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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Leader’

A Week after Phone Call, U.S., Iran, Exchange Doubts

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Entangled as he is, in a government shutdown in its fifth day, President Barack Obama devoted only a marginal portion of his interview with the Associated Press Saturday to his diplomatic outreach to Iran, in an attempt to bring an end to Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. A week or so after Obama’s phone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani—the first direct talk between American and Iranian leaders in more than 30 years, some of the initial excitement appears to have given way to pragmatism.

“Rouhani has staked his position on the idea that he can improve relations with the rest of the world,” Obama told the AP. “And so far he’s been saying a lot of the right things. And the question now is, can he follow through?”

Obama acknowledged that Rouhani is not Iran’s only “decision-maker. He’s not even the ultimate decision-maker,” he added, alluding to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Israel and other countries have questioned whether Rouhani’s public relations effort represents real change in Iran’s leadership.

The supreme leader Khamenei himself said on Saturday that he supports Rouhani’s attempts at moving closer to the West, but said that the U.S. leader is “untrustworthy, arrogant, illogical and a promise-breaker.”

He could probably win if he ran on a Republican ticket in most southern and mid-western states…

“We support the movement in the government’s diplomacy, including the New York visit, since we hold trust in the government and we are optimistic about it, but some of what happened in the New York visit were not proper because we believe the U.S. administration is untrustworthy, conceited, illogical and unfaithful to its pledges,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a cadets graduation ceremony in Tehran on Saturday.

Obama was careful to distance U.S. assessments of when Iran might have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon from what Israel is predicting. Israeli officials have been saying that Iran is a mere months away from building a bomb, but Obama said today that Tehran is at least a year away from having that capability.

The president used the same time frame last March, before his visit to Israel.

The Fars News agency reported that, in their phone conversation, Presidents Rouhani and Obama stressed the necessity for mutual cooperation on different regional issues. Then Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary Kerry were commissioned to begin follow up talks between the two countries.

“But after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, the US president made a U-turn, and said that ‘we take no options off the table, including military options,’” Fars complained, saying this “revealed the U.S. administration’s lack of independence and decision-making power.”

Oh, Bibi, Bibi, why must you rule so harshly over poor President Obama…

Rouhani Says Ice Beginning to Break with the West, Bibi Not Impressed

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the ice was already “beginning to break” between his country and the West. This despite the fact that there has been no meeting, no hand-shake, not even a polite nod in passing between himself and President Barack Obama in the UN halls in New York City.

White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that no meeting would take place, indicating that meeting would be “too complicated” for the Iranian when he goes back home.

Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, and then sounded conciliatory in a CNN interview. He said there had been “some talks” to arrange a meeting to give himself and Obama an opportunity to “talk with each other” but there was not sufficient time to coordinate such a meeting.

There you go, it wasn’t obedience to the ayatollah back home, it was just bad timing.

Asked whether he has been “authorized” by the Iranian supreme leader to improve ties with the West, Rouhani said he has the authority to do what he wants, according to national interests.

The supreme leader, he said, is not opposed to negotiations if they are necessary for the national interests of Iran.

“But speaking of the ice-breaking you mentioned, it’s already beginning to break because the environment is changing. And that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of the relations between Iran and the rest of the world,” Rouhani told CNN.

While the centrifuges keep on churning and while Iran is putting together warheads. A brave, new era, indeed.

When the CNN host asked him to deliver a message directly to the U.S. public, Rouhani said in English, “I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.”



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Obama’s call for Iran’s recent “conciliatory words” to be “matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

A JTA report suggested that Netanyahu’s insistence on dismantling any Iranian nuclear capacity as a condition for stopping the boycott against it could signal a major difference with the Obama administration as the U.S. engagement with Iran advances.

Iran: Can Rouhani Deliver?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

By Nir Boms and Shayan Arya

Last week, more than 250 Iranian steel workers gathered in front of the Supreme Leader’s residence in protest against unjustified layoffs and unpaid salaries. They were not the only ones. Reports from the past week revealed a dozen other such protests and strikes that range from a tire company, cable workers, the cinema association and even employees of Iran’s Ministry of Youth Affairs.

Protests and demonstrations are not that common in Iran; their last wave was met with harsh repression and violence. Now they have spread again and become more brazen. Signs again read “Down with the dictator,” while police used tear gas in an attempt to scare protesters away.

A combination of international sanctions and domestic mismanagement has resulted in rapidly rising unemployment and restive unemployed youth. The worsening economic conditions were also a key driver for the vote for change which took place in Tehran during the last Presidential election. But change is still a long way off.

Rouhani’s victory by such a wide margin was not just a testament to his politics, but seemingly a total rejection of the more conservative candidates more closely aligned with the widely despised supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Rouhani’s campaign symbol was a giant golden key, which he waved at rallies to symbolize his ability to open locked doors. To an Iranian electorate all too familiar with locked doors in every aspect of their lives — both domestic and international — even the remote possibility of things getting better was irresistible. But now that Rouhani has been elected, he may find it difficult to deliver on his promise.

Rouhani, to be sure, will face a mountain of problems, even compared to those of his predecessors. Iran’s international isolation has never been so severe. There is virtually no segment of Iran’s economy, or for that matter of Iranian society, that has been immune to the ill effects of the economic sanctions. In less than a year, Iran’s currency has lost two-thirds of its value against the dollar; and even by the most optimistic estimates, inflation is above 30%, with unemployment reaching similar proportions among urban youth.

Iran’s economy is under attack from two major fronts: international sanctions and domestic mismanagement inherent in the Islamic system.

