Monday, June 27, 2016

Iran's Rohani Stands Up to the Revolutionary Guards

Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz

Image from article, with caption: Iranian President Hassan Rohani speaks at the inauguration of the new parliament in Tehran on May 28, 2016

The Iranian president, who wants to open Iran to the world, is standing firm against a conservative alliance that fears a 'Western invasion' in the wake of the nuclear agreement.

[There is] a power struggle between Rohani’s government and the Revolutionary Guards over Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East.
Rohani wants good relations with other countries in the region, especially the Gulf States, and seeks to reconcile with Saudi Arabia. He is opposed by a powerful coalition comprising the Revolutionary Guards, supreme leader Ali Khamenei and ultraconservative groups that fear a “Western invasion” of Iran in the wake of the nuclear agreement with the West. ...
[Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein] Amir-Abdollahian, a conservative ... created a power center within the government that sought to block Iranian efforts at rapprochement with Saudi Arabia.  ... According to reports from Iran, Washington politely asked Rohani to calm him down.
Firing him won’t be enough to bring about a Saudi-Iranian reconciliation, but it’s a strong signal that Iran plans to reconsider its policies. The deputy foreign minister doesn’t set Iran’s Middle East policy, but public diplomacy, which is expressed in part through personnel decisions and official statements, has great significance.
It’s evidently no accident that in the same week Amir-Abdollahian was fired, Iran announced a deal to buy 100 passenger planes from Boeing for $25 billion, the biggest deal between Iran and the United States since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The sale must be approved by the U.S. Treasury, which is responsible for implementing U.S. sanctions against Iran.
From the American perspective this is not only an important commercial deal, but also an additional channel through which to develop relations with Iran. And that is also why it attaches great importance to an Iranian-Saudi reconciliation. ...


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