Iran’s talks with the P5+1 have not accomplished anything because of American undermining actions and we are witness to their disruptive behavior and those of their associates, including their non-commitment to their pledges.”
Ghodoosi went further and had some critical words for Zarif as well. “The foreign minister has never produced a clear report on the accomplishments of the talks whether at committee meetings, at the full Majlis or to the public and has restricted himself to speeches and propaganda about the talks,” he said.
Another member of the same Majlis committee who comes from the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ismail Kowsari, a former commander of the Sarollah base, echoed Ghodoosi’s words. “Our stability and security today is the product of the sacrifices made by the martyrs of the revolution, the holy defense (the 8-year war with Iraq) and then the development of various range missiles, all of these under the leadership of the supreme leader.” Diplomacy and talks have their own place. Talks through national power and the support of the nation can be productive. In fact, it was the support of the leader and the public that enabled the negotiations team to present a solid presence.” He concluded, “We have always stressed that the negotiation team in the P5+1 talks should take the lead from the brave resistance of our martyrs during the eight year holly defense.”
Another former Guards commander Mansoor Haghighatpour also commented on the issue and said, “It is not true that the nuclear talks with the P5+1 states have made the country safer. I do not accept Mr. Zarif’s remarks because the security of the country has always been strong and officials have not acted weakly in this regard.” He continued, “Mr. Zarif should explain in more detail what he meant with his remarks. Today, we must use new concepts for security and exchange views about them. If insecurity until yesterday was based on military behavior, today the enemy is threatening our mind, identity and culture. I hope that the foreign minister will pay sufficient attention to these.”
Fars news agency, which is close to the right in the political spectrum of the country, spoke with a number of hardliners from the steadfast front in parliament – who are well known critics of the administration – all of whom reproved of Zarif and offered advice on his remarks.
For example, Mohammad Soleymani, the minister of communications in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration and a member of the steadfast front in the Majlis had some strong words when he said, “What results have the nuclear talks produced till now that have made the country more secure? Extending the talks is not a big result. The talks had been extended before as well. The talks have not even had an impact on the economy of the country, let alone its security.” He then said, “These words of Mr. Zarif are unfounded claims and constitute a major mistake of the administration.”
Last week, speaking at a seminar on nuclear diplomacy at Tabatabai University in Tehran, foreign minister Zarif had said that Iran was more secure because of the nuclear talks and added, “Nobody can beat the drum of war against our people and all the inimical atmosphere against Iran have ended. The world understands that understandings can be reached through logic, respect, talks and mutual interests.” Zarif named Israel and said it along with some neighbors tried hard to make sure the nuclear talks failed. His talk clearly did not give the Revolutionary Guards any credit or role in the current security picture of the country.
Another Guards commander, Attaollah Salehi was as blunt as the others over Zarif’s remarks. “I am surprised that diplomacy and negotiations are given the credit for our work. Our job is preparedness and we are adding to that by the day.”
Last Thursday, another general Hossein Salamati who is the deputy for the top Guard commander also had some comments without naming Zarif by name. “Our defensive power has provided our diplomacy the best potential and foundation.”
Zarif has not publicly responded to the censures but one of his advisors, seyed Mohammad Hosseini, told reporters, “The statements by the foreign minister in explaining the work of the negotiations team are in line with the direction identified by the supreme leader and the president in breaking the threatening atmosphere and ultimately strengthening the security of the country. His remarks do not negate the extraordinary progress made by the military, defense, intelligence and security agencies of the country, which are a source of pride not just of the people but all Muslims and deprived people of the world.” He then quoted Jaafari’s remarks about the leadership of the super leader and said, “The security of the country is indebted to the thoughtfulness of the supreme leader (whom he called “imam Khamenei”) and ayatollah Khomeini.” These words had their intended effect and the response came through an article in the official newspaper of the political office of the IRGC which welcomed the remarks by Zarif’s advisor.
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