By Hamid Enayat
The release of Zarif’s audio file last week, less than two months before Iran’s presidential election, sparked much speculation amid last week’s Vienna talks. Below is an analysis regarding this audio file’s release in light of the current situation of the Iranian regime.
The current Iranian political scene, including the recent Vienna talks, is affected by Iran’s presidential election. This critical election for the regime could significantly impact its future, more than any other in the last 40 years. A government newspaper close to Khamenei writes that the release of Zarif’s audio file is similar to Ayatollah Montazeri’s audio file on the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, which was released a year before the 2016 presidential election. In this audio file, Ayatollah Montazeri addressed several members of the death squad, including the presidential candidate running against Rouhani, saying that they have committed a horrific crime unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic and indicating a pregnant woman was executed. The newspaper believes that because of this audio file, Rouhani was able to surpass his rival. Zarif intends to destroy the current head of the judiciary, Ibrahim Ra’isi, who appears to be Khamenei’s only candidate for the post, in the same manner by releasing this audio file.
One week before the release of Zarif’s audio file, more than 220 members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly wrote letters to Ibrahim Ra’isi calling for his candidacy in the upcoming presidential election. In the March 2012 elections, the Guardian Council disqualified all candidates from other factions, even those who had been members of parliament for several terms, so that the parliament would be fully loyal to Khamenei. Before the letter of 220 MPs, Khamenei had rejected the candidacy of Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, from the so-called reformist faction.
On the first day of the Iranian year, Nowruz, which begins on March 21, 2021, Khamenei said: “The last thing about the elections is that our dear nation should make the elections a symbol of national unity. Do not put the symbol of duality as a symbol of division. Do not practice and idealize bipolarity. Put aside these false divisions of left and right and the like. “(Khamenei – April 1, 1400) In unambiguous terms, like all other dictators who see themselves in danger, he wants to encircle himself with those loyal to him, hoping to prolong his reign.
The two widespread uprisings of 2017 and 2019 are the key to understanding the roadmap of Iran’s Supreme Leader and the upcoming presidential election. These two uprisings were initiated from unparalleled poverty, high prices, and inflation and surprised the Iranian regime. In the 2019 uprising, Khamenei was only able to survive the uprising by ordering his guards to openly shoot at protestors, resulting in killing at least 1,500 young insurgents.
In one of his speeches, Rouhani said that after the 2017 uprising, former US President Trump dared to leave the JCPOA agreement. According to some information obtained from Iranian intelligence circles, after the 2019 uprising, Trump dared to kill Soleimani, the second person in the Iranian regime. The army of the hungry and other unemployed masses is on the move and impacting Khamenei.
Many of the regime’s officials had expected the subsequent widespread uprising to occur in the summer of 2020. An uprising could have overthrown the regime, but coronavirus arrived, shifting the focus away from the regime’s actions. Khamenei considered it a blessing and an opportunity. Through this coronavirus and the great massacre that resulted from it, Khamenei wanted to prevent the insurgent youth from another uprising by creating despair and hopelessness in the society. For this reason, he issued a fatwa banning the import of reputable vaccines from France, Britain, and the United States. Let’s say that the uprising of the Baluch people in early March 2020 showed that Khamenei had failed in this strategy.
In simple terms, Khamenei intends to allow only a close circle of loyalists to run in the presidential election. Therefore, in the upcoming elections, the Guardian Council will disqualify all other candidates. Zarif was probably one of these candidates, but after a letter from 220 other representatives, it was confirmed Zarif had no chance in this election. Then the subtle audio file was released.
Just two months before the presidential election and amid recent Vienna negotiations with Iran, Khamenei was using Rouhani and Zarif, the so-called moderates, to bring the Vienna talks to a desirable end for Iran. It is now possible to understand why Zarif released such an audio file during these negotiations.
Considering the volatile situation in Iran, Khamenei strongly avoids being bipolar, confronting two factions within his regime. He has experience of the 2019 uprising. Any spark from the confrontations between these two factions could ignite widespread demonstrations and protests.
In this audio file, Zarif tried to distance himself from sensitive international cases, such as the crash of a Ukrainian plane or the massacre of the Syrian people by the Quds Force, and play the innocent. In this audio file, he tried to present a clean face in front of the bloody face of Qassem Soleimani (who refers to him as a field and is, in fact, an icon of the interventionist policies of the Supreme Leader and assassination and murder).
During these years, Zarif has had many conversations, tweets, negotiations, and travels supporting Iran’s policies. Is the message of these involvements other than complicity in all the crimes of the Islamic Republic? Zarif has stated in this tape that: “Most of our Foreign Ministry ambassadors have a security structure. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been facing security issues since it began operating. The Foreign Ministry’s agenda has been a political-security agenda since the beginning of the revolution. “
On February 4, 2021, a court in Antwerp, Belgium, released its verdict in the case of Assadollah Assadi, a career Iranian diplomat who plotted a bombing attack against a major gathering of Iranian opposition members in France in 2018. The attack was thwarted by authorities across multiple countries, resulting in Assadi’s arrest; the court sentenced Assadollah Assadi to 20 years in prison on terrorism charges. This verdict is the first time a diplomat on duty received such a sentence.
On May 5th 20121 , Assadi’s lawyers declined the opportunity to appeal, so his verdict will stand, and his sentence will be enforced.
According to documents obtained by German police, Assadi had made hundreds of trips to 11 European countries and had paperwork documenting cash payments made to dozens of Iranian operatives. “The trial of Assadollah Assadi is the tip of a massive terrorist iceberg,” said Struan Stevenson, a former European Parliament member. “As a diplomat, you can’t make hundreds of visits to different countries without permission from your ambassador. The ambassador takes his command from Tehran. There is no doubt that this plot was ordered by Khamenei, Rouhani, Zarif, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi.”
Undoubtedly, Zarif has been aware of all these activities and has tried to use diplomacy in the service of the regime’s belligerent and interventionist policies. Rouhani and his quarrels with the Supreme Leader are not based on reformism: the cessation of executions and horrific violations of human rights and peaceful life with other countries, but on obtaining a piece of power and nothing else.