Iran Hard-Liners Blast Tehran’s Diplomacy

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Several Thousand Used an Annual Anti-American Demonstration to Show Their Opposition to New diplomacy with the West.

Several thousand Iranian hard-liners used an annual anti-American demonstration to show their opposition to their government’s new diplomacy with the West, underlining the country’s divisions over the issue.

During the annual ceremony commemorating the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran 34 years ago, the crowds took aim at President Hasan Rouhani’s efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff with the West and normalize relations with the U.S.

Many of them chanted “Death to America” as they burned the American flag while carrying effigies of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Our enemies claim that foreign diplomacy should be pragmatic not ideological,” said Saeed Jalili, Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate. “By claiming to be pragmatic they are departing from the path of the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini], founder of the revolution.”

Iranian hard-liners have been intent on undermining the new government’s diplomacy with the West. In recent weeks, some government officials, members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards and popular Imans have published harsh newspaper editorials, railed against the effort during Friday prayer sermons and plastered banners across Tehran depicting the U.S. as a dishonest negotiating partner. They have openly encouraged supporters to show up for protests.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke out on Sunday against criticizing the government’s strategy in the nuclear talks and said “no one should label them as compromisers.”

He added: “They have a difficult mission and no one should weaken them while they are carrying out this mission.”

More ordinary supporters of Mr. Rouhani also spoke out on Monday. A group of 30 university student groups from around the country, considered among the most political and influential, signed a statement calling for ending the current standoff through new diplomatic means.

“Our yearning for independence does not mean that we want to be isolated and provocative in our foreign diplomacy,” said the student statement.

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