Ayatollah rebuffs Rouhani’s detente policy
LONDON: Iranians should not thank Hassan Rouhani’s policy of detente with the West for any reduction in the threat of war, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday, stepping up his criticisms of the president as elections approach.
In comments that appeared to favour hardline candidates in the May 19 vote, Khamenei played down the benefits of Rouhani’s landmark agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for a lifting of international sanctions.
“Since they took office, some have said the shadow of war has faded away.
“This is not correct. It’s been people’s presence in the political scene that has removed the shadow of war from the country,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by state media.
Khamenei and his hardline supporters have also criticised the nuclear deal, which stifled talk by Washington of possible military action against Iran, for failing to deliver promised economic benefits.
But, speaking at the opening of a refinery that Iran said would make it self-sufficient in oil products, Rouhani defended his position.
“The nuclear deal was a national achievement. We should make use of its advantages.
“But, some have started a fight over it,” Rouhani said.
He cited the new refinery, in the Gulf port city of Bandar Abbas, as a result of the deal and “interaction with the world”.
One of his main challengers, Ebrahim Raisi, an influential ulama with decades of experience in the hardline judiciary, said Iran did not need foreign help to improve the economy and could always defend itself.
“We should not warn our people of wars and crises. We have full security in the country.
“This approach, that we should wait for foreign investment and for foreigners to resolve our issues, is wrong.
“This is wrong, to wait years and years for foreign investors to come.
“We should resolve issues by relying on domestic capabilities,” Raisi said. Reuters