Iran de­fends Guards in show of unity

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

BEIRUT: Iran’s pres­i­dent gave a fullthroated de­fense of his one-time ri­vals in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards on Wednesday, as the coun­try’s prag­ma­tist and hard-line fac­tions ral­lied to­gether in the face of threats from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Trump is ex­pected to “de­cer­tify” Iran’s nu­clear deal with global pow­ers this week and add its Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards mil­i­tary force to Washington’s black­list of ter­ror­ist groups un­der a strat­egy to in­crease pres­sure on Tehran.

The threat of US ac­tion has united the two main fac­tions of Iran’s lead­er­ship, with the prag­ma­tists led by Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani who seek greater open­ness to the West demon­strat­ing their sup­port for the hard-line Guards.

Dur­ing a Cab­i­net meet­ing shown on state tele­vi­sion on Wednesday, Rouhani said US ac­tion against the Guards would be a “mis­take be­yond mis­takes.”

“They think that the Guards are a mil­i­tary en­tity. The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards are not a mil­i­tary en­tity. They’re in the heart of the peo­ple. The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, in all the days of dan­ger, have de­fended our national in­ter­ests,” he said.

“We’re one so­ci­ety. We’re Iran. There are no dif­fer­ences be­tween dif­fer­ent fac­tions in con­fronting the plots of our en­e­mies,” he added.

Rouhani, the ar­chi­tect of Iran’s 2015 deal with global pow­ers to curb its nu­clear pro­gram in re­turn for the lift­ing of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions, won re-elec­tion in a land­slide five months ago on a plat­form promis­ing greater open­ness to the world and re­form at home.

Dur­ing an un­prece­dent­edly bitter cam­paign, he re­peat­edly spoke out in pub­lic against the po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence of the Guards, ac­cus­ing them of back­ing his hard-line op­po­nent to de­fend their eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

In re­cent days, how­ever, the threat of new ac­tion from Washington has prompted a pub­lic dis­play of unity from the ri­val fac­tions among Iran's rulers.

“To­day, the pres­i­dent of Amer­ica has cre­ated con­di­tions where Iran is more united than ever. To­day, those who op­pose the nu­clear deal and those who sup­port it are side by side. We all have one voice,” Rouhani said.

News­pa­pers on Tues­day ran pic­tures of the ur­bane, US-ed­u­cated For­eign Min­is­ter Javad Zarif laugh­ing and hugging the com­man­der of the guards, Maj.-Gen. Mo­ham­mad Ali Ja­fari.

Zarif brief law­mak­ers on Wednesday about the ex­pected US ac­tion and about Iran’s plans for a re­sponse, ac­cord­ing to mem­bers of par­lia­ment quoted in state me­dia.

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