Political Mobilization as Concerns over Blacklisting Revolutionary Guard Grow

London- A number of options is lined up at US President Donald Trump’s desk on containing the ever-expanding threat Iran poses against regional and international security. Counter-actively, Tehran spares no time in preparing responsive scenarios to the anticipated change in Washington policy. 

On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani kicked of the national cabinet meeting by issuing an explicit warning on the widespread concerns of the Revolutionary Guard being blacklisted and the nuclear deal scrapped.

The US president is expected to “decertify” Iran’s nuclear deal with global powers this week and add its Revolutionary Guards military force to Washington’s blacklist under a strategy to increase pressure on Tehran.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif discussed behind parliament’s closed doors multiple possible scenarios to confront any drastic change in US policies towards the nuclear deal, and White House’s attempt to restrain Revolutionary Guard’s regional interference.

Tehran’s confusion and political state of top alertness comes at a time when several international parties have jumped into consultations, in an attempt to persuade Trump to uphold the Vienna nuclear agreement, 21 months after it going into force.

Rouhani, despite being cited to have controversy with the country’s conservatives, gave a full-throated defense of his one-time rivals in the Revolutionary Guards, as the country’s pragmatist and hardline factions rallied together in the face of threats from Trump.

“If someone backs out of an international deal, he’s the loser, not the one who doesn’t,” Rouhani said during the cabinet meeting.

He said US action against the Guards would be a “mistake beyond mistakes”.

“Sticking to a deal shows the dignity of a state and to what extent its government is trustworthy,” he added.

“They think that the Guards are a military entity. The Revolutionary Guards are not a military entity. They’re in the heart of the people. The Revolutionary Guards, in all the days of danger, have defended our national interests,” he said.

“We’re one society. We’re Iran. There are no differences between differentfactions in confronting the plots of our enemies,” he added.

During an unprecedentedly bitter campaign, he repeatedly spoke out in public against the political influence of the Guards, accusing them of backing his hardline opponent to defend their economic interests.

In recent days, however, the threat of new action from Washington has prompted a public display of unity from the rival factions among Iran’s rulers.

“Today, the president of America has created conditions where Iran is more united than ever. Today, those who oppose the nuclear deal and those who support it are side by side. We all have one voice,” Rouhani said.

Trump is expected to unveil a broad strategy on confronting Iran this week, likely on Friday. There was always the chance he could still have a last-minute change of heart and certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 accord, which he has called an “embarrassment” and the “worst deal ever negotiated.”

Iran’s Judiciary Chief to Rouhani: You are Ineffective, in Pursuit of Nuclear Agreement

​London — Iran’s Judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani delivered a direct response to statements of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a quick return of skirmishes and deep disputes among high-rank officials in Tehran.

“Someone said that the judiciary body is summoning people due to its unemployment. If someone has to be unemployed then it is you, who have abandoned the country affairs four years ago and pursued the nuclear agreement as if Iran has no other problems and affairs,” Larijani stated.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized, during his speech at the University of Tehran on Saturday, the imposed restrictions on former President Mohammad Khatami and mocked arresting some people close to him. “Maybe some bodies are unemployed and need to occupy themselves so they summon people,” he said.

Rouhani demanded to reward all political blocs that took part in the elections, expressing annoyance at the way the authority is dealing with his followers. “In the name of political blocs, we created an unhealthy competition. They reward a bloc and punish the other. Is this an election?” he exclaimed.

Addressing Rouhani, Larijani said that it is his duty to defend the judiciary body since it is of the regime elements, just the way he did when he defended the government in the past years.

He added that fighting corruption is among the judiciary body goals but at the same time he pointed out that there are obstacles when it comes to fighting the economic corruption without providing further details. “Unfortunately, in corruption-related cases, once you summon someone, interest owners start causing personal and political tension,” Larijani stated.

The Iranian Judiciary arrested Rouhani’s brother and advisor after announcing his victory in the presidential elections in May, before releasing him on a bail of EUR7.6 million.

Iranian FM to Visit Muscat, Doha

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif holds a press conference on September 1, 2015, at the residence of the Iranian ambassador in the Tunisian capital Tunis.

London- Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is to meet his Omani counterpart Yusuf bin Alawi in Muscat on Monday before heading to Qatar, at a time when Tehran is facing US accusations regarding its regional attitude.

Zarif will hold discussions with Alawi on regional developments such as in Iraq, Syria and Yemen in addition to Gulf topics. After Muscat, Zarif is expected to head to Doha. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi stated that Zarif will also meet high-rank officials in the two countries.

His visit comes one week after Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani accused the boycott countries of offering Iran a gift, saying that their procedures are pushing Doha towards Tehran.

As for the nuclear deal, its future is still uncertain. AFP quoted the Qatari minister as saying that the region is in need of a country that has nuclear weapons. “The agreement is good but we need a better solution,” he added.

This is the first foreign visit to Zarif after his return from New York.

Furthermore, foreign ministers of Iran and Oman will discuss possible ways of cooperation in fields of energy and gas transportation to Oman and India. FM of Iran, Oman and India met one week ago on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York where they discussed cooperation in the energy field.

Bin Alawi visited Tehran mid of July and held talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the foreign minister, following Rouhani’s visit to Oman and Kuwait earlier in an attempt to reform ties with Gulf states.

Risks of Iran Nuclear Deal Collapse

We can sense fear in statements made by Iranian officials and most recently President Hassan Rouhani who warned against the consequences of the big scheme’s collapse – the reconciliation agreement with the West based on the nuclear deal signed during the term of former US President Barack Obama.

The Congress shocked the Iranian government when it reinstated a number of economic sanctions on Iran, and US President Donald Trump insisted on his stance that the nuclear agreement serves Iran more than the US, threatening to abolish it.

Countries of the European Union (EU) are keen to preserve the agreement, which they believe it ushered in a new phase with the Iranian regime. Since signing it, they rushed to seal huge trade deals with Tehran, a move that was previously not possible because the US government would have put any European company that dealt with Iran on the blacklist.

Arab states, especially Gulf countries, were the most provoked by this agreement. They were neither against sealing a deal that eradicates the Iranian nuclear danger nor against dealing commercially with Iran but objected over its high cost – extending Iran’s powers via fighting in Syria, Yemen and Iraq and threatening other Arab states.

In case Iran considered that imposing sanctions abolishes the nuclear deal then it will resume uranium enrichment, renewing tension. Iran offers the West two options: its nuclear project that will threaten the West and Israel in the future, or being allowed to have hegemony over the region.

Tehran used the second option as a weapon to blackmail the West: Obama’s administration struck with it a deal that only aims at halting its nuclear program, allowing it to enjoy its powers in several areas, including those that the US considers as interest zones such as the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yet, Iran’s commitment to ceasing the nuclear project is a significant progress that makes Iran worthy of the removal of economic and commercial sanctions. But Obama’s administration went so far in its concessions and allowed Tehran to wage wars, for the first time and in a direct manner, even in states not lying on its border such as Syria and Yemen.

The nuclear agreement is partially responsible for the region’s chaos.

There are more than 50,000 extremists fighting in Syria – directed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and brought in from various countries at the time when the international community was endeavoring to get rid of extremist groups such as ISIS.

Because the nuclear agreement was negotiated discreetly between the Obama and Rouhani teams, the region hasn’t been aware of its details until recently – the Obama administration left behind it a dangerous mine. Iran has become more aggressive after signing the agreement, this is evident.

The deal might succeed in disrupting the nuclear project for another decade but it has fueled a more dangerous war in the Middle East and posed an unprecedented level of threat to regimes since the revolution in Iran in 1979. It also reinforced extremists in Tehran.

The new Iranian threats against the US economic sanctions must be taken seriously because they trigger Iran’s way of imposing what it wants via violence and chaos. But the US relapse in Syria represents a huge tactical mistake because Syria is where Iran can be besieged and obliged to cooperate regionally and internationally.

There is a contradiction here because Washington is escalating with Iran on the nuclear level and allowing it to operate freely on the Syrian front.

