Iran’s diplomatic efforts have been hampered by military interventions such as the assassination of the Revolutionary Guard commander. Qassem Soleimanithe country’s foreign minister and nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a leaked recording.
“Many of the diplomatic prices we paid were due to the fact that [military] field was a priority, ”Zarif said in a secret interview taped Feb. 24 as part of an“ oral history ”research program that leaked Sunday. “We paid for [military] field but the [military] Field did not pay for us.
He said Soleimani – who was leading Iran’s foreign military operations in the Middle East and was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January 2020 – was telling him what to do in his negotiations with foreign dignitaries.
“Almost every time I went for interviews, it was Martyr Soleimani who said, ‘I want you to get this advantage, this point.’ He said, “ When you go talk to [Russian foreign minister] Lavrov, take 1, 2, 3, 4. ‘. . . If I had said not to use, for example, Iran Air [civilian] planes on the Tehran-Syria route [for military purposes], he would not have accepted.
For Iranian officials, denouncing the Revolutionary Guards, the main ideological arm of the Islamic Republic, or their military operations in the region, which the main Iranian leaders see as vital to their survival, can come at a cost.
The comments come as Iranian diplomats negotiated in Vienna this month to help relaunch the nuclear deal that Zarif struck with the world powers in 2015.
Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and imposed severe sanctions that have undermined pro-reform forces such as Zarif. New President Joe Biden has expressed his willingness to return to the deal and is in indirect negotiations with Iran in the Austrian capital.
The prospect of reaching a new deal with the United States has further complicated Iran’s domestic politics ahead of a presidential election on June 18 that will end Hassan Rouhani’s centrist government after two terms. Reformists see Zarif as their best choice to win the election and push for the revival of the nuclear deal.
If Zarif accepts Reform’s call to run, he could be a game-changer, analysts say. If he doesn’t show up, extremists – mainly based in the Revolutionary Guards, justice and parliament – think they might have an easy race in the polls.
Extremist forces are determined to discourage Zarif, reformists say, otherwise they would try to disqualify him under the strict candidate vetting procedures carried out by the Guardian Council, the radical constitutional watchdog.
A regime insider close to the extremists said the leaked file would not be used to remove Zarif from his post now. He did not comment further. But a reformist politician said the document could be used to disqualify the foreign minister.
In the interview, Zarif said he was unwilling to run for president. “The world is moving forward. . . These months are vital. I want to focus on foreign relations, not domestic politics. “
The case was first leaked by the London-based Persian-language television station Iran International, which the republic considers to be a hostile body funded by Saudi Arabia. Some other Iranian media also broadcast the three-hour interview, which was also listened to by the Financial Times.
Iran’s foreign ministry said the controversial parts were taken “out of context” and were part of a seven-hour interview that could be released if “concerned” authorities allowed, without giving further details.
Although the Islamic Republic views Russia as an ally, Zarif alleged on the tapes that Moscow attempted to sabotage the nuclear deal. He also said the Revolutionary Guards hid the fact that they had shot down ukrainian airliner Last year. The tragedy, in which all 176 passengers and crew were killed, came hours after Iran responded to Soleimani’s murder by launching missiles at a US military base in Iraq. Zarif said he had no idea about the attack.
The worldview of the leaders of the Islamic Republic, he said, was “based on a polarized cold war” and that a “minority capable of creating huge waves” had its “interest in highlighting the security so that its role is exceptional ”.
“From the start I said [Iranian diplomats that] we come to be sacrificed, not to be champions, ”Zarif said.