The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), which operates under President Hassan Rouhani's administration, has published a rare attack on a conservative parliamentarian, signaling that the era of the conservative media monopoly on harsh attacks against officials is coming to an end.
In a two-minute video published on their website and Twitter feed, IRNA lashed out at Javad Karimi Ghodoosi, writing that the conservative lawmaker from Mashhad “once again lied and once again [his assertions] were denied.”
The video outlined a number of Karimi Ghodoosi's accusations against the Rouhani administration, which were quickly denied or shown to be not true, including one that was denied by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In a video clip that went viral on Persian-language social media pages, Karimi Ghodoosi claimed that the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC had recorded a conversation between Rouhani and MI6 — the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom — and had shown the recordings to Rouhani. Head of public relations at the IRGC Ramazan Sharif publicly denied the claim on Feb. 25 and asked members of parliament to refrain from such accusations. According to the IRNA, this is the first time the IRGC has had to publicly deny Karimi Ghodoosi’s accusations.
The IRNA video also revealed that Karimi Ghodoosi’s claim that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s resignation had been accepted by Rouhani was just one of his “lies” this week.
After Zarif’s Instagram resignation was published late on Feb. 25, Karimi Ghodoosi claimed that Zarif had previously resigned 13 times — but that this time his “resignation has been accepted and is certain.” He said Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zanganeh would also soon resign as well as a couple of other ministers. Zarif was back at work less than 36 hours after his resignation post. When Zanganeh was asked about rumors regarding his imminent resignation, he responded with a combative expression that can be loosely translated as “Alright, game on.”
Karimi Ghodoosi is not just a rabble-rouser parliamentarian seeking notoriety. He represents in parliament powerful conservatives who have worked tirelessly to weaken the Rouhani administration. A critic of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Karimi Ghodoosi is a member of a group called the Front of Islamic Revolution Stability — often referred to as the Endurance Front. The faction’s spiritual head is hard-line cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, and it is one of the most right-wing groups in Iran.
That the IRNA has chosen to go on the offensive against Karimi Ghodoosi with such a harsh tone is a turning point in modern Iranian media — and notably comes in the wake of Zarif’s return to work.
The IRNA is a traditional news agency that operates under the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Guidance; rarely, if ever, does it engage in this type of attack. The agency typically publishes straight news reports covering the administration with a positive spin. To see them go on the offensive — a space typically reserved for conservative news site agencies that are often protected by judiciary and security agencies — is rather strange. Thus, the publication of such a video by IRNA suggests that is about to change.
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