In a Tuesday meeting with senior commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (Sepah), the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei stated two issues in Iran’s internal and foreign policy grounds in an unprecedented clear-cut tone: that the Sepah should not necessarily step in political affairs of the country and that the he would favor a “heroic flexible” foreign policy approach.
According to the informed sources talked to Iran’sView, the new Iranian President, Hassan Rowhani, perceived to have won the June-14 elections by his moderation promises, is said to have requested the Leader to give him a modest free hand in the country’s foreign policy affairs, including the prolonged nuclear standoff, so that he will be able to tackle the Islamic Republic’s economic problems to some extent.
It is years now that Tehran is at odds with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) over its nuclear case due to irreconcilable views of the negotiating sides.
According to a Rouhani aide who has spoke to Iran’sView on condition of anonymity, he has promised the Supreme Leader he will be able to scrape a large part of the stifling sanctions imposed on Iran without damaging the nature of its nuclear program provided that the Leader permits the president to act more flexibly in the talks with the P5+1.
“I would agree with what I once called ‘heroic flexibility’, as it is a proper move at times,” said the Leader during his address to the Sepah commanders on Tuesday, seems to be an explicitly agreeing to the administration’s request. However, he cautioned the president to be wary of the “other side and the chief objective” in the talks while being more flexible.
Though this was not the first time the Supreme Leader spoke of “heroic flexibility”.
“Artistic and heroic flexibility, softness and maneuver are accepted and welcome in all political grounds,” said the Leader in another meeting a fortnight ago with members of the Assembly of Experts. “But maneuvers should not be interpreted as a leave to cross the red lines or step back of fundamental strategies or neglecting the ideals.”
The Leader of Iran is still suspicious about the flexibility in international dealings of the new administration as it might be induced to cross some red lines (like direct and comprehensive talks with the US) or retreat from fundamental strategies of the Islamic Republic (like supporting Palestinian cause and the Syrian government as part of the resistance front).
The Leader once again reminded the administration in his Tuesday speech that it is not allowed to neglect the “objectives and ideals” of the Islamic Revolution with excuses like “The world or the trends has changed.”
According to political observers in Tehran, the Supreme Leader has allowed the administration to expand ties with European countries, engage in direct talks with the US over the Syrian conflict, and show more flexibility in nuclear talks. The Leader has decided to let Rouhani have his try in various fields, even though he (the Leader) is not optimistic about the West’s reaction to Iran’s flexible tone; which is why the Leader stressed in his Tuesday speech that the US and the West are seeking much greatest goals in Iran’s nuclear case and that it should be taken in and well analyzed by “challenging the hegemonic system by the Islamic Revolution”.
“We do not approve of nuclear weapons not because of the US or others, but because of our beliefs; when we say no one can have nuclear weapons, we would never seek such weapons ourselves; the dissenters of Iran are after something else. These countries would never let their nuclear energy monopoly be broken,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on Tuesday.
“Diplomacy is the field of smile and calls for talks and negotiations; however, all these should be defined in the framework of our major challenge.”
Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly cautioned the new administration against the Islamic Republic’s red lines and fundamentals while exhibiting flexibility in its foreign dealings. In his earlier speech addressing members of the Assembly of Experts, the Leader certified that every “administration or person has their own methods and innovations, and are allowed to practice them in their work.”
As a key player in Iran’s power struggle during the past 34 years, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, or Sepah, has aligned itself well with the Supreme Leader’s directions, and stood up to administrations which fail to follow the Leader’s directions. Besides, the construction projects as well as economic activities run by the Sepah are a powerful lever that can help every administration to materialize their domestic policies; which may be why the President Rowhani addressed Sepah commanders a day before the Leader to ask them to support the administration economically.
With regard to Rowhani’s concerns about acceptance of his “flexible” policies by Sepah commanders, the Supreme Leader called on Sepah top brass to temporarily step out of politics and view the developments from outside.
“Sepah is not required to meddle in political grounds, but guardianship of the Revolution needs precise understanding of realities,” the Leader said on Tuesday.
“The organization that is deemed as the Revolution’s guardian arm cannot be expected to be alien to derivative political currents,” said the Leader, stressing that under the current circumstances Sepah must, of course, identify and counter all adversaries of the Islamic Republic.
The Leader is evidently giving the administration a free hand to remedy the country’s economic and political headache by putting into effect its innovations. Likewise the Leader would be happy see that his strategic decision has helped the administration manage to fulfill its promises and receive a palatable feedback from foreigners. However, if the government fails to get the desired response from the West by being more flexible, just like the Reformist administration of Mohammad Khatami, the Leader’s warnings and pessimism against the US and enemies will be well substantiated.
“The revolution’s future is glorious for sure, but the time of its happening depends of the performance of the nation and officials. If we are united, integrated and decisive, such a future is soon realized, but if we are infested with indolence, arrogance and other such stuff, that future will be late to come.” Ayatollah Khamenei said to the top commanders of Sepah.