Seflies with Mogehrini Stir Criticism in Iran

Iranian Deputies try to take selfie with Federica Mogherini

London – Iranian lawmakers came under fire after a number of members of the Parliament rushed to take photos with EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini visited Tehran on Saturday for the country’s presidential inauguration of President Hasan Rouhani’s second term.

Shortly after the ceremony ended, the top diplomat was surrounded by several MPs snapping pictures with their phones.

Social media users expressed their surprise for the situation after the pictures circulated online showing the politicians around Mogherini as Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary, and Expatriates’ Affairs Hasan Qashqavi was trying to take a group photo.

Twitter users remained critical, with one replying that the MPs had “embarrassed the nation”.

Tasnim News Agency was the first to post the pictures, prompting social media ridicule and many users labeled their actions as “humiliating”. Social media users took the opportunity to shed light on the issues women suffer from in Iran.

Fars semi-official news agency, considered close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), described the MPs’ behavior as “strange” and used the “selfie of shame” hashtag.

MP Alireza Salimi called the behavior “self-surrender to the West” and told Mehr News Agency that a committee on the conduct of members may probe the incident, especially if other MPs complain that the selfies caused “contempt” for Parliament.

This isn’t the first time that a picture of the Iranian parliament stirs controversy. In 2012, media outlets posted images of members of parliament sleeping during a session. The incident led to a vote on limiting the access of photojournalists, which didn’t receive enough votes to pass it.

Before heading to Iran, Mogherini received criticism from several human rights groups as Amnesty International called upon the EU to address the human rights’ violations in the country.

Some tried to use the presence of Reformist lawmakers around the EU official to attack the Reformist movement, while others considered that Mogherini’s political status was the reason behind the MPs’ interest.

Several political figures and artists commented on the matter, while Rouhani’s cultural adviser Hesam Ashena said that this is a cultural matter and not a political one, adding that: “every one of those esteemed MPs in that selfie should be interviewed seriously.”

An advisor to Iran’s former president, Sadegh Kharraz, said parliament members should attend “a training course on codes of conduct and universal moral values,” the BBC reported.

The incident also became an occasion for online users to generate funny photos and joke with several cartoonists drawing Mogherini and the lawmakers.

Twitter users compared pictures of the incident alongside that of Monica Belluci in the film Malena, in which the actress is surrounded by men offering to light her cigarette.

Iran’s reformist MP representing Shiraz Farajollah Rajabi apologized for the selfie which was an “inappropriate behavior of the representative of the people”, adding that it was done informally.

A Twitter user said that Mogherini will write in her memoir that she went to a country and didn’t see any female member of its parliament.

Rouhani Inaugurated President for a Second Term

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani attends his swearing-in ceremony for a further term, at the parliament in Tehran

London – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his country’s readiness for further enhancing cooperation with other states and the launch of “mother of all negotiations”, hinting to Tehran’s anticipation for communicating with the new US administration. Rouhani believes that the success of the nuclear agreement will develop foreign and domestic policies and enhance the economic situation.

The president reiterated that Iran will continue to develop its nuclear arsenal which is a guarantor of peace and insisted that a practical agreement must be reached between internal parties for national interests.

At his inauguration before parliament Saturday, Rouhani underscored the need for “national cooperation” and “constructive” relations with the world.

Rouhani was sworn in as Iran’s 12th president in Tehran at the presence of the country’s high-ranking officials as well as leaders and senior politicians from around the world.

The inauguration ceremony started with speeches from Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani at the presence of delegates from more than 140 countries, according to state news agencies, including High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Afghani President Ashraf Ghani, and President of North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Jon-nam.

Rouhani announced his country’s readiness to cooperate with the countries present at the inauguration, adding that Tehran is not against any other country. He said the Iranian nation has made great sacrifices in the path of safeguarding freedom and the rule of law, adding that Iranians have put their trust in the Islamic establishment.

The president reiterated the political agenda of his second government, which he pursued over his first term, maintaining that his government “wants to be one of moderation, one which would not succumb to any aggression or be upset by any excitement.”

He told the audience that he aims to present a pacifist government preferring peace over war and reform over stagnancy in both domestic and foreign policies. The president vowed to follow the Iranian nation’s demands and emphasized that his government is ready to defend the country’s national interests.

