Trump’s Gift to Iran’s Conservatives: Rouhani Moving Away from Reformism

Following the Iranian president’s recent address to the Parliament, almost all reformist papers decided not to cover his anti-US remarks, while conservatives gave him a revolutionary welcome.

If one wants to assess the consequences of the US government’s post-JCPOA actions in Iran’s political arena and also see the reflection of Trump’s moves which have made the future of the nuclear deal unclear, it is just enough to read a Tuesday article published by Sobh-e Now newspaper, which is affiliated with Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the former conservative mayor of Tehran and President Hassan Rouhani’s contender in 2017 Presidential Election.

Here is the headline of this short piece: “Revolutionary Welcome to the President”. It could easily be published with this headline as well: “Trump’s Gift to Iranian Revolutionaries; Rouhani’s Shift from Reformist Front”.

Sobh-e Now writes in a Farsi report that all reformist papers censored the president’s important Sunday statements on calling negotiations with the US a “ridiculous and crazy act”.

“The reformist front apparently did not expect their political ally to change his approach so soon. Contrary to their past practice and expectations, the reformist front did not expect Rouhani to admit mistakes and criticize the most important political issue of Iran’s Establishment, i.e. negotiations and relations with the United States,” reads the article.

The author goes on to say that Rouhani, who in the run-up to the 2013 presidential election believed negotiating with the US, as the world’s chief, is much easier than holding talks with Europe, during the 2017 presidential election promised to lift other sanctions, just as he had removed nuclear sanctions against the nation over the past four years. With this approach, Rouhani repeatedly talked about the second and third deal.

“Now, however, those optimisms, with a 180-degree turn, have turned into expressing that negotiating with the US is “the most ridiculous thing in the history”. This stance of Rouhani, although not pleasing to the reformists, is the most logical and principled comment which can be made about the age-old enemy of Iran. The Iranian people and the Islamic Establishment will definitely welcome this stance.”

The article adds that in the face of the cold reaction of the reformists, this is the duty of the revolutionary movement to come to the fore and help President Rouhani to reform his past stances.

“Of course, two things have to be taken into consideration; first, the president and his moderate companions must not look differently at Trump and Obama’s America. Undoubtedly, both of them pursue the same policy, one with a cast-iron hand and the other with a velvet glove on the cast-iron hand. Second, now that Rouhani has rightly abandoned his hope in the United States, he should not trust Washington’s European allies either.Because as he (Rouhani) mentioned, they are the same permission-needed parties when it comes to the United States.”

Sobh-e Now newspaper; however, advises Rouhani that this does not mean the diplomatic engagement must be abandoned.

“The best policy for the 12th administration is to do its best to boost domestic economy based on internal capacities and tread this path practically and seriously,” concludes the piece.

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