In an audio interview leaked on April 25, Iranian Foreign Minister Moslem Zarif criticized Suleimani, commander of iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Al-Quds Brigade, who was assassinated by U.S. forces last year, for taking control of Iranian diplomacy and that his own influence on Iranian foreign policy was “sometimes zero.”
Iran’s foreign ministry acknowledged that the seven-hour interview was true, and that Zarif did give it in March 2020, though it was only internal information and would not have been made public before Iran’s presidential election in June 2021, and that Zarif was selectively quoted as misrepresenting the comments in the interview.
Zarif did praise Suleimani in the leaked audio, and the two men worked together effectively before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the New York Times reported Wednesday. Zarif admitted that the U.S. assassination of Suleimani had hit Iran “more than destroying an entire city in an attack”.
But Zarif, on the other hand, described the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign policy demands on Iran’s foreign ministry as “similar to the Cold War” and said he spent more time dealing with them than anything else.
Zarif is also said to have said that in Iran, security has more influence on diplomacy than diplomacy on security, and that “an organization is interested in looking at everything from a security perspective.” ”
Mr. Zarif pointed out that Mr. Suleimani had secretly attacked himself on many issues, such as working with Russia to undermine the Iran nuclear deal and harming Iran’s interests on Syria.
Iranian government officials’ criticism of the Revolutionary Guards’ influence on foreign policy is “extremely rare,” the Guardian reported Friday. Some believe the audio leak was intended to undermine Mr Zarif’s credibility, but others believe he is trying to draw a line under Iran’s failed foreign policy through the interview.
Notably, the leak comes at a critical time for Iran to discuss a return to a nuclear deal with the United States and other Western countries, and it is unclear how the leak will affect the talks in Geneva, Switzerland, and Zarif’s status.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, called the leak of the audio “immoral power” and stressed that some of the published out-of-context audio did not represent all of Zarif’s expressions of respect and love for General Suleimani.
Iran’s foreign ministry also said it would release audio footage of the interview if allowed to do so to eliminate “distortions of the facts” by some.