Al-monitor – On Jan. 30, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to the podium to state that independence is not equivalent to isolation — remarks that can be interpreted as a response to hard-liners’ continued criticism of the government’s foreign policy.
Rouhani, who was speaking at the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum ahead of the 38th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, said, “Independence doesn’t mean isolation, and it means the absence of the domination of others over the destiny of the country.”
He added, “We are neither xenophiles nor xenophobes … we are Muslim, revolutionary and Iranian.”
Rouhani went on to say, “With the guidance of the supreme leader, we engage in constructive engagement with the world to the benefit of our people and the national interest.”
Noting the upcoming May 2017 presidential election, he said, “We have an important test before history in the months ahead, and the dear people of Iran will go to the ballot box to shape another epic.”
It should be noted that since Rouhani came to the office in 2013, which was surprising and unexpected, as he wasn’t a high-profile politician known by most people, hard-liners have been attacking him, accusing him of bowing to the West and not being harsh to the United States over its “violation” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In a direct hit at Rouhani, Mohsen Rezaei, a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander and Rouhani’s rival in the 2013 presidential election, tweeted Jan. 30, “If one gets angry over the criticisms of those inside the country, and one smiles at the obstructionism of foreigners, this means that there is a problem.”
Moreover, on Jan. 30, judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani asked Rouhani to learn a lesson from the “bitter” experience of the JCPOA.
Hinting at US President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order to ban the entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Larijani argued, “I ask the government, president and especially the Foreign Ministry to take lessons from experiences such as the important and bitter experience of the JCPOA, and show a decisive, appropriate and proportional reaction to the unbalanced, illogical and inhumane behavior of the United States.”
It is noteworthy that Rouhani and Larijani have in recent months repeatedly traded barbs over a series of issues. In the latest clash, Larijani accused Rouhani of having received money from notorious billionaire Babak Zanjani, who has been sentenced to death on corruption-related charges, during the 2013 presidential election.
Larijani said, “The Islamic Republic doesn’t seek influence [in the region]; rather, it is the values of the Islamic revolution that have found their way to the region. When people of the region see the behavior of hegemonic regimes and witness the commitment of the Islamic Republic to its humane and ethical principles and support for the oppressed and poor people, they automatically become interested in these values.”
The Iranian judiciary chief added, “Domination and influence will not come to exist through the dispatch of a few [Iranian] experts to other countries. If this was the case, the Americans would have had influence in Iraq and Afghanistan with all the equipment and tools they have. Instead, the Islamic Republic’s influence is spiritual and faith-like.”
Furthermore, in an interview with the semi-official ISNA news agency published on Jan. 30, Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi said, “We have had no talks with Trump’s team and there have been no plans for doing so, and there is currently no plan for engagement [with Trump’s administration] in the future.”