Seyed Sharif Hosseini, member of the Majlis (Iran’s parliament) Presiding Board, told IRNA on Monday that “no talks have been or will be held without confirmation of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.”
This is one of those announcements that immediately makes you wonder, why was it necessary to make it? Would this influential politician be saying this had it been obvious that President Hassan Rouhani is a loyal servant of the supreme leader? Probably not.
When Rouhani returned home to Tehran Saturday, from a week in New York City, Iranians from across the political spectrum welcomed him with cheers, big smiles and big, waving flags, congratulating his historic phone conversation with Obama.
Some in the crowd threw eggs at him and shouted “Death to America! Death to Israel,” accusing Rouhani of too much conciliation with the infidels.
But the man who decides who is infidel and who fidels just fine in Iran, Supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, sent his closest foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, to greet the returning president.
Almanar News argued that the presence of Velayati in the welcoming crowd “gave weight to Rouhani’s insistence that he had the highest authority to pursue his diplomatic initiative at the UN general assembly,” which culminated in the groundbreaking 15-minute phone conversation with Obama on Friday.
But the Establishment must assert itself above President Rouhani, before he becomes too big for his own breeches. This newly elected president must be the most popular man in the media this week, and it’s hard to believe that the ayatollahs are looking forward to his growing even bigger on their watch.
So they’re looking to co-opt Rouhani’s win, own it, if you will. Hence MP Hosseini’s spiel about the supreme leader’s approval. But, having done that, it must be a huge joy for the Iranians to watch their man scoring. As Hosseini put it: “The Zionist regime is severely concerned and angry with the positive and influential measures taken by the Iranian delegation in New York.”
That is absolutely true. And Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also scored huge points when he ridiculed Israel for having been warning for 20 years now that Iran is six months away from making a nuclear bomb. Both Rouhani and Zarif looked “with it,” as if none of the past’s dark stuff could stick to their robes or, in Zarif’s case, nicely tailored suit.
Also: Tehran Times wrote today that Israel’s claim to have captured an Iranian spy is yet another cheap attempt to sabotage the rapprochement between the U.S. and Islamic republic.
At this point, pushing the same game plan that yielded results last year, with the ACME style cartoon of red lines and nukes would only earn Prime Minister Netanyahu scorn in the international arena. President Obama wants to thaw the U.S. relations with Iran, and he will find effective ways of getting there. It is most likely that Netanyahu will emerge from his meeting later today with the president without his lunch money. He will probably do his best to sound tough and dangerous, while, essentially, giving his approval to Obama’s diplomatic ambitions.
Frankly, this would be the perfect time to put former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman in charge. Liberman was able over the past four years to bring the former Soviet republics closer to the Israeli sphere of influence. He should be able to get us closer to Russia as well.
Israel needs to buy a few things from Russia – cannons, Katyusha launchers, whatever it takes to cement a relationship Moscow understands. Likewise with China–they make nice things, too. America’s ability to impose its will on Israel must be mitigated by the latter’s show of independence. We need more than one super power to keep the world safe, and Israel needs more than one client relationship, play hard to get, if you will, to protect itself from the utter madness that passes for foreign policy in Washington.
Incidentally, on those spying allegations – that was so 1970s. And the pictures that dangerous spy took, my goodness: a chair, an empty terminal, Hayarkon Street. Treason I tells you, treason…
We’re losing this round badly, people. Let’s call for a time out and go for a heavier quarterback…