Friday , 19 July 2024

Iranian Government Unaware of IRGC Retaliatory Attack, Ex-Minister Reveals

Iranwire – A former minister has revealed that the administration of former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not informed in advance of a retaliatory attack on an American base following the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

Former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has disclosed fresh insights into the day of the Ukrainian plane’s downing by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in his recently published book.

In his recently published memoirs titled “Payab Shakibaei,” Zarif sheds light on his eight-year tenure as Foreign Minister in Tehran.

He reveals that neither he nor President Hassan Rouhani were aware of the IRGC attack on January 8, 2020, at an American airbase in Iraq until they learned of it through television news.

On January 8, 2020, Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 was hit by two missiles fired by the IRGC amid heightened tension with the United States following the US drone assassination of top IRGC general Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad.

All 176 passengers and crew were killed. Most of them were citizens from Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Ukraine, which created a coordination group that seeks to hold the Islamic Republic to account.

In 2022, the four countries took the Islamic Republic to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

The Iranian authorities attributed the tragedy to an “unintentional human error.”

The IRGC missile attack on the Al-Assad base was a retaliatory measure following the operation targeting Soleimani.

Soleimani’s killing occurred on the outskirts of Baghdad under the supervision of Donald Trump, the President of the United States.

Zarif’s account in his book illustrates how the Iranian government was excluded from daily affairs by the IRGC, emphasizing the substantial influence wielded by the IRGC soldiers in critical national decisions.

“At approximately 4:30 AM, I received a message from Dr. [Abbas] Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister, regarding the attack on Al-Assad. The Secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council roused Dr Araghchi from his sleep around 3:00 AM and tasked him with delivering a message to the United States via the Swiss Ambassador, who safeguards American interests in Iran. Remarkably, he managed to awaken the Swiss ambassador at such an early hour and convey the message,” Zarif wrote.

The most astonishing aspect of this narrative is the deliberate exclusion of Rouhani and Zarif from the knowledge of the American base’s attack.

Prime Minister of Iraq, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, had been briefed on the matter through the secretariat the night prior and informed the United States even before Iran’s President and Foreign Minister were notified of the IRGC’s decision to launch missiles.

“America was informed of the attack by the Iraqi Prime Minister before Iran’s President and Foreign Minister. While it was appropriate to inform the Prime Minister of Iraq, the disregard for informing Iran’s President and Foreign Minister raises questions,” he wrote.

Ali Shamkhani, the former secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, previously said that Adil Abdul-Mahdi had been informed, but he did not disclose then that Rouhani and Zarif were left out of the impending attack.

According to current laws in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the president heads the Supreme National Security Council.

It is inconceivable for Rouhani to be absent from a meeting where the attack on the American airbase in Iraq is approved.

Although the council’s approvals must be signed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to be executed, they must also pass through the president’s office.

Zarif’s account suggests Rouhani was completely unaware of the matter, leaving uncertainty about whether he was aware of the IRGC’s missile launch plan or if he simply didn’t know the timing.

On his official website, Hassan Rouhani confirmed his ignorance of the IRGC’s attack on Al-Assad and disclosed new, startling details:

“The crux of the matter was keeping the president uninformed, evidenced by the cancellation of a meeting between military commanders and Rouhani at his residence hours before the attack… Senior military officials had urgently requested a meeting with the president, and he awaited them at his home, but this scheduled meeting was abruptly cancelled at the last minute. Rouhani learned about the Al-Assad attack on the morning of January 8 through subtitles on Iran’s state television.”

Rouhani recounted, “When it was insisted that the president remain uninformed about the decision to attack Al-Assad (before the prime minister of Iraq), naturally he couldn’t inform the foreign minister.”

Regarding the attack, Rouhani said that due to their ignorance, his government was unprepared during the deployment of air defences, fearing an American retaliation and the decision to keep the country’s airspace closed to passenger planes, although it fell outside the government’s authority – with no consideration given to the aftermath of the Ukrainian plane disaster.

Zarif revealed that on the morning of January 8, while they were occupied with managing the situation, news of the tragedy arrived, but the actual truth, the IRGC’S attack on a passenger plane, was withheld from them.

“Since dawn on Wednesday, along with Dr Araghchi and other colleagues, I was engaged in addressing the international aspects of the action against Al-Assad through official channels such as the Swiss Embassy and customary correspondence with the Secretary-General and President of the United Nations Security Council, as well as public diplomacy through official statements and tweets.

“The news of the Ukrainian plane crash reached us via the internet. It was a monumental tragedy, but all official reports and even confidential information forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested a catastrophic accident, termed as a ‘technical defect’ of the plane.”

During his tenure, Zarif revealed in an interview that on January 8, when summoned to the secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council, he remained oblivious to the truth.

However, harbouring doubts about the official statements, he urged Shamkhani to disclose if the plane had been deliberately targeted, emphasizing the need to rectify the situation.

The revelation of Rouhani and Zarif’s exclusion from knowledge regarding the IRGC’s attack on American interests in Iraq on the day of the plane’s downing is the latest shocking information emerging four years after the tragedy.

Yet, many angles of this incident remain unknown.

Rouhani and Zarif found themselves in a similar state of ignorance a year prior during Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Tehran, orchestrated by Soleimani.

However, the deliberate withholding of information regarding the IRGC’s attack marks a new incident unveiled by Rouhani and Zarif after years.

The decision-making process behind the IRGC’s attack on American interests in Iraq remains unclear.

This attack may have been ordered by the Supreme National Security Council without a specified date, thus eluding Rouhani’s awareness, or it could have been executed under the directive of Khamenei, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, without deeming it necessary to inform the President.

Khamenei’s role in keeping the government uninformed about such a significant decision, one that according to IRGC commanders could have plunged the country into a serious military conflict, raises crucial questions to which Rouhani might hold at least a partial answer.