Friday , 3 February 2023

Khamenei heaps praise on Iranian administration

Al-Monitor – In a meeting with administration officials, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for the government’s efforts this past year.

Speaking Aug. 30, Khamenei said that that the biggest achievement of the Raisi administration’s first year in office has been “awakening hope and trust within the people.” Khamenei said that people can see this administration is “busy working to solve problems and providing services” to the people. He added that these efforts have led to “public trust and hope.” Khamenei also conceded that while some of the Raisi administration’s efforts have come to fruition, there are areas that have not “yet reached a desirable result.” 

He did not provide objective measures by which he based his criteria. However, the public statement from Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, particularly on foreign policy, is an important sign of support for the Raisi administration. President Ebrahim Raisi was elected in a process that almost guaranteed his victory, with many well known Reformists figures barred from running altogether.

Khamenei has clashed with all of Iran’s presidents during his time as supreme leader, even those he enthusiastically supported at first, such as former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad tangled during the latter’s second term, ultimately leaving Ahmadinejad a somewhat fringe political dissident with a small following. He also had disagreements with Hassan Rouhani, who bet his entire presidential career on nuclear negotiations with the West. During the end of his second term, it became clear that Rouhani had lost control of the nuclear file and much else domestically as well. And Mohammad Khatami is essentially in political exile for supporting, or rather not condemning, the 2009 presidential election outcomes, which led to protests.     

Khamenei’s support is crucial as the administration is engaged in nuclear negotiations. Currently Iran is reviewing the US proposal to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the United States exited in 2018. This current proposal is based on a European effort to mediate between the two sides. Iran had recently handed over its own proposal. There are still a number of outstanding issues not yet resolved. 

During a press conference in Moscow today, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran is reviewing the US proposal and that Iran “needs more powerful guarantees.” He did not specify, but Iran is concerned that a future Republican president would leave the nuclear deal once again. The Biden administration cannot offer guarantees beyond its presidency, due to the nature of the US sanctions via executive orders. Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran is currently trying to think of ways to reach those guarantees, which could be viewed as an admission that it may not see them come to fruition.