During his presidential campaign, Rouhani praised the nuclear agreement saying that it keeps Iran from entering into wars, which was highly criticized by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who considered military power and people as the reason behind avoiding wars.

Rouhani’s defense of his foreign policy came in an attempt to end any criticism of the nuclear agreement, especially after US President Donald Trump signed new sanctions against Tehran.

He emphasized that the time of imposing sanctions has ended and called for holding negotiations in dealing with issues.

Rouhani said the US has not adhered to its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because it is “addicted to the illegal and ineffective policy of sanctions and threats” and this proved to the world that Washington cannot be trusted. He stressed that Iran would never initiate the violation of the nuclear deal but would not remain silent in the face of US non-performance of the deal.

Referring to largest non-nuclear bomb used, Rouhani said that the time of “mother of bomb” is over. He stated: “Today, it’s not time to unveil the mother of bombs. Time is ripe for unveiling mother of all cooperation.”

“Mother of bombs” weighs 10 tons and is nine meters long, and was used by the US Army in eastern Afghanistan in April. Iran considered the use of this bomb a message directed to it and Washington was strongly criticized by commanders of Iranian armed forces.

In recent weeks, US imposed new sanctions on Iran nationals and entities, accusing it of breaching the nuclear deal.

According to foreign policy experts, Rouhani’s administration is going through its weakest times of foreign policies especially amid the wide criticism he has been receiving internally.

Current Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif is expected to remain in position for the coming four years.

Rouhani linked between peace and weapons saying that his country’s peace depends on weapons and weapons depend on peace, adding that the nuclear agreement is a model of national agreement in Iran.

Rouhani denies any disagreement between Iranian officials concerning the nuclear agreement following the criticism he received that his missile program affects his presidential campaign.

Rouhani also delivered several messages to his policies’ critics especially after recent internal disagreements reached an unprecedented level in the history of the regime.

He reiterated the importance of reaching a common understanding and agreement on national causes and opportunities.

The president vowed to honor his campaign’s promises.

Unlike previous ceremonies, Commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Mohammed Ali Jafari didn’t attend Rouhani’s inauguration as well as Commander of IRGC’s Quds Force Qasem Soleimani. This indicates the ongoing disagreements between Rouhani and top IRGC officials after he described the military forces as a “government with rifle.”

Rouhani Proposes Shamkhani for Prime Minister

Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani

London – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has proposed secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani for the position of minister of interior, according to knowledgeable sources.

Iranian government spokesperson Mohammad Nobakht stated that the formation is in its last stages, while ILNA news agency reported that Rouhani could change half his current government and only nine will keep their positions including that of foreign affairs, intelligence and petroleum.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is expected to sign Rouhani’s presidential decree for the second term and he will be sworn in before the parliament next Saturday, amid unprecedented security measures in Tehran.

Sources close to the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Rouhani is discussing with Shamkhani the position of an interior minister. Shamkhani was a former defense minister during the presidency of reformist President Mohammed Khatami.

Choosing Shamkhani for the ministry will be welcomed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and would convince the Speaker Ali Larijani to drop his candidate.

Mehr news agency reported current Minister of Interior Rahmani Fazli saying that Rouhani had discussed with him the government’s formation. He didn’t, however, reveal whether he asked him to remain in position or not.

ILNA news agency reported that current vice president for executive affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari is the president’s candidate for the position of minister of industries and mines.

Office of Iran’s Supreme Leader issued a statement last Friday saying that the president is consulting the Supreme Leader about several names suggested for the ministries of security, defense, and foreign affairs without referring to the ministry of interior affairs.

Secretary of the Supreme National Security is considered one of the top official positions named by the Supreme Leader. Former Iranian reports suggested the transfer of current minister of defense Hossein Dehghan to the Supreme National Security Council.

Meanwhile, ILNA published a report saying that Rouhani agreed with Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami that he will be named as defense minister instead of Dehghan, whereas Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alawi will remain in his position.

Rouhani will most likely assign the current minister of information and communications technology Mahmoud Vaezi as his chief of staff, with reports saying that Vaezi will step down from office and assign one of his deputies instead.

