Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today accused the country’s hardliners of effectively “cheering on” the other side in Iran’s grueling nuclear negotiations with world powers.
“The other side applauds their own, but here in our country, it is not clear what (the hardliners) are doing. It is as if they are cheering on the rival team,” Rouhani said in a public gathering in Tehran. (IRNA/Reuters, 31 December)
“And when we ask them what they are doing, they answer, ‘We are criticizing and criticism is a good thing’… This is not criticism, it is sabotage of national interests and favor for partisan politics,” Rouhani added.
Rouhani here is alluding to a widely-held suspicion among the moderates and circles close to him that the hardliners prefer to see the nuclear negotiations fail than letting Rouhani and the moderates get credit for ending a 12-year nuclear standoff with the West and securing the lifting of sanctions, which have crippled Iran’s oil-based economy.
The hardliners are weary that Rouhani and the moderates could parlay the success into important victories in the upcoming elections for the Assembly of Experts and Majlis, scheduled for March 2016. The elections for the Assembly of Experts are particularly crucial, as the next Assembly could find itself in a position to choose a new supreme leader if the current leader would be incapacitated due to illness. Khamenei recently underwent surgery for prostate cancer.
File photo: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (IRNA)