Tehran, Iran – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly berated Iran’s top diplomat for his comments on internal power struggles in a controversial audio tape leaked last week.
Khamenei said in a televised speech on Sunday that he was “surprised and sorry” to hear Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments belatedly Major General Qassem Soleimanithe power and influence of the diplomat, without directly naming the diplomat.
“Some of these comments are the repetition of the hostile talks of our enemies, the repetition of America’s words,” he said, noting that the media opposed to Iran released the tape.
More than three hours of what was supposed to be a confidential seven-hour government oral history project was broadcast by London-based Saudi-funded Iran International.
In the tape, Zarif said he had to repeatedly Diplomacy of “sacrifice” for what he calls “the ground” – denoting the operations and policies carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and more specifically its outward looking Quds force led by Soleimani until his assassination by the United States last year.
Zarif also says Soleimani traveled to Russia to sabotage the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with world powers soon after it was signed and complains that he was left in the dark on many issues, including Iran’s operations in Syria and Iraq.
Khamenei spoke on Sunday of the United States’ continued opposition to Iran’s growing influence in the region, saying that was the reason former President Donald Trump ordered The assassination of Soleimani via a drone strike in January 2020 in Baghdad.
“We should not say things that would make sense that we are repeating what they say, whether it is about the Quds Force or about the martyr Soleimani,” said the supreme leader.
He also claimed that, like everywhere else in the world, Iran’s foreign policy is not made by the Foreign Ministry and is simply implemented by it.
This duty in Iran, he said, rests with the Supreme National Security Council which is made up of senior officials from different governing factions.
The end for Zarif?
Khamenei’s remarks will certainly further embolden extremists who have been unstoppable in denigrating the foreign minister – and the government – and calling for his resignation.
Although it seems unlikely that Zarif will step down, especially as his term ends in several months and speaks to restore the nuclear deal continue in Vienna, the supreme leader’s rebuke casts a shadow over his future in Iranian politics.
The foreign minister, a relatively popular figure among the weakened centrist and reformist factions, has repeatedly said he has no ambition to run for the next presidential election in June.
The career diplomat had previously said he might be interested in continuing to serve in the Foreign Office, or else would likely retire in a teaching role at the university.
Earlier on Sunday, Zarif apologized to Soleimani’s family for the harm he may have caused them, and said his “honest” words to future officials do not detract from Soleimani’s efforts to ensure peace. security of Iran and the region.
In an online post a few days earlier, he said his comments were not intended to be a personal criticism of Soleimani, to whom he credited his efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the armed group ISIL. (ISIS).
Zarif posted another article online after Khamenei’s speech, claiming that the Supreme Leader ‘s remarks are the end point of all discussions and he is sorry that his comments meant as an “honest transfer of experiences” were leaked and disturbed Khamenei’s peace of mind.
President Rouhani said earlier this week that the leaked audio tape was an attempt to divide the country’s enemies to sabotage multilateral efforts in the Austrian capital to lift sanctions on Iran and curb the nuclear program from the country.
Rouhani has ordered his intelligence ministry to find out who leaked the tape, and similar efforts are underway in the judiciary and parliament.
The president also fired Hesamodin Ashna, his advisor and head of the Presidential Office’s Center for Strategic Studies, since he was responsible for organizing the interview with Zarif.