Riffing off President Hassan Rouhani’s calling some Iranian critics of the interim nuclear agreement “semi-literate,” a Reformist newspaper has published a satirical chart detailing the “diplomatic literacy” of members of parliament who have criticized the nuclear deal.
Reformist newspaper Aftab-e Yazd printed the chart on the front page of its Feb. 16 issue, just two days before the nuclear talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany resumed. The article was shared widely on social media as a tongue-in-cheek highlighting that Iran’s nuclear critics in the conservative parliament have no particular specializations in diplomacy or science.
The three-column chart lists the parliament member’s name, experience in the diplomatic field and scientific or academic history. Nearly half of the members of parliament have a blank space in the chart under “specialty in diplomatic field” and much of the “scientific history” listed appears to be comically unrelated qualifications.
Some of the most notable names in the chart include Mehdi Koochakzadeh, whose “specialty in diplomacy” is “traveled with Ahmadinejad to East Asia” and scientific experience is a “doctorate in irrigation.” Javad Karimi Qodusi’s diplomatic qualifications are listed as “signatory to a draft of legislation that requires the administration to completely support the oppressed people of Palestine.”
Hamid Rasaei’s diplomatic qualifications are listed as “took a promotional trip to Africa” and Morteza Aghatehrani’s as “Friday sermon prayer leader.” Ahmad Arianejad’s diplomatic space is blank, and his scientific experience has “There is no information available, but he refers to himself as a doctor on his personal website.”
Many of the 24 parliament members listed in the chart are politically aligned with Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi’s hard-line Endurance Front. After Rouhani’s “semi-literate” accusation, Mesbah Yazdi went on a very harsh tirade attacking the statement, Rouhani and the nuclear deal.
“They say that they want criticism, but they’re lying,” Mesbah Yazdi said without mentioning Rouhani’s name. “They cannot tolerate one sentence.” He accused Rouhani’s administration, for which the United States unblocked $4 billion of Iran’s money in return for rolling back parts of the nuclear program, of “selling the esteem of the people, throwing to the wind the blood of thousands of martyrs in the last three decades so that for a few days, a few of your own dollars are returned to you.”
Mesbah Yazdi warned Iranians not to “forget the values of God” and asked, “For what reason did we and Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] have a revolution?” In his most controversial comment, Mesbah Yazdi implied that Rouhani was lying and “heartless.”