IRGC Suggests Khamenei Pressured Into Negotiations

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In a live hour-long television interview, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) spoke about the functions and operations of IRGC, his experiences during the Iran-Iraq war, and the different views of top officials toward signing UN Security Council Resolution 598, which called for a cease-fire in that war.

Major General Mohammad Ali “Aziz” Jafari, the head of IRGC, drew a parallel between differences between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and other political figures who convinced him to end the war to circumstances today, in which some political figures are pushing Iran’s top leadership to pursue relations and negotiations with the United States.

Jafari said, “There were two views toward the war. One view was that of Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini], which said that the war must continue until the aggressor is punished.” Jafari said that current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was the president for much of the eight-year war, also “supported this view.”

Jafari said of the other viewpoint that existed during that time, “Some officials believed that the war must end sooner because the economic pressure on the country was too much.” He added that those officials encouraged the troops to perform a successful operation in order to strengthen their hand at the negotiation table.

The negotiations viewpoint, according to Jafari, was not the “view of Ayatollah Khomeini, and there were some differences over it.” He added, “Just like today, the view of Ayatollah Khamenei is somewhat different from that of some officials today.”

“Relations with the enemy and the discussion of endurance and resistance are things over which the supreme leader and some officials have a difference of view. This difference existed in those days, as well,” said Jafari.

He continued, “The issue that certainly became clear is that if the administration had supported more completely the front line, we would not have had encountered as many problems.” During the war, Iran had both a prime minister and a president.

While Jafari never directly names which officials Khamenei differs with, President Hassan Rouhani has promised better relations with the West. After returning from a five-day trip in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, during which he spoke on the phone with US President Barack Obama and the Iranian and US foreign ministers met face to face, it was reported Rouhani has reopened the question of resuming direct US-Iran flights for Iranians living in America.

Jafari’s comparison of the Iran-Iraq war to today is a comparison often made in Iran, given that some believe Iran is facing a similar situation economically and is just as isolated now as it was then, though in reality, conditions were much more severe during the war.

While Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was chairman of parliament during the war, he was a close confidant of Ayatollah Khomeini and he has taken credit — or blame, depending where on the political spectrum one falls — for convincing the supreme leader to end the Iran-Iraq war by signing UN Security Council Resolution 598, which called for a cease-fire but did not recognize who was at fault.

Immediately after the signing of the resolution, Iraq’s forces invaded again. Jafari believes that Ayatollah Khomeini’s “wisdom” did not allow him to agree to a cease-fire earlier because he knew Iraq’s then-president Saddam Hussein’s “nature” and that he would use a cease-fire to gather his forces and attack again.

Jafari explained that some believe Iran should have held out for more favorable terms that would have recognized Iraq as the aggressor, which would allow Iran to collect damages and more permanently secured Iran’s borders.

In an interview with Tasnim today, Jafari praised Rouhani’s UN speech and the positions he took, although he added that the phone conversation between the two presidents should have taken place after the United States had taken action.