ILNA also stated that the current ministers of justice and culture will be changed, with only nine ministers remaining in their positions including foreign affairs, intelligence, petroleum, and health.

Reformist MP Elias Hazrati stated earlier this week that the President will most likely announce the new government after his swearing-in ceremony.

Iranian government spokesperson Mohammad Nobakht said that the president has heard different opinions about the cabinet and he himself will make the final decision, adding that the president is committed to the demands of the people and invites the best and most appropriate figures.

Nobakht continued, “Instead of responding to the demands of certain political currents, Rouhani considers himself responsive to the demands of the people, while not forgetting and respecting the efforts and services of the political currents.”

Tehran Confused About New American Sanctions

Simorgh rocket is launched and tested at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre, Iran

As the US moves a step closer to imposing a panoply of harsher sanctions on Iran, the leadership in Tehran appears divided in its interpretation of the new challenge. The fact that “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has not yet fully commented on the proposed sanctions has enabled factions within the regime to offer different, at times conflicting, narratives on the US move.

The faction identified with the late President Hashem Rafsanjani, and now symbolically headed by President Hassan Rouhani, is trying to minimize the impact of the proposed new sanctions. To that end, it develops three themes.

The first is to urge caution until the sanctions bill approved by the US House of Representatives and the Senate completes the legislative process and wait and see if President Donald Trump actually signs it.

“Although it is possible that Trump will sign the bill, we can’t be sure until he has done so,” comments the official news agency IRNA in an editorial Monday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi echoes that by insisting that “the legislative process isn’t yet complete.”
It is clear that the Rouhani faction is reluctant to see the new sanction move as an end to a process of normalization launched by former US President Barack Obama almost eight years ago.

“Rouhani still believes that his promise of moderating Iran’s behavior has sympathizers in Washington,” says Nasser Zamani, an Iranian analyst. “He thinks that by publicly challenging the Islamic Revolutionary Guard he has shown his determination to curb their activities inside and outside Iran.”

Rouhani’s analysis is partially true at least as far as part of the US government, still full of Obama holdovers is concerned.

But the idea that Rouhani’s faction may be able to propel Iran into a new direction, especially in a period of transition that would see the end of Khamenei’s leadership, also has supporters within the new Trump administration.

“Rouhani is a man who has shown he favors Iran’s return to the international community,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a conference in Aspen Colorado last week.

“Iran isn’t a monolithic system and has different factions competing to impose their views.”

Pompeo also said that the so-called “nuclear deal” had helped Rouhani get re-elected last spring.

Former CIA Director John Brennan has expressed a similar sentiment.

“I think the nuclear deal helped Rouhani who is a moderate man,” Brenan says. “What he needs is time to strengthen his position.”

Interestingly, influential voices within the Israeli leadership share that analysis. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu no longer beats the drums about the immediate abrogation of the “Iran nuclear deal”, insisting rather on the need for Iran to moderate its behavior.

The fact that Iran has taken no action against Israel since the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah is cited by some Israeli analysts as an indication that promoting the “moderates” in Tehran may have a realistic chance of success.

The second theme developed in Tehran in reaction to the new proposed sanctions is to minimize their impact.

“It is wrong to present the new sanctions as the Mother of All Sanctions,” says Islamic Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani. What the Americans have done is mainly for propaganda purposes. We should not fall into their trap.”

Foreign Minister Muhammad-Javad Zarif, expected to retain his post in Rouhani’s new Cabinet, has adopted a similar stance with the additional claim that the Islamic Republic would “adopt proportionate measures in response.”

Both Rouhani and Zarif believe that US lawmakers are trying to force Iran to denounce the “nuclear deal”, a move that would obviate the need for Trump to do so. However, such a move by Iran could mean losing the support it has won from most of the European Union members.

The third theme presented in Tehran in response to proposed new sanctions by Washington is to look to others to derail the American plan. The sanctions bill approved by the Congress also concerns Russia and North Korea. Tehran believes that Moscow will not take the blow lying down while the European Union, which has extensive business interests in Russia, will also oppose the American move.

