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Surprise meeting sparks talk of Rouhani-IRGC conciliation

Commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps met with President Hassan Rouhani, giving rise to speculation that the two sides are ready to bury the hatchet after a period of public feuding.

News of an unexpected meeting spread through Iranian media July 24. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders visited the presidential palace that day for a face-to-face meeting with President Hassan Rouhani, who was re-elected May 19 to a second term. The tete-a-tete caught the attention of Iranian media, which welcomed it and portrayed it as an opportunity for detente following months of heated words between the powerful IRGC and Rouhani's moderate administration.

During the meeting, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, IRGC commander, congratulated Rouhani on his re-election, saying, “The IRGC is ready for comprehensive cooperation with the administration in the realization of the goals of the revolution.” Rouhani expressed his appreciation for the “IRGC's efforts,” expressing hope that during his second term, coordination by all the armed forces will contribute to meeting the people's demands more quickly.

The president also stressed, “Unity among all forces and institutions is essential for the realization of the Supreme Leader's guidelines and serving the people.” Rouhani added that his administration will support the “IRGC's services” to the country and efforts.

Accompanying Jafari were the commanders of the Quds Force (Qasem Soleimani), IRGC Aerospace Force (Amir-Ali Hajizadeh), the paramilitary Basij (Gholam-Hossein Gheib-Parvar) and Tehran’s Sarallah Headquarters (Ismail Kowsari).

The session was notably applauded by both the Reformists and conservatives, particularly given how the IRGC and Rouhani traded barbs over various issues during the presidential campaign and even after Rouhani’s re-election. For instance, on June 22, without referring directly to the IRGC, Rouhani said the private sector had been pressured by an “armed government.” In response, on June 27, Jafari slammed Rouhani’s remarks, charging, “A government without a gun is humiliated and ultimately forced to surrender.”

Following Rouhani’s meeting with the IRGC commanders, the president’s adviser on cultural affairs, Hesamoddin Ashna, posted a picture of the session and wrote on his Telegram channel, “This is not just a picture, this is a path; calmness and progress of people and the establishment is dependent on strategic consensus between the government and the defense institutions of the country.” In this vein, on July 25, the IRGC-affiliated Javan published a report of the meeting, arguing that based on Ashna’s comments, “The government was satisfied with the meeting and its results.”

Javan added, “As some figures and local news websites and hostile foreign news wires were attempting to take advantage of some remarks [of government officials against the IRGC], such a meeting was a national necessity and strategic so that the main pillars of preserving the revolution speak in support of each other.”

Moreover, government spokesman Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht said July 25, “I don’t know about the details of the meeting, but I know that good issues were discussed. To serve the people, not only all [three] branches of power, but all [state] institutions must cooperate with each other.”

Describing the session as a positive step, the Reformist daily Shargh wrote July 25, “This meeting and the issues discussed are assessed as the end of some misunderstandings in recent weeks and is considered as a sign of more cooperation between the government and the IRGC.”

Furthermore, the Reformist Etemaad commented July 25, “We should now see whether this meeting will end the public dispute between the government and the IRGC, a meeting that was concluded with a promise by the president of the full support of the 12th government for the IRGC’s services and the IRGC’s declaration of readiness for full-scale cooperation with the government for realization of all of the goals of the Islamic Revolution.”

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