President Hassan Rouhani held a press conference Jan. 17 to mark the first anniversary of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Responding to a question about Iran’s response to US President-elect Donald Trump’s threats to either scrap the nuclear deal or renegotiate it, Rouhani said, “[Holding] new negotiations is meaningless,” adding, “There will be no [new] negotiations on the JCPOA.”
Rouhani continued, “Mr. Trump has not expressed satisfaction with the Iran nuclear deal so far and has said the deal is not a good deal. … These claims are nothing but a slogan.” Stressing that the accord is multilateral and involves six world powers and Iran, Rouhani said, “The JCPOA is not something that someone in another country, following his election as president, decides whether he likes or dislikes it. The JCPOA has created a new global environment and it should be taken care of with prudence. It is a win-win deal.”
Meanwhile, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri is turning into the new target of Iranian hard-liners following the death of moderate Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the leader of the moderation camp.
Nategh-Nuri is a moderate politician and a figure respected by both Reformists and conservatives. In the 2005 presidential election, he had the responsibility of mobilizing the conservatives and forging a coalition ahead of the voting. However, despite his efforts, none of the conservative candidates — including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then mayor of Tehran, and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the current mayor — heeded the coalition's final decision asking all nominees to withdraw in favor of Ali Larijani, the current speaker of parliament. Afterward, Nategh-Nuri gradually left the leadership of the conservative camp.
Nategh-Nuri’s decision to abandon the conservative camp became clear when Ahmadinejad accused him and his sons of corruption during the televised presidential debates in 2009, with none of his conservative friends condemning Ahmadinejad over his remarks. In the 2013 presidential election, along with Rafsanjani, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini (the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) and former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, he played a significant role in Rouhani's victory.
Nategh-Nuri’s close relationship with Rafsanjani, who died Jan. 8, is no secret in Iranian politics, as their friendship went back over five decades.
At a Jan. 15 memorial for Rafsanjani held at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, Nategh-Nuri was the keynote speaker. “Hashemi [Rafsanjani] wasn’t opposed [to the Islamic Republic], he was the pillar of the [1979 Islamic] Revolution. … It is really bad that when figures are alive, we insult them, and when they are gone, we mourn for them,” said Nategh-Nuri, referring to the harsh attacks of hard-liners against Rafsanjani and their change of stance toward him following his death.
Describing Rafsanjani as “oppressed” because of the hard-liners’ position against him, Nategh-Nuri, who currently heads the supreme leader’s Inspection Office, added, “Now God only knows who is next [in line to become the target of hard-liner attacks].”
In reaction to Nategh-Nuri’s speech, Kayhan newspaper, known as the mouthpiece of hard-liners, wrote Jan. 15 that the Reformists are attempting to deceive him.
“Mr. Nategh talked about the great cruelty against Hashemi, but he didn’t mention the greater cruelty against the nation and the Islamic Republic during the 2009 sedition and proxy unrests and the unfair lie about ballot rigging,” wrote Kayhan. Of note, the 2009 presidential elections, which led to the re-election of Ahmadinejad, triggered widespread protests in Iran that are described as “sedition” by conservatives.
On Jan. 16, the hard-line Raja News, which is close to the Endurance Front led by Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah Yazdi —Rafsanjani’s old rival — also adopted a harsh stance, writing, “The loser to Khatami believes that the Reformists want to choose him as their sheikh and leader” (Khatami defeated Nategh-Nuri in the 1997 presidential election).
Reformist analyst Hassan Rasouli believes the cause of the uptick in attacks against Nategh-Nuri isn’t because of his speech at Rafsanjani’s memorial. Rather, Rasouli said Jan. 17 that the attacks “are rooted in the approach adopted by Nategh during recent years.”
On Jan. 17, Mohsen Gharavian, a cleric based in the holy city of Qom, said, “Inside the country, we have figures such as Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, Nategh-Nuri and Hassan Rouhani who are the disciples of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani’s school of thought, and in my view, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani’s way, notions and ideas must be followed.”
Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
- The award-winning Middle East Lobbying - The Influence Game
- Archived articles
- Exclusive events
- The Week in Review
- Lobbying newsletter delivered weekly