I’m of two minds about this tape, and not just because the New York Times is heavily featuring it.
On the one hand, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the main squeeze for every pro-Iran advocate from John Kerry in D.C. all the way across to Brussels, is admitting what every sane person who didn’t work for the Obama administration knows is already the case.
The IRGC, Iran’s hub for Islamic terrorism, calls the shots. Especially on foreign policy. And guys like Zarif are just there as window dressing to fool our useful idiots.
On the other hand, this conveniently plays into the myth of an “extreme” and a “moderate” wing of Iran’s regime which useful idiots like Kerry have used to argue that we need to work with the “moderates” or it will play into the hands of the “extremists”.
It doesn’t help that Zarif appears to be playing Br’er Rabbit on the tape. “The recording, of a conversation between Mr. Zarif and an economist named Saeed Leylaz, an ally, was not meant for publication, as the foreign minister can repeatedly be heard saying on the audio.”
So why then make the tape? For some future documentary? Color me with some very skeptical crayons.
The obvious question is who is playing into whose hands?
“In the Islamic Republic the military field rules,” Mr. Zarif said in a three-hour taped conversation that was a part of an oral history project documenting the work of the current administration. “I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field servicing diplomacy.”
On it, Mr. Zarif confirms what many have long suspected: that his role as the representative of the Islamic Republic on the world stage is severely constricted. Decisions, he said, are dictated by the supreme leader or, frequently, the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Did anyone really doubt any of this?
Mr. Zarif acknowledged on the tape that when it comes to negotiations, he is bound not just by the directions of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but by the demands of the Guards. He said Mr. Khamenei had recently “forcefully rebuked” him for straying from the official line when he said Iran was willing to work with the United States to choreograph steps toward returning to a deal.
If you believe the tape then Zarif doesn’t know anything and his hands are tied.
On the night that Iran decided to retaliate against the United States for the killing of General Suleimani, two Quds Force commanders went to see the Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, to inform him that in about 45 minutes Iran would be firing missiles at a military base where U.S. troops were stationed, Mr. Zarif said. The Americans knew about the strike before he did.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry informed him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times, to his astonishment, Mr. Zarif said.
“This ties the hands of the negotiators,” said Sina Azodi, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council. “It represents Zarif as someone who is not trustworthy domestically, and overall paints a picture that Iran’s foreign policy is dictated by theater policies of the military and Zarif is a nobody.”
… to his astonishment.
It is helpful of John Kerry to keep Islamic terrorists appraised of what Israel is doing.
So there’s a third possibility for the leak. That Zarif is worried the regime is going to come down and he’s playing both sides, establishing himself as a powerless guy who tried to do his best, but his hands were tied.
Call it a political insurance policy. The leak of the tape was likely premature because I don’t think Zarif thinks the regime is about to go down.
In the portions that were leaked, Mr. Zarif does praise the general [Suleimani] and says they worked productively together in the prelude to the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also says that by assassinating him in Iraq, the United States delivered a major blow to Iran, more damaging than if it had wiped out an entire city in an attack.
Despite what the Left and its Alt-Right allies claim, President Trump did the right thing.