Saudi Broadcaster 'Leaks' Context Free Quotes From Iran's Foreign Minister Talk - Should It Be Trusted?

26 Apr 2021

Saudi Broadcaster 'Leaks' Context Free Quotes From Iran's Foreign Minister Talk - Should It Be Trusted?

By Moon of Alabama

April 26, 2021


A rather weird leak from Iran appeared yesterday. But even weirder is the reporting about it. From the New York Times:

Iran’s Foreign Minister, in Leaked Tape, Says Revolutionary Guards Set Policies

Javad Zarif of course did not say what the headline claims:

In a leaked audiotape that offers a glimpse into the behind-the scenes power struggles of Iranian leaders, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Revolutionary Guards Corps call the shots, overruling many government decisions and ignoring advice.

In one extraordinary moment on the tape that surfaced Sunday, Mr. Zarif departed from the reverential official line on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Guards’ elite Quds Force, the foreign-facing arm of Iran’s security apparatus, who was killed by the United States in January 2020.

The general, Mr. Zarif said, undermined him at many steps, working with Russia to sabotage the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and adopting policies toward Syria’s long war that damaged Iran’s interests.

If the Revolutionary Guard really 'calls the shots' and was against the nuclear deal why was it signed and sealed?

If Soleimani and/or Russia really wanted to 'sabotage the nuclear deal' why did it come into existence?

Russia by the way would have had no need to 'sabotage' the deal. It simply could have vetoed it during the negotiations or later at the UN Security Council.

“In the Islamic Republic the military field rules,” Mr. Zarif said in a three-hour taped conversation that was a part of an oral history project documenting the work of the current administration. “I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field servicing diplomacy.”

Well - if your ally Syria is under attack from U.S. backed Al-Qaeda terrorists and your neighbor country Iraq gets overrun by the Islamic State there is little that diplomacy can achieve. Those are issues and moments where the military is needed before diplomacy can take over.

Then comes a paragraph that is typical for the manipulative lying that distinguishes NYT scribbling from real reporting:

The audio was leaked at a critical moment for Iran, as the country is discussing the framework for a possible return to a nuclear deal with the United States and other Western powers. Talks through intermediaries have been taking place in Vienna.

It is not Iran that is discussing 'for a possible return to a nuclear deal'. Iran never left the deal. It is the U.S. that wants to reenter a deal the U.S., but not Iran, had left. Iran isn't discussing with 'the United States and other Western powers' but, through intermediaries, with the U.S. alone. That's because the other powers involved in the deal are a. not solely 'western' but include China and Russia and b. also never left the deal.

As for the authenticity of the 'leak' and real meaning of the selected few quotes from Zarif's talk consider the source:

The recording, of a conversation in March between Mr. Zarif and an economist named Saeed Leylaz, an ally, was not meant for publication, as the foreign minister can repeatedly be heard saying on the audio. A copy was leaked to the London-based Persian news channel Iran International Iran International, which first reported on the recording and shared it with The New York Times.

Iran International is not a 'London-based Persian news channel'. It is a Saudi government news channel with a studio in London that broadcasts in Farsi:

The media outlet is funded by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman via a Royal family tycoon owner and has close ties with all Saudi-backed groups and allies, including the son of the dethroned Pahlavi Regime, Reza Pahlavi and pro-Pahlavi monarchists who have long had intimate relations with Riyadh as well as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI) terrorists.

Given the source of the 'leak' and the very few context free Zarif quotes the NYT provides from it no conclusions should be drawn from them.