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Looking for Iranian moderation in all the wrong places

Looking for Iranian moderation in all the wrong places

Inconsistent characterizations of who is a “hardliner”

We have noted degree to which America’s media, including Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times, tells us that the most vicious anti-American statements from Iran are really expressions of admiration.

Check out a few of Erdbrink’s recent tweets.

Erdbrink calls Jalili a hardliner.

But in a recent article he reported on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as not being a hardliner:

With talks over Iran’s nuclear program set to resume in Geneva this week, both sides engaged in a bit of public diplomacy Sunday: Iran’s supreme leader moved to quiet hard-liners in his country by expressing support for his negotiating team, while the chief American negotiator reiterated in an Israeli television interview that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds Iran’s final word on the nuclear talks, told a group of students here that he was not optimistic the negotiations would succeed, but he also sent a negative message to the conservative clerics and military commanders who in recent weeks have attacked the diplomatic initiative.

“No one has the right to see our negotiating team as compromisers,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to a recounting published on his personal website. “They are our own children and children of the revolution. They have a difficult mission, and no one has the right to weaken an official who is doing his job.”

Erdbrink here is portraying Khanenei as opposed to “hard-liners” and “conservative” clerics.

But Press TV has more of Khamenei’s statements than what Erdbrink quoted.

“The nuclear issue is merely a pretext and if, hypothetically, this issue is resolved with us backing down …”

I’m reading this to mean that Khamenei is opposed to any nuclear compromise.

And if we go back a few weeks to Khamenei’s Hajj speech when he declared:

These disastrous conditions can abort the progress of Islamic Awakening, destroy the mental awareness which has been created in the world of Islam, drag Muslims- once more- towards stagnation, isolation and decline and consign to oblivion important and fundamental issues such as the liberation of Palestine and other Muslim nations from the transgressions of the USA and Zionism.

While I don’t know if he’s declaring the “USA” as being the “eternal” enemy of Iran, he is at least declaring it the enemy of Iran.

Erdbrink, on Twitter identified Jalili as a hardliner for opposing any nuclear compromise and declaring the United States Iran’s (eternal) enemy.

But is there truly any difference between Khamenei and Jalili?

Or was it necessary to position Khamenei as a moderate, in order to support the narrative that Iran is looking for a deal with the United States?

By the way, the recounting is not on Ayatollah Khamenei’s personal English website. Maybe he has a personal Farsi website and that’s what Erdbrink was referring to. I used Press TV for his comments. In any case, Erdbrink selectively quoted Khamenei.

[Photo: مرتضی انصاری
/ WikiCommons


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