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Iran's Rouhani Criticizes "Revolutionary" Opponents as Rift Widens - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that his “revolutionary” opponents sought their own interests, not those of Iran’s people, while defending his nuclear deal with world powers and the policy of rapprochement he is building with the West.

The remarks exposed a worsening gap between Rouhani and hardliners, especially the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has called himself a proud revolutionary in recent months.

“What’s the use of saying I am a revolutionary … Why don’t we seek people’s comfort and our country’s glory?” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on the state television.

Rouhani has stood up for the nuclear deal with six major powers that put an end to international sanctions on Tehran in January, and has been since trying to revive Iran’s business and political ties with the West.

Moderates and reformers also saw great advantages in February elections for parliament and for the Assembly of Experts – a body that will choose the next supreme leader.

Hardline allies of Khamenei have blamed him of betraying the anti-Western values of the 1979 revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah.

But, to Rouhani, the election results were new vote of confidence for his policies and a chance to push for more political and social reforms.

“We had a revolution to promote morality, national unity, and brotherhood… You are a revolutionary when people feel safe from your words and actions,” Rouhani said.

Criticizing hardline newspapers that have increased their pressure on Rouhani’s allies in recent months, he said: “Some newspapers are bulletins of insult. You open them anxiously to see how they have insulted you again. Is this Islam, is this Islamic society?”

Last week Khamenei asked Assembly members to choose a “revolutionary” successor to him when the clock ticks, saying the next supreme leader should not compromise on Iran’s stance against the United States.

Khamenei said Iran’s economy had not yet benefited from the Western delegations visiting Iran after the lifting of sanctions as they had failed to fulfil their promises. He said the West tried to send “infiltrators” in disguise in some of the suspicious visits.

During the nuclear talks led by the United States, Khamenei repeatedly told his supporters that he did not trust the West and that he was “still a revolutionary, not a diplomat”.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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