With the nuclear negotiations possibly extending a few days past its June 30 deadline, Iranian media outlets are preparing for what they believe will be a historic deal. But this eagerness has concerned Iran’s leading hard-line newspaper, Kayhan, known for making veiled threats against Reformists and supporters of the Hassan Rouhani administration.
Kayhan’s editorial June 29, under the byline of Hossein Shamsian, said that “distorting reality and flipping upside down the truth is one of the most effective methods to deviating a society and influencing public opinion.” Shamsian called the nuclear negotiations “one of the most historic encounters with our nation's No. 1 enemy, meaning America.”
“While the soldiers on the diplomatic front, with the backing of a nation have sat across an enemy, some, instead of having sympathy for them, play another tune,” Shamsian wrote. He said this group tries “to depict an angel … instead of the Great Satan.” Shamsian said the problem with this depiction is that “when you are sitting across [from] an angel, you have no reason to not trust or resist against its wants.”
Shamsian did not refer to any particular media, but almost all of Iran’s Reformist media covered the nuclear talks on their front pages today, with many depicting Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s sudden trip back to Tehran for consultations in a positive light.
To back up his claim about some media showing the United States in a positive way, Shamsian quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's June 27 speech when he said, “Those who are trying to depict a good face of this monster [America] are committing treason, are committing a crime … Our country and our nation needs to know the enemy, to understand the depth of the enmity.”
Shamsian accused the media that depicts a friendly face of the United States of either “directly or indirectly taking its policy from the enemies of the Islamic Revolution.” He also noted that they are quick to blame sanctions for Iran’s economic troubles but won’t write about America’s role in applying those sanctions, or sometimes these media cover favorably the potential for Western investors but will not cover American officials warning Western companies about doing business with Iran before sanctions are lifted.
Most ominously, Shamsian also quoted a 2000 speech by Ayatollah Khamenei about some media being “the bases of the enemy.” That speech led to a wave of closures of Reformist newspapers. While it seems unlikely for now that a wave of newspaper closures is on the horizon, the final resolution to a decadeslong dispute and the easing of tensions with the United States has some Iranian conservatives worried.
Many of these conservatives have tied their policies and identities to the United States being an enemy country, and the frequency with which Iranian officials from the Rouhani administration meet with American officials and the prospects of Western, or even American, companies investing in Iran is a cause for alarm for them.