By Reza Parchizadeh
As expected, the mainstream media interpreted Javad Zarif’s resignation as an indicator of the opening of a rift between the “moderates” and the “hardliners” within the Khomeinist regime’s ranks. Publications like Bloomberg quoted Fouad Izadi, a notorious regime apologist, claiming that “Zarif’s resignation could mark the start of a shift in Iranian politics as engagement efforts with the West are seen backfiring.”
Iran watchers who are now savvy to the Khomeiniist regime’s m.o. when cornered know, however, that Zarif’s resignation and the international spectacle that has ensued is Tehran’s attempt at staging the next phase of the “moderate/hardliner” game that the Khomeinist regime has been playing with the West for over two decades. The writers of the Bloomberg article insinuate that Trump’s hard line on Tehran has made a victim of Zarif, whom they try to advertise as “a proponent of engagement rather than confrontation.” Through this show of moderation, the Iranian regime and the global Left mean to force Trump’s hand so that he relents on the Iranian regime and eases sanctions and other restrictions. Instead, they want Trump to invest in the faux-moderate pro-dialogue faction of the Islamic regime, similar to what is happening in Venezuela with Juan Guaido.
The scenario devised in order to strengthen Zarif’s position began to play out when he offered his resignation during Assad’s visit to Tehran and a meeting with Khamenei, where both Zarif and his diplomatic corps were frozen out. The Supreme Leader warmly received Assad in his official residence in the presence of Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s senior adviser on international affairs, Ebrahim Raisi, custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, and Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Zarif, on the other hand, symbolically met with members of left-wing American group Code Pink and their “peace activist” cronies.
In order to exaggerate the feigned rift, Zarif added: “…in view of the pictures of today’s meeting [Assad and Khamenei], Javad Zarif no longer has any credibility in the eyes of the world as [Iran’s] Minister of Foreign Affairs.” Mahmoud Vaezi, Rouhani’s chief of staff, however, tweeted that “this office strongly denies the validity of the published news regarding the acceptance of Dr. Zarif’s resignation by the President.”
In the meantime, Rouhani himself also pushed for moderation on the part of the regime, by demanding that the Islamic parliament (Majles) approve Iran’s joining the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international organization monitoring money laundering and financial corruption. The day following Zarif’s resignation, during the annual Central Bank of Iran meeting, Rouhani insisted that things should be done through legal channels and that Iran should seriously consider joining FATF.
Several weeks ago, Zarif and seven other ministers penned a letter to the Supreme Leader, declaring that they would resign if the regime did not join FATF. This was meant to give Zarif the appearance of that very dedicated moderate, who is open to working in unison with the general US and EU policy to put pressure on the regime “hardliners”.
The mainstream media has championed Zarif as the architect of the JCPOA or the Iran nuclear deal that supposedly brought peace to the world. He has been characterized as the copacetic player whose relatable nature brought “adults” such as Kerry and Obama to the negotiating table. The fact that Zarif is frequently touted by the pro-Obama media like CNN, Washington Post and the Guardian as the bona fide moderate Islamist with a good will towards the West speaks volumes.
The truth is, however, that Zarif only acted as the front man in a game of deception that had been meticulously designed by the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards. The nuclear negotiations were actually initiated by no other than Khamenei himself through the back channel of Oman while Ahmadinejad was still president. It was with this groundwork already in place that a couple of years into the future, the Supreme Leader, fully aware of Zarif’s vast network and extensive connections in the United States, personally endorsed Zarif (with Velayati’s seal of approval) for the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Therefore, as Secretary Pompeo aptly put it, “[Zarif] and Hassan Rouhani are just front men for a corrupt religious mafia. We know Khamenei makes all final decisions.”
Truth is, the Khomeinist regime is on its way out and is playing for time. Its only hope is that Trump will not be reelected in 2020 so that it can make a deal with the pro-Tehran Democrats and survive. In view of Trump’s support for the Venezuelan Juan Guaido, the Machiavellian Khamenei is trying to showcase Zarif and possibly Rouhani as viable domestic dissenters like what Guaido is in Venezuela, so that the Trump administration slackens its policy of maximum pressure on the totality of the regime, until Trump is out of office.
The Khomeinist regime longs for that little time it can scare up by taking the “moderate/hardliner” game of deception to the next stage. In other words, this is a bait that the Trump Administration would do well not to take. As I have always said, there is no dual governance in Iran. The Islamofascist regime is one solid unit from head to toe when it comes to tyranny, terror, crime and of course survival. And it must be toppled as a whole so that the whole world gets rid of it once and for all.