Sanctions are not a new phenomenon there. Previous sanctions were imposed in response to the Islamic regime’s international support for terrorism and Iran’s dismal human rights record. But the more stringent sanctions now afflicting Iran were levied in response to the country’s nuclear program — and these are the crippling sanctions Rouhani needs to undo. To accomplish such a change, a change of policy is required. In addition to the nuclear issue, any negotiations for lifting sanctions obviously need to include Iran’s abandoning support for Hezbollah, its involvement in Syria, its continued support of other terrorist groups, as well as the Assad regime that continues to slaughter its people.

Rouhani’s first challenge is that he does not hold the keys to most of these issues. Iran’s policies on the nuclear issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international terrorism and supporting the Assad regime are the sole purview of Iran’s supreme leader. No president has ever been able to enter these domains in any meaningful way, let alone alter them substantially; these issues have, in fact, always been sources of tension and discreet friction between presidents and the supreme leader.

Another challenge lies in the United States Congress. As many of the sanctions against Iran have been embedded in laws, it would take a Herculean effort on the part of President Obama to convince the legislative branch to change them. Even if the president were to decide to “trust” Rohani, he would still need to convince Congress. Given the political atmosphere in Washington, it is unlikely the president would even consider risking his remaining political capital on lifting sanctions without being able to demonstrate substantial progress in changing Iran’s course.

A third challenge lies on the domestic front. Here Rouhani must face an endemic system of corruption, in addition to gangs of Revolutionary Guards [IRGC], who have extended their control over almost every aspect of Iran’s economy, government, military and security apparatus. To change that, Rouhani would have to tackle the IRGC and their powerful ally, the Supreme Leader Khamenei, who sees them as his extended arm for controlling Iran and key to the Islamic regime’s survival.

Ayatollah’s Advisor: ‘Iran-Egypt Unity will Form Core of a Great Islamic Power’

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The Mehr news agency reports that Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, has said that Iran and Egypt are the major countries of the Muslim world, so their unity will form the core of a great Islamic power in today’s world.

Velayati made the remarks during a meeting with a number of Egyptian media and cultural intellectuals in Tehran on Tuesday.

He also said that certain figures, whose interests are in division among Muslims, are opposed to the establishment of relations between Tehran and Cairo.

Two Essays Explore Role of Anti-Nuke Fatwa in Guaranteeing Iran’s Nuclear Program Stay Peaceful

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has recently issued a fatwa declaring that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are all “haram” (prohibited in Islam).

According to the Iranian news agency Mehr, Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani said on Wednesday that “the fatwa that the Supreme Leader has issued is the best guarantee that Iran will never seek to produce nuclear weapons.”

In their book “Nuclear Fatwa: Religion and Politics in Iran’s Proliferation Strategy,” published September 2011 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a think tank often described as being pro-Israel), Michael Eisenstadt and Mehdi Khalaji discuss the vital role religion plays in every aspect of Iranian politics, and the realistic prospects that a fatwa might influence nuclear policy.

The 46 Page book can be downloaded free in PDF format here.

Michael Eisenstadt’s essay examines the regime’s doctrine of expediency, which has guided Iranian decision making since the mid-to-late 1980s. He highlights the growing tension between this doctrine, which has generally led the Islamic Republic to act in a circumspect manner while pursuing an anti–status quo foreign policy, and the increasingly influential but less flexible doctrines of resistance (embraced by a new generation of hardline Iranian politicians) and politicized messianic Shia Islam (embraced by President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad and some of his supporters) as applied to Iranian behavior and nuclear decision making.

Mehdi Khalaji’s essay looks at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fatwa proscribing the development, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons, against the background of traditional Islamic attitudes toward weapons of mass destruction and Shiite attitudes toward dissimulation and deception, and considers how these factors have been dealt with by the Expediency Council, which is responsible for advising the Supreme Leader on matters of national policy and resolving legislative issues. The author demonstrates how decisions in the Islamic Republic on these and other matters are grounded not in Islamic law but rather in the regime’s doctrine of expediency, as interpreted by the Supreme Leader.

Both essays conclude that if the Islamic Republic’s leaders believe that developing, stockpiling, or using nuclear weapons, is in its interests, then religious considerations will not constrain these actions. Past proclamations about the matter, like all fatwas issued by Shiite clerics, can be revised under new circumstances. And while the Islamic Republic has repeatedly put the interests of the regime ahead of religious principles, the growing role played by the doctrines of resistance and politicized messianic Shia Islam may well  increase the propensity of decision makers to act in an assertive manner. Such assertiveness holds the attendant potential for miscalculation and overreach, thereby complicating efforts by the United States and its partners to deter and contain a nuclear Iran.

The following excerpt from Eisenstadt’s essay is worth contemplating:

It is not clear how the acquisition of nuclear weapons might alter the logic underpinning Iranian decision making. It would seem that the doctrine of expediency would constrain reckless acts that could prompt nuclear retaliation against the Islamic Republic. After all, Iran’s leadership and the regime’s brand of revolutionary Islam will not survive if the Islamic Republic does not survive.

However, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who now heads the Expediency Council, stated in a December 2001 speech:

If one day the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.

Whether Rafsanjani was engaging in idle talk or expressing a reasoned opinion is unclear. Either way, the fact that a pragmatic conservative politician responsible for advising the Supreme Leader on the regime’s expediency can make such a statement raises questions about the regime’s sobriety when it comes to nuclear weapons and Israel.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic’s efforts in recent years to inculcate a culture of resistance (moqavemat) that pushes boundaries and does not yield on matters of principle, along with an upsurge in Mahdist (messianic) devotion in some regime circles, raises additional concerns that Iranian decision makers might be more willing to accept risk, and less inclined to act with prudence and caution, than in the past.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/iran/two-essays-explore-role-of-anti-nuke-fatwa-in-guaranteeing-irans-nuclear-program-stay-peaceful/2012/04/11/

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