Iran’s regime has pressed its line against foreign intervention in both Iraq and Syria, saying that local forces can defeat the Islamic State on their own.
The latest announcement came from Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, as he commented on Monday about a victory by Iraqi forces and Shia militia 60 km (37 miles) south of Baghdad.
“The mop-up operation in Jurf al-Sakhar by the Iraqi armed and volunteer forces and without foreign intervention can serve as the best example for freeing and clearing areas in Iraq and Syria of Takfiri terrorists,” Abdollahian said. “This successful operation proved that the Iraqi government and people defend their sovereignty, independence, national unity, and territorial integrity.”
Abdollahian did not refer to recent Islamic State advances in Iraq, notably the capture of towns in Anbar Province in the west of the country. Nor did he talk about the “foreign intervention” in Iraq of Iranian military commanders, such as the leader of the Qods Force, General Qassem Soleimani, or Iran’s essential military, political, and economic support of the Assad regime in Damascus.
Tehran has stepped up its rhetoric over Iraq and Syria, seeking to limit foreign involvement, after the US aerial intervention in Iraq in early August.
Meanwhile, the regime’s promotion of Soleimani continues, even if Abdollahian did not refer to him — the top story in Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, declares the general is “leading Iraqi forces to victory”.
Hardliners Continue Fight Against Former President Rafsanjani
In a sign of the growing battle between hardliners and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani — and thus the Rouhani Government — Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami has insisted that Rafsanjani will never again head the Assembly of Experts.
The leadership of the Assembly, which chooses and nominally can dismiss the Supreme Leader, became vacant earlier this month when Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani died after a four-month coma.
Rafsanjani led the Assembly from 2007 to 2011, when his loss to Mahdavi Kani was seen by some as a final eclipse of his influence.
Khatami is a member of the Assembly and a Tehran Friday Prayer leader noted for his vehement denunciation of enemies inside and outside Iran.
He pointed towards Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroundi, the interim head of the Assembly, as the preferable candidate in the election which is likely in early 2015. He also indicated that Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani, one of Tehran’s Friday Prayer leaders and another reported favorite of hardliners, would be acceptable.
He then said, “As far as I know Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani has said in some meetings that he has not interests in the chairmanship.”
Isfahan Governor: We Have Arrested 10 Suspects Over Acid Attacks Against Women
Shifting their position, Iranian officials say they have apprehended 10 men over a series of acid attacks against women this month in Isfahan.
“So far, ten suspects have been identified with respect to acid attack in the province, who are being interrogated by the police,” Isfahan Provincial Governor Rasoul Zargarpour said on Monday.
Last Friday, an Isfahan security official said only one man was responsible for all the attacks.
Zargarpour, saying there were four attacks from September 6 to October 15, insisted that the incidents had nothing to do with women wearing improper hijab.
The victims have indicated that they were challenged over their dress and behavior.
In September, the paramilitary group Ansar-e Hezbollah said it would resume “moral policing”. The Rouhani Government objected, but earlier this month Parliament passed a bill protecting those who challenge “un-Islamic” public activity.
Last Wednesday, thousands of Iranians protested in Isfahan and Tehran over the attacks and the Parliamentary bill.
Iran’s Conflicting Signals on Extension of Nuclear Talks Beyond November 24
The Iranian regime has given out yet more conflicting signals on the possibility of an extensive of nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) beyond November 24.
The two sides are seeking a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the expiry of interim arrangements. The main issue is the number and level of Iran’s centrifuges for uranium enrichment, and there are also gaps over the duration of an agreement and the timing of the removal of US-led sanctions on Tehran.
An unnamed member of Iran’s negotiating team said on Monday, “The extension of the negotiations is not on the agenda. All the attention is focused on the serious continuation of the negotiations until November 24.”
Last weekend, the Supreme Leader’s top advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, hinted that Tehran would welcome an extension to prevent a halt to the discussions, saying the Islamic Republic would not be the first country to step away from the negotiating table: “We are confident that in the end, even if Iran-P+1 negotiations last for a long time, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be the winner.”
However, President Rouhani asserted on Monday that an extension should not be necessary. He said in a photo opportunity with the Norwegian Ambassador, “If [Iran’s] negotiating partners also show the necessary political resolve, it will be possible to reach a comprehensive agreement within a month.”
By EA WorldView
The Iran Project is not responsible for the content of quoted articles.