Tehran’s outspoken MP, Ali Motahari, has lambasted the chief commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for recent comments on the possibility of Tehran-Washington rapprochement.
“On issues like negotiating with the United States, the IRGC should obey the establishment’s decision,” Motahari said on August 2.
On July 31, IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari had dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump's tentative offer of talks with Tehran, saying Iran was not like North Korea.
Trump had announced on July 30 that he would be willing to meet Iran's leader without preconditions to discuss how to improve ties after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
"Mr. Trump! Iran is not North Korea to accept your offer for a meeting," Jafari was quoted as saying by the Fars News agency. "Even U.S. presidents after you will not see that day."
In his open letter to Trump, Jafari went further, saying, “The Iranian nation has many differences with those nations that submit to domination, and will never allow its authorities to hold talks and meetings with the Great Satan,” referring to the United States.
Speaking at a White House news conference on July 30, Trump had said, “I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet.” Asked if he had any preconditions for such a meeting, Trump replied, “No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”
Trump’s offer of talks came only days after he cautioned Iran in a tweet responding to President Hassan Rouhani’s earlier vitriolic comment effectively threatening Washington and said, “You will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”
Responding to the tentative offer, IRGC-run Fars cited Jafari as saying, “Former U.S. presidents learned better than Trump that Iran and its people could not be threatened, and that they would instead close their ranks and strengthen their unity against any foreign threat and pressure."
“You will take to the grave the dream of Iranian officials asking you for a meeting or getting the permission to meet you from their nation. You will never live to see that day,” Jafari said.
Motahari, renowned for not mincing his words, has dismissed Jafari’s remarks as unwarranted, reiterating, “You [Gen.] and our other good ‘mujahid’ brothers in IRGC are aware of the fact that in issues concerning talks with the United States, or refrain from any negotiations with it, IRGC should obey the decision made by top authorities of the regime and avoid making personal comments.”
Moreover, Motahari added, “Making comments on behalf of the nation is the responsibility of the person elected by the people, i.e. the president, and nobody in other positions is entitled to do that.”
Referring to guidelines issued by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the deputy speaker also said, “Military personnel are banned from engagement in political affairs.”
Motahari’s open letter to Jafari was published before Iran's supreme leader and President Hassan Rouhani had responded to Trump’s offer.
In the meantime, several pro-reform political figures, including the spokesman of former President Mohammad Khatami, have joined voices with Motahari in rebuking Jafari for his comments.
“Based on the constitution, military forces are subservient to the orders of the Supreme National Security Council [headed by the president], and they do not have the right to set the political agenda for the country,” said Abdollah Ramazanzadeh.
However, several political heavyweights close to Rouhani, including a member of the influential Expediency Discerning Council, former speaker, and mid-ranking cleric Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, have insisted that Tehran should not talk to Washington.
Nonetheless, on July 31, the U.S. president told a rally in Tampa, Florida, “I have a feeling they [Iranians] will be talking to us pretty soon -- And maybe not, and that’s OK, too.”