Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Fight for President Rouhani’s Ouster

The Islamic regime of Iran remains at war with itself over compromises on its nuclear aspirations.
Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) chiefs are butting heads with the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – and not just over the red lines for the next six months of negotiations with the six powers on a final nuclear accord. They want to trash the interim agreement signed in Geneva two months ago, maintaining that Iran’s commitments under that accord go too far.
IRGC leaders and some radical lawmakers are openly clamoring for President Hassan Rouhani to pay the price for this transgression by his ouster, although they understand that the supreme leader is constrained from bowing to their will.
In the 35 years of the Islamic revolutionary regime of Iran, only one president was sacked: Abolhassan Banisadr, who still lives in exile in Paris. He was forced out by the revolution’s iconic founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
All his successors, Hashem Rafsanjani, Mohamed Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, completed two full terms as presidents.
Khamenei's aides want radical circles to understand that firing President Rouhani would undermine Iran’s international credibility, trigger a new wave of harsh sanctions and terminally disrupt nuclear diplomacy with the international community. The impact on Iran’s economy would be lethal enough to spark popular disaffection, or even an uprising against the regime – the greatest danger of all.

Radicals plan to get rid of Rouhani and his henchmen

Rouhani’s standing in hard-line circles took another knock from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s hasty withdrawal of his invitation to Iran to attend the Syrian peace conference, Geneva-2, which opened this week. In derogatory messages, they pointed to this incident as a reminder of how the world was always ready to betray Iran and trample over its interests. Iran must beware of the US, which remains “the great, all-powerful enemy."
It behooved Iran’s leaders, they said, to stop groveling before the West and instead stand firm, escalating the confrontation and suspending all concessions they advanced in the nuclear negotiations with the six world powers led by the United States.
The hard-liners quoted Khamenei himself, who once said: “If you give the West an inch, they’ll take a whole mile,” to support the case against ever yielding an iota on Iran’s nuclear program.
The IRGC heads and members of the radical factions in parliament were not just talking; they developed a plan of action for getting rid of Rouhani and his henchmen – or at least disempowering them for making concessions in the next stages of nuclear diplomacy.
As a first step, a parliamentary committee would be formed to monitor the nuclear talks and clamp down on further compromise. The Rouhani government would be required to constantly update this committee on the state of play and clear any concessions in advance.
The committee would be licensed to limit the negotiating team’s leeway – over and above the oversight applied by an already existing forum, consisting of the two Larijani brothers (Speaker and head of the judiciary), the president and IRGC commanders.

Shrinking the nuclear program would cut into IRGC revenues

The next step of the revolt against the president was to be a no-confidence vote against his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
This vote if carried would also disqualify his entire negotiating team and shut the talks down.
For now, Rouhani’s enemies are spreading the word that Khamenei is dissatisfied with the interim deal. Although he publicly commended the accord signed in Geneva, he is now quoted by a member of parliament Javad Karimi Qodusi as telling a closed meeting, "As Supreme Leader, I went over the details of the agreement three times and found no recognition of Iran's right to enrich uranium."
This right is the key to the military component of Iran's nuclear program. Its denial by the major powers would force Iran to dismantle its nuclear facilities and a multibillion dollar investment would go down the drain.
Hassan Rouhani tried answering his opponents by saying: "There are elements in Iran who own a compelling interest in thwarting any agreement or understanding with the world on the nuclear issue."
This further infuriated Revolutionary Guards commanders, because the dart’s target was obvious. It is common knowledge that the IRGC has a vested interest in keeping the nuclear program going at full spate, because the gigantic budgets allocated the program facilitate embezzlement on a huge scale and keep the main body of the economy starved of resources.

Radicals go into symbolic mourning for “dead” nuclear program

To further harass the president, dozens of Majlis members are pushing for a bill to force the government to reveal the secret clauses of the Geneva accord – initially, to members of the foreign affairs and security committee. So far, 160 out of the total 290 have signed this petition, touching off the rumbles of a major political earthquake in Tehran.
Tehran’s radical media back them up. Syasat-e Rouz wrote: How can it be that members of the US Congress know all the details of the secret section of the Geneva agreement, while Iranian lawmakers are treated like foreigners and denied this knowledge?
Majlis member Hossein Talaee was quoted as remarking sarcastically, "We ought to send an Iranian parliamentary delegation to the US Congress to find out what's in the secret clauses."
Another lawmaker, Mohammad Hossein Asfari, publicly accused Zarif and Rouhani of denying US revelations about the Geneva accord while refusing to disclose its real contents.
In fact, say our Iranian sources, the Iranian negotiators themselves requested certain clauses to be withheld for fear of inflaming further discord.
As the ground slips away from under his feet, Foreign Minister Zarif is pleading with the major powers (and Iran's leaders) to hurry up and get started on the talks for a final agreement, before the foundations he worked so hard to lay down in Geneva are swept away.
One hard-line publication, Vatan Emrouz, made a show of mourning for the late nuclear program by painting its front page black An inside page depicted Iran's nuclear sites spewing thick smoke over the caption: "Nuclear Holocaust," and lawmaker Hamid Rasaee expressed “sorrow over the death of Iran's nuclear program."

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