Iran former FM Zarif comes down hard on principlists in election campaign, rivals on defensive

Iran’s former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a heavyweight supporter of reformist presidential candidate Massoud Pezeshkian, has made a fiery speech in the central Iranian city of Kashan against the rival principlist camp.

Zarif censured the far-right and right-leaning contenders, especially Saeed Jalili, for their “unrelenting policies” at home and anti-Western approach on the international stage, from dealing with women’s ‘lousy’ dressing to failure to revive a landmark nuclear deal with the West which begot more sanctions.

He said, “Unlike the rude minority, we are not looking for chaos and do not want to suppress the voice of the opposition.”

Zarif called for a high turnout in the June 28 presidential elections, warning the hardliners and “their inheritors who have dumped the sanctions onto the nation” and those who seek to topple the government from abroad both favor a low turnout.

“Our future is not determined on the streets. Our future is determined by the ballot box. We want the people to come to the polls so we can make our country stronger so it can stand against the superpowers and no one will dare to threaten Iran,” he added.

Zarif also cited a revelation by another presidential hopeful, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who made a revelation in a presidential debate on Thursday that Jalili, as the former Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, opposed Iran’s accession to intergovernmental anti-money laundering Financial Action Task Force (FATF) so then president Hassan Rouhani, who is in the rival camp, would not reap any possible benefits.

Many, including MP Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh and former minister of information and communications technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, have slammed Jalili for “taking the livelihood of millions of Iranians hostage” for partisan goals.

However, the principlists argue that both the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the FATF are Western-dominated, one-sided, and fail to fulfill the interests of the Iranian nation.

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