A Campaign of Media Deception
Meanwhile, Iran has continued its charm offensive, led by its two “superstars,” President Hassan Rouhani
and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The two were especially in evidence at the economic conference in Davos and at the security conference in Munich. Both officials gave wide-ranging interviews to the Western media, which continues to portray them as heralds of a new Iranian approach that began when Rouhani was elected. Iran is essentially implementing a sophisticated media deception campaign, just as Rouhani is continuing to pursue nuclear deception. Having been a nuclear negotiator in 2003, Rouhani moved on to the presidency in 2013 and is prepared to lead Iran to the nuclear finish line. In one interview with the German media, Zarif implied that if the Palestinians were to reach an agreement with Israel, Iran would accept and even recognize Israel.
These words were headlined in the world media
as another indication of Iran’s “new thinking” and changed foreign policy. Yet, whereas Za
the German public, he and other Iranian officials flatly denied the words’ ostensible import and affirmed that there had been no change in policy toward the “Zionist regime” –
avowals that the world media simply ignored. As Zarif himself put it:
Iran’s position regarding its refusal to recognize the Zionist regime has not changed at all, and no part of my words can be taken to mean this….What
I said in these interviews aimed to explain the reasons for prolonged crisis in the Middle East due to the violation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, in particular their right to determine their own future, form an independent government and for the displaced people to return to their motherland. We have insisted on these in all negotiations and interviews,
and said that they should not seek excuses to justify the crimes of the Zionist regime….Of course such
mischievous acts are not unusual, given how desperate the Zionists feel in the face of the
active foreign policy. However, domestic political circles and media are expected to avoid spreading rumors.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi, who rejected media reports about Za
statements as untrue,
said: “In a phone conversation that I had with Mr. Zarif,
he completely rejected the remarks attributed to
him and declared that Iran’s stance about the [Zionist] regime is what has been repeatedly announced by the country’s diplomacy apparatus and this stance has not changed.” Iranian Majlis members wanted to
summon Zarif and grill him over his interviews with German media in early February, where he termed the
Holocaust as a “horrifying tragedy” that “should never occur again.”
Majlis member Qasem Ja’fari has maintained that Zarif said in those interviews that “the recognition or failure to recognize Israel has nothing to do with us….Zarif’s statements are contradictory to the principles of the political system because Imam
Khomeini termed the Zionist regime [Israel] a cancerous tumor and the supreme leader (Khamenei) has called it a bastard and, to date, the [Islamic] political system has sustained high costs to confront the
recognition of that regime.”
In any event, Zarif did not appear at the slated Majlis National Security and
Foreign Policy Committee meeting to answer Majlis members’ questions.
A Historical Hostility
As the Vienna talks approached, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
just as he had before the round in November
expressed pessimism but said he was not against holding the talks. Khamenei again attacked
the United States and its “historically hostile” stance toward Iran, which, he claimed, has not changed.
Khamenei made similar remarks on February 11 for the thirty-fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution. On several occasions Khamenei, along with Foreign Ministry spokesmen, asserted that the nuclear issue is nothing but an ongoing pretext for the United States, which will find another pretext
even if it is resolved. He said the Foreign Ministry’s mission –
that is, the nuclear talks
and Iran would not renege on its promises, even though “I say that the thing is unnecessary and the talks will not lead anywhere….But the Foreign
Ministry people will continue the effort.” Khamenei took that opportunity to aver that Iranians’ massive turnout for the Revolution Day processions had dealt a “crushing blow” to U.S. policy and goals and exposed its “real face,” including the fact that i
t will never renounce its hostility and hatred toward Iran.