Dariush Sajjadi, a reformist blogger, challenges Rouhani’s call for a referendum, saying people’s direct vote will do little to make a breakthrough nuclear deal a reality.
Some political players in Iran have characterized the recent remarks of President Rouhani in a conference on the Iranian economy as a sign of his government’s trepidation about conclusion of a comprehensive win-win nuclear deal with P5+1.
These politicians who are members of the principlist camp believe that America’s political activities, and those of Western governments in general, are in open contrast with striking win-win agreements with developing countries, especially those in the Middle East.
What appears below is the translation of an opinion piece which appeared on January 10 in the Special News Column of Kayhan, a principlist daily those involved in politics do not usually miss:
A journalist who formerly worked for reformist publications says that President Rouhani’s recent remarks [on the possibility of holding a referendum] are indicative of Western failure to cooperate [with Iran] and amount to an invitation to appeasement.
Dariush Sajjadi, a former advisor to [Mehdi] Karroubi [a 2009 presidential hopeful who disputed the election results and sparked unrest in the country] focuses on “Growth is impossible in isolation”, “Principles should not be tied to centrifuges” and the proposed referendum [on major state issues] and writes the following in his blog, “Dr. Rouhani says that swear to God a contracted foreign policy does not help build an expanded economy! That’s right, it is impossible, but what does it have to do with direct popular vote?”
Sajjadi goes on to say, “Mr. Rouhani! You overwhelmingly won the presidential election last year and spearheaded efforts to make good on your [campaign] promises. As you took over the seat of president, you said, ‘The helmsman has now decided on a different course of action’. We know the drill and we should interact with the world. To implement foreign policy you need to know the ropes and that is what we can do.
“Mr. Zarif came into office with the good news of “The man who was perceived to be denying the Holocaust is now gone” and fascinated a nation which was waiting to see his diplomatic proficiency in interacting with the world and pulling Iran out of isolation.
“The Supreme Leader too has fully supported your foreign policy approaches through his ‘Heroic Flexibility’ and you have admitted that you’ve been given plenipotentiary powers in nuclear talks.”
Sajjadi then asks, “What has happened that you keep swearing to God that it’s impossible? If you have failed to clinch a win-win agreement despite your goodwill gestures and tremendous efforts to interact with the world and its Headman [a reference to the US], why are you using your failure as a baton to beat the people?
“If one-and-a-half-year [nuclear] talks with “the Headman” in the princely literature and through smile diplomacy have produced no breakthrough – unlike what you had thought – what breakthrough are you seeking to achieve through a referendum in Iran? Should the Iranians respond to you in a referendum now that you haven’t succeeded in reaching an agreement with foreigners?”
He further says, “Basically what do you like to put to people’s vote in a hypothetical referendum? The answer is: Dear Iranian nation! Despite our sincere endeavors in interacting with the world (the Headman) and the Leader’s backing and our full powers, the Western side did not – and does not – cooperate with us; now you let us appease them so that it [conclusion of a nuclear deal] becomes possible.”
He also says, “Mr. Rouhani, the reason behind “Swear to God it is impossible” lies with an inaccurate presentation of the problem. From the get-go, you dealt with the problem in a simplistic and unrealistic manner.
“As an ordinary citizen, I’ve already told you – as far as my knowledge goes – about the simplistic approach [in the nuclear talks], but you seem unwilling to recognize the realities of the world of politics.”