For Iran´s spiritual leader, dialogue with the U.S. is no longer taboo (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Zvi Bar´el 05/23/12)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
An extraordinary report was published on Saturday in the conservative
Iranian website Botia. According to the report, the chief of the
Revolutionary Guards´ Quds Force, General Qasem Suleimani, warned
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah not to attack Israel.
The website reported that during a meeting between the two, Suleimani
explained to Nasrallah that "Israel is an isolated country, and any
attack on it can portray it as the victim and us as the aggressors."
Suleimani even demanded that Nasrallah explain to his followers that
the road to Jerusalem does not involve arms, but preaching.
Within a few hours the report was removed from the website, and a
denial was published.
Iran has not changed its official policy of supporting armed
resistance against Israel. Yet aside for public statements by senior
army and Revolutionary Guards officials – saying Iran is ready for
any act of aggression and is planning military drills – the Islamic
Republic´s tone ahead of the Baghdad summit is conciliatory and
"If the [major powers] arrive with good intentions and not try to
impose their illegal opinions on Iran, there is hope for the summit,"
said Ali Akbar Velayati, international adviser to Iranian Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Velayati, former foreign minister, was
also the one to declare - after Israel withdrew from Lebanon exactly
12 years ago - that Hezbollah´s military role has come to an end.
Iran has also clarified that the person in charge of the dialoge with
the West is Khamenei – not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or his
envoys. Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Secretary General of
the National Security Council, is dubbed in the local media as "the
Supreme Leader´s representative." This definition has an important
political significance, because Jalili – who was Khamenei bureau
chief – was appointed to his current post by Ahmadinejad. His
predecessor, current Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, quit his post
over differences with Ahmadinejad – including the nuclear issue.
Jalili´s title as Khamenei´s envoy underscores the Supreme Leader´s
decision to push Ahmadinejad to the sidelines on the nuclear issue.
The heavy coverage Jalili receives in the Iranian media – some of
which portrays him almost as the head of state – further illustrates
Jalili, who met with UN nuclear watchdog Yukiya Amano on Monday, said
that "the International Atomic Agency must protect the rights of its
members" – meaning Iran´s right to develop nuclear technology for
peaceful means. He repeated Khamenei´s religious decree, according to
which producing or using weapons of mass destruction is forbidden.
This new tone joins other conciliatory messages ahead of last month´s
summit in April.
A similar tone was heard from Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of
the country´s Expediency Discernment Council, who called for dialogue
with the U.S. (the same forum in which he spoke was also attended by
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.) No denial or denunciation of
Rafsanjani´s call was issued from the Supreme Leader´s bureau.
Speaking with the U.S., it seems, is no longer taboo.
Iran´s internal politics will now play a major role if the Islamic
Republic truly wants to reach a deal. Any agreement will have to be
marketed as a success and a victory. If Iran agrees not to enrich
uranium beyond 20 percent, or remove it from its soil, one of the
leaders will have to explain to the religious and political elites
why the stance had shifted.
Khamenei´s political power and religious status make him the best
candidate to market a deal – which in all scenarios will include
Iranian concessions. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, has a reputation
of disobeying the Supreme Leader and "the principles of the
revolution." Thus, Khamenei position as the chief decision-maker at
the nuclear talks may indicate what Tehran´s intentions are. (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/23/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY