Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Revolutionary Guards Corps call the shots, overruling several government policies and following guidance, according to a leaked audiotape that provides an insight into the behind-the-scenes power struggles of Iranian politicians.
The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, identified a rivalry with an influential and highly respected military leader, Qassim Suleimani.
Mr. Zarif departed from the reverential official line on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the leader of the Guards’ elite Quds Force, the foreign-facing arm of Iran’s security apparatus, who was killed by the US in January 2020, this was disclosed on the tape that surfaced on Sunday.
The general Mr. Zarif claimed that undermined him in a number of ways, including collaborating with Russia to disrupt the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and pursuing measures against Syria’s long war that were detrimental to Iran’s interests.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a three-hour taped interaction that was part of an oral history project recording the current administration’s operation, “In the Islamic Republic, the military field law.” “Rather than field servicing diplomacy, I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field.”
The authenticity of the tape was not disputed by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh after the leak became public. He told journalists on Monday that the video was just a portion of a seven-hour interview Zarif conducted with a well-known economist, which was to be preserved for posterity by an Iranian presidential think tank.
Khatibzadeh called the recording’s publication “illegal” and said it was “selectively” edited, though he and others didn’t comment about how it got out. Following a brief statement in Baghdad, Zarif, who arrived in Iraq on Monday after a trip to Qatar, took no questions from journalists.
The audio recording, which was made in March between Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and an ally called Saeed Leylaz, was not intended for release, as the foreign minister can be heard saying frequently on the audio. A copy of the recording was leaked to Iran International, a Persian news channel based in London, which was the first to report on it and share it with The New York Times.
Zarif says in the interview that Russia wants to scrap the nuclear deal, an issue so delicate that he tells the journalist, “You certainly will never release this part.”
The relationship between Russia and then-President Barack Obama, whose administration secured the agreement with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, was tense. Since becoming frontline allies in Syria, Russia and Iran have compromised ties at times.
Mr. Zarif praises the general in the parts that were leaked, saying they served well together in the run-up to the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also claims that by assassinating him in Iraq, the US dealt Iran a huge blow, one that would be more devastating than if it had taken out an entire city in a single strike.