The official media in Tehran have given prominence to a statement by EU President Jean-Claude Junkers promising to study the new US sanctions and “take appropriate measures.”

Official media claim that EU’s foreign policy spokesperson Federica Mogherini will lead a major international campaign to protect the Iran “nuclear deal” as part of a broad coalition consisting of the EU, Russia and Iran.

However, other voices in Tehran are calling on Rouhani to formally denounce the “nuclear deal”.

“The new American sanctions have annihilated the nuclear deal,” says Ayatollah Salimi who heads the Education Committee of the Islamic Majlis, Iran’s ersatz parliament. “If previous sanctions were against the spirit of the nuclear deal, the new ones violate both the letter and the spirit.”

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed-Javad Larijani shares that view.

“The new bill approved by the US senate makes the nuclear deal meaningless,” he says. “It destroys whatever interest the Islamic Republic may have had in staying with the deal.”

The section of the official media controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard presents the new US move as targeting Iran’s para-military structures. Because the IRGC is involved in numerous business concerns, the new US sanctions could force even Iranian companies either to boycott the IRGC’s economic branches or risk losing business with European and other foreign firms who would not want to be put on a black list in the United States.

The official Islamic Radio and TV, controlled by the IRGC, claims that the new US legislation includes a “confidential addendum” that envisages the unrestricted inspection of Iran’s military sites and the freezing of the Iranian missile projects.

“The Americans are preparing a new sedition (fitnah), “says Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the Assembly of Experts. “The aim of the new fitnah is the same as that of previous ones: regime change.”

That Tehran has not developed a coherent stance to new US sanctions may be partly due to difficulties that Rouhani faces in forming his new Cabinet. The president thought he would smooth his path by presenting the list of proposed ministers to Khamenei before handing it over to the Islamic Majlis. The move, in direct violation of the Islamic Republic Constitution, provoked a storm of protest. Some Majlis members argued that Rouhani’s move would make it impossible for the Majlis to reject any ministers because doing so could mean over-ruling the “Supreme Guide” who is supposed to have the final say on all religious, political, social and other matters.

The storm of protest apparently forced Khamenei to issue a brief statement yesterday saying he had not approved the list presented by Rouhani and that the Majlis was free to do its work.

Although the dust has not settled on the issue of new US sanctions two points are clear. The first is that with the end of the Obama era, Rouhani and his faction have lost the backbone of their plan to capture other segments of the Iranian power structure. Even Rouhani’s public attacks on the IRGC did not succeed in winning him from the Trump administration the kind of support he enjoyed Under Obama. The perception that the “normalization” scheme has hit a wall in Tehran has led to talk of the US probing other potential “partners” in Tehran, including, very surprisingly, from within the military establishment which is the principal target of the new sanctions.

The second point that is clear is that the Congressional move entrenches sanctions into US law which no president would be able to suspend let alone remove without further legislation. Obama was able to help the Islamic Republic by suspending some sanctions on Iran in the teeth of opposition from the Congress. With the new law, no future Obama would be able to do such a favor to the mullahs.

The tangled relationship between the Islamic Republic and the United States just got even more complicated.

Iran’s ‘Nuclear’ Facing Mysterious Fate

Iran

London, Washington- Simultaneous statements issued from Washington and Iran on Wednesday uncovered a shady future of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord after the US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday on a new list of sanctions against Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized the US new bill to impose sanctions on his country and pledged to take a decisive response.

“If the enemy puts part of their promises underfoot then we will also put part of it underfoot” he said.

Shortly before Rouhani’s speech, the Iranian Foreign Ministry responded through its spokesman Bahram Qassemi, who said the US admiration has obligations that needed to be fulfilled under the accord, adding that the countries’ rules and laws could be an excuse for governments to evade their international responsibilities.

The US new bill includes sanctions against Iran and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for supporting terrorism.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi was the first Iranian official to respond to the US bill, which he described as “a hostile measure” against the nuclear accord even if it was only “a compilation of previous US in the non-nuclear fields.”

Meanwhile, during a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, US President Donald Trump threatened that Iran would face “big, big problems” if it fails to comply with the 2015 nuclear agreement.

