After months of bitter exchanges, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders and Iran President Hassan Rouhani met to "eliminate apprehension", IRGC Chief Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said in an interview with state-run TV IRIB on September 27.
The IRGC strongmen's meeting with President Rouhani took place on July 24, weeks after the incumbent was declared the winner of the May 19 presidential election, beating his main challenger reportedly backed by the IRGC.
The two sides had apparently agreed to meet each other by some tacit recommendation by the supreme leader.
The only official photo released after the meeting shows Rouhani alone, while all the IRGC top commanders are facing him in full force.
[Those who are running the government] are incapable of employing people for eliminating crises and financial problems, as well as implementing ‘economic resistance.
The meeting was critical, Jafari admitted, noting without any elaboration, “The characteristics of the situation after the presidential election necessitated such action [tete- a-tete meeting Rouhani in full force].”
Therefore, Jafari maintained, “We met the president and expressed our apprehensions and he welcomed [discussing IRGC’s concerns]".
Jafari referred to “creating unity,” “coherence,” and “preventing division among the [Islamic] revolutionary forces” as the main topics the IRGC top commanders discussed with Rouhani.
“It was a critical discussion, but he (Rouhani) welcomed it since it was an honest one and based on integrity,” Jafari asserted. “Rouhani’s response to us (our requests) was positive.”
Still without any elaboration, Jafari claimed that, since the meeting, everything between the president and the IRGC has smoothly gone forward.
The meeting on July 24 took place after weeks of saber rattling and a bitter war of words between the incumbent and IRGC commanders who, it was widely believed, had supported Rouhani’s main conservative challenger, mid-ranking cleric, Ebrahim Raeisi.
The generals at the meeting were Jafari, Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, IRGC Aerospace Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Basij Commander Gholam-Hossein Gheybparvar, and deputy chief of Sarallah security base in Tehran, Esmaeil Kousari.
The senior commanders were ostensibly there to congratulate Rouhani on his victory in the May presidential election.
“Unity among all forces is essential to realize the guidelines of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and also to serve the people,” Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, quoted Rouhani as saying.
While “appreciating IRGC forces' efforts in their assigned capacity,” Rouhani expressed his “hope for armed forces attempts to serve the needs of the people,” IRNA reported.
Meanwhile, the IRGC-backed news agency, Tasnim, reported, "Rouhani appreciated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its services to the country and highlighted his administration’s full support for the services provided by the IRGC.”
According to Tasnim, Jafari congratulated Rouhani on his re-election and voiced the IRGC’s readiness for “all-out cooperation” with the administration to materialize the “objectives of the Islamic Revolution.”
Besides interchanging such pleasantries mixed with mild sarcasm, little detail concerning the gathering has been published so far.
However, reactions to the gathering were rosy with a trace of caution on both sides.
“This is not an image, it’s a course; [a course on the way to] freedom, security, peace, and progress for the people as well as for the system, which depends on strategic unity between the government and the defensive forces of the country as a whole,” said Rouhani’s cultural adviser, Hesameddin Ashena, on his Telegram channel.
Iran’s newspapers have widely reported and welcomed the gathering. The daily Shahrvand praised the meeting on its banner headline as a “milestone.”
Another pro-government daily, Sharq, described the gathering as “the end of some of recent weeks’ misunderstandings that heralds more cooperation between the government and the IRGC.”
However, in his latest comments, the IRGC top commander once again targeted the government.
A day after describing the outcome of the meeting with Rouhani as productive and based on mutual understanding, Jafari accused the government of inefficiency and incapability.
“[Those who are running the government] are incapable of employing people for eliminating crises and financial problems, as well as implementing ‘economic resistance, " Tasnim cited Jafari as saying on September 28.
Jafari insisted that calls for resistance, not only in defense and security matters but in all fields, have fallen on deaf ears.
Addressing Khamenei as “Imam” and the “Guardian of the Islamic Jurists” who has repeatedly stated similar comments, the IRGC commander lamented, “Yet, some people insist on their own comments and continue going forward on their wrong path.”
Rouhani and his cabinet ministers have not yet reacted to the commander’s latest comments.