Iran Parliament Prepares To Investigate Zarif's Controversial Leaked Tape
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did not attend the Iranian parliament's closed-door session on Sunday May 9 that was meant to probe into the controversy surrounding his leaked interview that was broadcast by Iran International TV on 25 April.
In the tape Zarif lambasted former Qods (Quds) Force commander Qasem Soleimani for having hijacked Iran’s foreign policy and accused Russia of working against the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015.
Speaking at the parliament (Majles) on Sunday, Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf accused Zarif of putting the IRGC against the Foreign Ministry in a "non-expert and illusory dichotomy."
Referring to Zarif's statement against Soleimani, Ghalibaf used the Islamic Republic's jargon about liberals and said that "Soleimani's blood will expose and uproot those who have been deceived by the West." He added that the Majles is planning to take measures against "the perpetrators of those uncalculated actions."
Following the leak, President Hassan Rouhani ordered an investigation into how the audio recording found its way to the media, but government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on May 6 that the intelligence agencies have still not presented a report on the case.
In another development at the Majles on Sunday, Mojtaba Zolnour, the head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee opined that Zarif's statements in the leaked file revealed that he holds a grudge against Soleimani because of a psychological issue.
Addressing Zarif, Zolnour said: "You are indebted to the IRGC. You had no proper economic policy and you did not have much money. The only regional countries that support us are those who have been under the influence of the IRGC. If we did not have backing, we had nothing to use as our bargaining chip when we sat down to negotiate with others." He stressed: "Whatever you gained in the nuclear deal you owe it to the country's missile power."
Meanwhile Zolnour lashed out at the Vienna talks to revive the nuclear deal and said: "Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has no right to promise that Iran will renew the agreement about the IAEA's monitoring of Iran's nuclear sites. Aren't you offering positive pulses hoping to have the sanctions lifted? Aren't you telling them that you do not take the legislation passed by the Majles seriously and suggesting to them not to take it seriously? Why do you attack the IRGC and at the same time suggest that the IRGC is ruling the affairs of the state?"
Another member of the Iranian parliament, MP for Rasht Jabbar Kouchakinejad characterized Zarif's remarks in the leaked audio file as "against the people, their security, and their values." The lawmaker called on the Iranian Judiciary to intervene in the issue of the leaked tape.
Yet another lawmaker, Alireza Salimi said: "How the file was leaked is a secondary matter. What is of prime importance is that Zarif has distorted the reality is his remarks and it is not unprecedented."
After the closed door session, deputy speaker Ahmad Amirabadi said that the lawmakers have called for an investigation into how the Presidential Office's Strategic Studies Center handled the matter.
He said: "The National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Majles will hold a meeting about the leak and at the same time the MPs will get together to demand an investigation."
Rouhani dismissed Hesamoddin Ashena, one of his advisers who chaired the Strategic Studies Center, four days after the leak and put Ali Rabiei in charge. Zarif's controversial interview was part of a series of talks conducted at the center as part of an oral history project.
Zarif's statements against the IRGC, Russia and Soleimani enraged the Islamic Republic leader Ali Khamenei and his hardline aides.