The president also told The Wall Street Journal that he would be surprised if Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal when he should re-certify it in three months.

“We’ll talk about the subject in 90 days but I would be surprised if they were in compliance,” he told WSJ.

Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said the Trump administration should be cautious more than ever about the US military approach towards the Islamic Republic.

Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the committee would discuss the US bill on Saturday in an urgent meeting.

Rouhani Meets IRGC Senior Commanders to Diffuse Tension

President Rouhani meeting with IRGC commanders

London – Two weeks before the presidential constitutional oath and announcement for the new government lineup, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani continued his consultations with decision makers in the country.

The President met with five senior commanders of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in an attempt to diffuse tensions, stressing that unity among all forces and institutions is essential for the realization of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s guidelines and serving the people.

As Iranians look forward to Supreme Leader’s position in the upcoming government, local media reported the meeting between the President and IRGC commanders including: Commander of IRGC Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, IRGC Aerospace Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Basij Commander Gholam-Hossein Gheybparvar, and Deputy Chief of Sarallah unit Esmael Kosari.

Over the past month, deep differences surfaced between the IRGC and the government. Yet, an official statement of the meeting reported friendly atmosphere without any further details on whether the government formation was discussed or not.

Since his election, Rouhani criticized IRGC’s policies describing guards as “the government with gun”, hinting that the IRGC is interfering in the government’s authorities.

During the presidential campaign, the President was very critical of the guards for revealing ballistic missiles’ warehouse saying they are attempting to hamper the government after the sanctions’ lift off.

He also accused the military officials of interfering in the elections to support his conservative opponent Ebrahim Raeisi.

The disagreement initially was about who gave orders to launch six ballistic missiles in addition to varying statements on the attack executed by Iranians belonging to ISIS on the parliament and Khomeini’s shrine.

In his turn, IRGC Commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari rejected Rouhani’s criticism of his forces’ involvement in Iran’s economy and defended his forces’ track record.

Jafari blasted the president’s remarks and emphasized that the IRGC is the main guarantor of Iran’s security and stability.

“A government without a gun is humiliated and ultimately forced to surrender,” he said, adding that the Iranian people need the IRGC’s help now more than ever.

In addition, Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani warned against weakening the Islamic forces by “exposing them to various attacks”, adding that the IRGC has fought an “international war defending its allies in Syria and Iraq.”

Quds Force Commander said that had it not been for the Revolutionary Guard, the country would not have existed.

Rouhani is set to recite his oath and announce his government before the Parliament on August 5.

IRGC is currently pressuring to gain major ministries: defense, interior, and oil. Sources close to the matter suggested that current Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan is likely to remain in position, while other Iranian sources reported that Rouhani is looking forward to assigning an army commander instead.

During the meeting, Rouhani appreciated efforts exerted by the IRGC forces and hoped for armed forces attempts to serve the needs of people.

He also wished that armed forces will bolster their combat powers using modern technologies to safeguard the country. He also expressed hope that all institutions and responsible organs boost their efficiency with more clarity in their specialized fields and guaranteeing national security by increasing the IRGC’s and the Army’s combating power through modern technology.

He also hoped that, during the new government’s tenure, the coordinated efforts of all armed forces would quickly accelerate the fulfillment of the people’s demands and all responsible institutions and organizations, with full transparency in their field of expertise.

The Iranian president highlighted government’s support of IRGC services.

Meanwhile, IRGC Commander Major General Jafari congratulated Hassan Rouhani’s re-election as president. He also extended IRGC’s readiness to maintain all-out cooperation with the government in realizing Islamic Revolution’s objectives.

During the meeting, commanders praised the government’s support in reinforcing defense power and also fighting terrorism in the region.

Commander of Basij Forces Gholamhossein Gheybparvar was the only IRGC leader to congratulate Rouhani following his re-election.

In other news, 70 economic experts sent an open letter to Iranian president warning against falling under political pressures and bargains in the formation of his economic team of the new government.

The experts advised that some candidates for economic positions do not have the suitable requirements.

The signees, most of which are scholars and university professors, said that they do not support any certain party or group, but want a qualified economic team as part of the new government ready to face the economic challenges.