Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has designated him as “the commander” in the “economic and psychological war” waged by “the enemy”.
Rouhani was speaking during a trip to northern Gilan province, where he insisted that Khamenei has given him the responsibility to take the lead in economic affairs and has asked the judiciary and legislature to render him all assistance needed.
Khamenei so far has not made such an announcement. Rouhani spoke about a meeting with the Supreme Leader and others in which he pledged to be “the representative of the Iranian people” in the war waged by “the enemy”.
Iranian officials use the term “enemy” for the United States and sometimes for Israel. In his speech Rouhani also directly named the United States “and its allies”.
"Iran is in economic and psychological war with America and its allies. Their aim is to change the regime, but their wish will not come true," Rouhani said.
"There is no possibility of entering negotiations with America," Rouhani said in the speech broadcast live on state television. "America wants to take Iran back to 40 years ago ... to the era before the (1979 Islamic) Revolution...They want regime change."
Tensions between the Rouhani administration and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as well as clerical and other hardliners have been evident recently.
In 2017, Rouhani called on the military to disengage from economic affairs and Khamenei later also made a similar call. But the IRGC has maintained its vast business empire and at times has asked to be given a larger role in the economy.
Hardliners have also blocked Rouhani’s efforts in joining international conventions against money-laundering and financing of terrorism.