Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif allegedly was forced to “sacrifice diplomacy for the IRGC’s operations”, because of interventions by former Qods Force Commander Qasem Soleimani in Iran’s diplomatic affairs.
This was reported in an alleged interview he gave back in March 2021, and was supposed to be released in August 2021, after President Hassan Rouhani’s administration leaves office.
The interview was reportedly obtained by the London-based Iran International television channel.
The interview was conducted by Iranian journalist Saeed Laylaz who is close to Rouhani’s economic team.
Zarif said that his ministry followed a “cold war strategy,” but under Soleimani’s influence, he had to further a diplomacy that would serve Iran’s interests in its military operations in the region.
“On the other hand, I have never been able to ask Soleimani to do something that would serve my diplomatic moves,” he allegedly said.
Zarif said that Soleimani intervened in his meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, adding that Soleimani would never accept a demand by Zarif.
“He would not accept to refrain from using the Iranian national airline for transportation to Syria,” he reportedly said.
The foreign minister stressed that Iran always attached priority to its war operations. He said his role in determining Iran’s foreign policy was “nil.”
Meanwhile he maintained that Soleimani’s visit to Moscow immediately after the 2015 nuclear deal was an alleged attempt to destroy the nuclear deal.
“That trip was made upon Moscow’s initiative without the Iranian Foreign Ministry having any control on it. Its objective was to destroy the JCPOA,” Zarif allegedly said.
Zarif added that Rouhani did not know about Soleimani’s intervention in diplomacy. He also said that the foreign ministry was kept in the dark about Iran’s military operations in Syria.
“It was former US Foreign Secretary John Kerry who told me Israel had launched more than 200 attacks on Iranian forces in Syria,” he said.
“The United States knew about the attack on Ain al-Assad [January 8, 2020] in Iraq before I was informed of it,”Zarif said, adding that Iranian military officials told him about the missile attack on the Ukrainian civilian airliner on the same date, a day or two after the plane was shot down killing all 176 people onboard.
Elsewhere in the alleged interview, Zarif spoke about Russia and how it wanted to destroy the Iran Nuclear Deal.
He allegedly “rude and non-diplomatic language” in his talks with Lavrov at times. Nonetheless, he said that he supported the ties with Russia and China, although he also said Iran’s relations with America is against Russia’s interests, so Russia opposes the normalization of Iran’s ties with the United States.
Reportedly, Iran’s Foreign Ministry admitted that Zarif gave the interview, but said that his words had been distorted through the use of selective quotes, according to the Guardian.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the ministry, called the leak “unethical politics.”
“The Foreign Ministry is not responsible for the publication of this audio file. This interview was not a conversation with the media,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh.
According to the diplomat, “one should look at Zarif’s words as a whole, and not selectively.” He added that “in this file, the Iranian Foreign Minister speaks of [General] Qasem Soleimani with respect.”
Former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said that the publication of Zarif’s comments was “tantamount to Israel stealing the nuclear documents” from Iran.