Imam Hussein University, which is affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has issued two separate public statements in a week warning officials in Hassan Rouhani's administration about its foreign policy and the nuclear negotiations. The statements came shortly after a public visit by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader who addressed the college in front of some of the IRGC’s top commanders.
The June 1 letter signed by the school's “professors, students and staff” used the occasion of anniversary of the death of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to review his last message about foreign policy to draw parallels in dealing with “world powers,” specifically, the United States.
The letter, which was not addressed to anyone in particular but referenced “some friends of the revolution and officials of the Islamic Republic,” stated that Khomeini viewed Iran’s lack of progress a specific plan of the United States and the United Kingdom. Therefore, anyone who has optimism toward these countries has a “simplistic” view of world events.
The letter accused some officials of advocating a policy that “is opposed to the fundamental principles of Imam [Khomeini] in foreign policy” and ignores “the daily crimes of Israel, America and Saudi Arabia.” The letter rejected that a hard-line foreign policy would allow the West to create an image of Iran seeking war or would increase Iran phobia in the West. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has on various occasions criticized the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration for its harsh rhetoric, blaming him for increasing Iran’s international isolation and adding to a negative world image of Iranians.
The letter stated that Khomeini had a foreign policy that the people themselves wanted and he was ready to “pay the costs” to lead his people but “in the last few years, in society and political and university environment of the country, a bunch of quasi-intellectual analysis is presented that the Iranian people, both implicitly and explicitly, are gluttonous, have low tolerance and are impatient.”
The letter also warned that the top political and economic officials of the Rouhani administration in making comments that could compromise the prestige or power of Iran. After taking office in August 2013, a number of Rouhani’s ministers immediately warned about the dire economic circumstances of their ministry’s when they took over.
The letter warned officials that “before it’s too late, to return to the real path of the people” and those who don’t “are not far away from the eyes” of the IRGC. The rare letter and its harsh language has surprised many, especially since it came one week after an Imam Hussein University public relations statement May 24 that expressed support for Khamenei’s May 20 comments at the university about refusing inspection of military sites or to allow Iran’s nuclear scientists to be interviewed as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal.
As the June 30 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany approaches, Iran’s hard-liners have become more vocal about key points in the deal. While not opposing a deal outright, since Khamenei still approves of the process of the negotiations, hard-liners have warned about the “excessive demands” of the United States in the nuclear talks.