Editor says Leader opposes nuke deal.
The editor of the hardline daily Kayhan, Hossain Shariatmadari, last week wrote flatly that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenehi opposes the nuclear agreement with the Big Six powers.
In public, however, Khamenehi continues to hem and haw and avoid coming down on either side of the issue. He continued that tantalizing posture even after Shariatmadari wrote that Khamenehi is firmly opposed to the deal.
In the Islamic Republic, only the Supreme Leader or his office announces his position. No one else is allowed to speak for the Supreme Leader.
And after Shariatmadari spoke for the Supreme Leader Saturday, a media adviser employed by the Pasdaran, HamidReza Moqaddam-far, swiftly challenged Shariatmadari, saying, "I wonder why you insist on inculcating in your readership that the Supreme Leader thinks like you."
A few more days have past and nothing has happened--in public at least. No one has disciplined ether Shariatmadari or Moqaddam-far.
Some suspect the Leader's office is happy with what Shariatmadari wrote and may even have urged him to write what he did. Shariatmadari's editorial helps to calm hardliners, who have been happy at the Supreme Leader's waffling. And only hardliners read Kayhan.
In the editorial, Shariatmadari said many parts of the deal threaten Iran's independence, security and "the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran" and would be "disastrous" if implemented.
He referred to a speech by Khamenehi last month in which he said, "Whether this text is approved or disapproved, no one will be allowed to harm the main principles of the Islamic system."
The editorial then commented: "Using the phrase 'whether this text is approved or disapproved' shows his lack of trust in the text of the deal. If His Excellency had a positive view, he would not have insisted on the need for the text to be scrutinized through legal channels.... It leaves no doubt that His Excellency is not satisfied with the text."
Shariatmadari's logic left much to be desired. Furthermore, Gen. Hassan Firuzabadi, the head of the Joint Staff of Iran's armed forces and a close Khamenehi ally, backed the deal several days before Shariatmadari spoke out.
To some, it looked like Khamenehi was using Firuzabadi to tell the officer corps to avoid criticizing the deal and using Shariatmadari to calm the concerns of the far right.