Faezeh Hashemi, a political activist inside Iran and the daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has hit back against an incendiary video clip recently posted online by the Office of the Supreme Leader.
The video showed Ayatollah Khamenei and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani disagreeing over the future of US-Iran relations at a meeting of the Supreme National Security Council in 2012. It showed the Supreme Leader belittling Rafsanjani’s proposals to engage diplomatically, and a related “pros and cons” list drawn up on the matter by Hassan Rouhani.
The release of the film seemed calculated to damage Rouhani in the final days of his eight-year presidency. But in an audio file recently received by IranWire, Faezeh Hashemi can also be heard railing against the video, calling it a “cowardly” attempt to destroy her father’s reputation. In addition, she said, Khamenei’s constant exhortations to Iranians not to trust “the West” were misguided, and the Islamic Republic's current foreign policy was doing it no favors either.
On Sunday, August 1, 2021, a video entitled "Lessons of the Future" was shared for the first time on Ali Khamenei's official website. It depicted Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as being naively in favor of relations with Western states, and being lambasted for it by the Supreme Leader.
In an audio recording in the aftermath of the film’s release, Faezeh Hashemi voiced outrage against the tape’s publication almost 10 years after the discussion took place. Addressing Khamenei’s office, she said: "My father died five years ago. I don’t know why you engage in such a cowardly act of destruction. Are you afraid of Mr. Hashemi's dead body?
“It doesn’t matter if they were telling the truth. What they said was miles from morality and Islamic principles. Why? To achieve more power? Of course, there might be another reason: a lack of self-confidence. Despite being fully in control, they don’t believe in themselves and therefore destroy others, to reduce the noise. But this method won’t work.”
She went on: "Unfortunately, the decision to release this ‘documentary’ was made at a high level. It might have been acceptable were it carried out by some revolutionary guys, or low-level elements. But this came from the Leader’s website. A higher opinion supported it.
"One ought to narrate history correctly, and leave the judgment to people. But in this ‘documentary’ we only heard the loud voice of Mr. Khamenei, whereas my father’s voice was barely audible. I wouldn’t have caught his words at all had the BBC or Iran International not subtitled the video. Mr. Khamenei speaks for three minutes; my father speaks for one second."
Rafsanjani’s Office Publishes Other Side of the Debate
Hours after the release of “Lessons of the Future”, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's office released a retaliatory video showing an interview he later gave to ISNA news agency on the matter. "We discussed a lot,” Rafsanjani says. “We argued for an hour or two and didn’t reach a conclusion. I said I couldn’t say anything else; it was between us and God. I said eventually on Judgement Day, you and I will be asked why all this damage and problems were created for the system, and for Muslims. I said if he accepted these responsibilities, then I had nothing more to say. The Leader said: ‘Yes, I will answer to God’.”
"My father,” Faezeh Hashemi said, “as a politician, considered relations with the world a necessity for governance. But now, unfortunately, they don’t care about this. Despite all the mismanagement of the country, no-one asks what goals these aggressive policies have achieved.”
“The West is Less Complex Than the East”
In the first video clip, Ali Khamenei had been shown emphasizing that he did not trust “the West”: a point he also hammered home in his final, unusually harsh address to Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet last week. During that meeting, Khamenei blamed the US for the failure of the most recent talks on a possible return to the JCPOA. “Others should use the experience of Mr. Rouhani’s govt,” he wrote on Twitter afterwards. “One experience is distrusting the West.”
In response to this, Faezeh Hashemi said: "Every first-year student in political sciences knows there is no place for trust in foreign relations. Realistically, power comes first, and interests come second. All countries are trying to derive benefit. No-one is looking for trust. But with good, reasonable negotiations within the framework of international principles, you can demand what you consider to be your right. I do wonder why Mr. Khamenei constantly pushes the argument that the West can’t be trusted.”
She went on to say that Iran’s relations with other, regional actors as endorsed by Ayatollah Khamenei had led to no better outcome. "We have auctioned our country off to Russia, China, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria,” she said, “and they all turned their backs on us. We have no allies at all. Our relations with China are catastrophic; our land, our fish and our electricity are being taken away by China and the 25-year agreement. They haven’t yet provided information about this agreement because they know how dirty they are, how they sold off the country.
“We beg Russia to help Syria, then Bashar al-Assad thanks Putin. Iran no longer has any place there. We spend all we have in Syria, and they give contracts to others, and Hamas takes the side of Saudi Arabia in debates on Syria. Iraq says that in terms of US sanctions, it has to pursue its own interests, and adjust its relations with Iran and the United States accordingly. For the sake of a show of strength in the UN Security Council, China and Russia might criticize the United States, but they abide by US sanctions in their relations with Iran.”
Faezeh Hashemi concluded: “The fact is, across all the written histories, films, conversations and memoirs of senior officials about our relations, one observes that the West doesn’t have the complexity and cunning of the East. That is, by comparison, the West is much simpler, more honest, and less complex than the East. But we’ve thrown ourselves into the lap of the East and are paying the price. We’re seeing everything one-sidedly; so one-sidedly that we purify the Taliban. To what purpose, I do not know.”