Obama extends an olive branch to Tehran in a video message; Supreme Leader dismisses Obama’s overtures; Khatami withdraws from presidential elections
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • US President Barack Obama issued an unprecedented videotaped appeal to Iran offering a “new beginning” of diplomatic engagement with the country. Obama stressed that his administration was “committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties.” He also called on Tehran to do its part to achieve reconciliation. And “demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization.” The Obama videotape came on the occasion of Iran’s ancient festival of Nowruz, celebrating the arrival of spring1.

    Ahmadinejad’s press advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr welcomed “the wish of the president of the United States to put away past differences,” but stated that the “way to do that is not by Iran forgetting the previous hostile and aggressive attitude of the United States.” He urged the US administration “to recognise its past mistakes and repair them …” The Iranian President’s adviser stated that Iran would never forget the role played by US in the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, nor the 1988 shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane by a US warship which killed all 290 people aboard. He also pointed out America’s support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, sanctions levied against Iran, and US support for Iran’s main militant opposition group, the People’s Mujahideen of Iran. Javanfekr pointed oiut that “the only source of instability in the region is the American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan2.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on his part, speaking in Mashdad, dismissed Obama’s overtures and noted that Tehran did not see any change in American policy toward its government3.

    Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani meanwhile stated that disagreements between the administration and the parliament were ‘technical not political’ and warned that failure to implement the national budget law properly would be considered an offense. Larijani was responding to reports in some Arab media outlets which noted that there was a political dispute between the Ahmadinejad administration and the Iranian parliament. He also called on Arab countries to focus on their own problems4. President Ahmadinejad in a letter on March 14 had accused the parliament of violating the constitution after it rejected a key plank of his subsidy reform plan. However, Guardian Council (GC) spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaii stated that the GC had approved the bill (Parliament bills only become laws after they are endorsed by the GC).

    In other domestic developments, former President Mohammad Khatami officially announced his withdrawal from the upcoming presidential elections of June 2009. He however vowed to continue his efforts to encourage a huge turnout in the elections5.

    Russia meanwhile stated that it will decide whether to deliver the sophisticated S-300 air defence systems to Iran based on the ‘international situation.’ The contract to deliver the systems was concluded two years ago but not implemented so far. Reports noted that the sale of the systems would likely anger the United States and Israel, which accuse Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon and have not ruled out an attack on the country's atomic facilities6.