Ramin Mehmanparast, a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman who represented Iran in several diplomatic posts abroad, said in an interview that Commander Qasem Soleimani was not just a military man but a diplomat and strategist. Mehmanparast went on to say that he considered the comments made by Mohammad-Javad Zarif in the leaked audio as in accurate.
In a public address to the nation, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly rebuked Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif over last week’s leaked audio file in which Zarif criticised former IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani, which he described as a “repetition of our enemy’s views”. Khamenei reiterated that Soleimani was “martyred” because he upset the plans of Iran’s enemies and added that “we should not talk in a way that makes our enemies happy”. Khamenei finished with another stern rebuke, saying “everyone must know that foreign policy is not determined in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Iran or anywhere in the world.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif took to Instagram to apologise for comments he made regarding the late Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani in the now infamous leaked audio file. Zarif apologised without reservation, stating that “I hope the Iranian people and all those who love the Commander, especially the noble family of dear Soleimani, will forgive me”.
The leaked Zarif interview dominated news headlines today in Iran. Most media outlets reported it as embarrassing to the Foreign Minister, although some speculated the recordings might help him. Kayhan, the mouthpiece for the Supreme Leader’s Office, was hostile, taking issue with Zarif’s criticisms of IRGC Commander Qasem Soleimani, accusing the interviewer of sedition (he was imprisoned after the 2009 election), and depicting the Foreign Minister as a stooge and sacrificial victim for Western powers.
A 3-hour interview with Foreign Minister, and potential candidate, Mohammad-Javad Zarif was leaked today, in which Zarif accuses the Russians of trying to sabotage the JCPOA agreement in 2015. Zarif also ruminates on the competing objectives of his office with the interests of Qasem Soleimani and the Quds Force. Zarif also comments on Ahmadinejad’s attempt to talk to the Americans about nuclear issues without first seeking the permission of the Supreme Leader, adding that “Death to America is just another slogan for Ahmadinejad”. The Foreign Ministry has called the leaked audio “distorted and fragmented”.