In recent days, following a warning from the European Troika, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, to the Iranian regime that the E3 is willing and prepared to use the snapback mechanism under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, former president Hassan Rouhani seized the moment to settle matters with the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and president Ebrahim Raisi over the regime’s nuclear program.
On April 29, international news agencies including Reuters reported that the E3 have told Tehran that UN sanctions against the Iranian regime might resume and threatened with the activation of the snapback mechanism.
Following the announcement, rapid action and reaction followed in Tehran. The regime agreed with the reinstallation of IAEA surveillance cameras while its Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Nasser Kanani issued threats against the European countries to make sure the bowing to international pressure doesn’t come over too obvious for its domestic audience.
Meanwhile, former President Hassan Rouhani understood the grave situation Khamenei’s regime is in and took the initiative to blame the regime’s Supreme Leader for the unprecedented international isolation and the regime’s socioeconomic misfortune.
In a meeting with former ministers and associates, Rouhani claimed “Everything was done to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and we even managed to get the concession about the IRGC’s withdrawal from the terrorist list and the lifting of sanctions on the Supreme Leader’s office from the parties involved in the negotiations… but eventually it didn’t come to fruition.”
Consecutive waves of popular uprisings and international censure have rendered Khamenei and Ebrahim Raisi’s administration vulnerable and many former state officials who previously preferred silence over defiance are now becoming vocal. Rouhani is not an exception.
“The absolute rule of clergy, particularly Mr. Khamenei, has created a tyranny in Iran. A popular rebellion is on the horizon. Khamenei has ruled for 34 years, leading the Islamic Republic to its worst popular base. What government kills hundreds of people in three years during peaceful demonstrations? Authorities have blinded hundreds and slaughtered many more,” Mehdi Nasiri, former editor-in-chief of Keyhan Daily, an outlet known as Khamenei’s mouthpiece, warned on May 5.
“The rampant inflation and the increasing poverty and misery rapidly worsen the situation for people. The systematic and institutionalized corruption in the system is another worrying sign of the new situation. In terms of its popular base, the Islamic Republic is in its most dangerous periods, and a rebellion could happen any moment,” he added.
After 7 years of severing relations with Saudi Arabia, in a bid to project stability to the nation and defiantly signaling Tehran is not waiting for easing tensions with the West, Khamenei ordered his regime to comply with Beijing’s agenda for bolstering his foothold in the Middle East. After years of propaganda and millions of dollars investment in hostility with the Arab kingdom, the regime in Iran moved toward warming ties with Riadh and triggered criticism in the society as well as from outlets that belong to the rival factions inside the regime.
Seizing the opportunity to strike political blows to its weakened opponent, Rouhani started to highlight Ebrahim Raisi’s administration’s failure domestically and internationally.
Alarmed by warnings from the E3 regarding the activation of the snapback mechanism and the return of the previous UN sanctions, Rouhani knows that if the regime’s nuclear dossier goes back under the seventh Chapter of the United Nations Charter, it would have severe consequences for Tehran.
Following Rouhani’s recent statements and accusing Khamenei of obstructing “the realization of his achievements” with the “Strategic Action” resolution, factions close to the Supreme Leader also went on the defensive and exposed some concealed secrets of the Rouhani administration.
Among others, state media affiliated with Khamenei’s faction and Ebrahim Raisi revealed that in 2019, Ali Vaez, one of “people close to Robert Malley and the director of Iran’s desk at the International Crisis Group” had made public that the Rouhani government had agreed to suspend the 20% uranium enrichment in exchange for receiving one billion dollars and accused Rouhani of surrendering the nation’s pride.
Furthermore, the state-run Iran newspaper, affiliated with Raisi’s government, blamed Hassan Rouhani for the status-quo. In an article entitled “Snapback Mechanism; the unpleasant legacy of the previous government for the people”, the daily wrote: “The Rouhani government… left us an agreement that puts pressure on the country through its snapback mechanism… the disgrace of accepting such a condition cannot be removed from Javad Zarif’s negotiating team…”
Disparaging and sabotaging Rouhani’s agenda, the Iran newspaper added that “a look at the conflicts raised by Rouhani is enough to say that the JCPOA and other things he claims to offer as achievements… are not a good reason for him and his circle to return to the political arena…”
These developments indicate that some of the defeated factions are holding Khamenei’s weakness as an opportunity to use the next parliamentary sham elections to aim and claim for more power. Though as Khamenei is calling the shots, he has shown in the last three decades that he will do whatever it takes to hold tight to his consolidated power.