Circumstances have changed in Iran. After President Hassan Rouhani took office, the country adopted moderate rhetoric and openness in its foreign policy. Also, after the telephone conversation between Rouhani and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, in New York at the end of last year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting, discussions intensified in the country about the possibility of resuming relations between Tehran and Washington.
The system of government in the Islamic Republic includes various institutions and currents, and views among these have varied on normalisation of relations with the United States, Iran’s old enemy that worked to marginalise and isolate it internationally over the past three decades.
This paper examines the point of view of the Iranian government, and the reformists who do not reject the principle of convergence and are ready to implement it. It also addresses the position of the fundamentalist and hardline Revolutionary Guards, who reject any restoration of such relations, and the reasons for their rejection. It also examines Iranian public opinion that puts the lifting of the economic embargo imposed on Iran at the top of its priorities, regardless of how politicians and policymakers will achieve this objective.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States have a long history of conflict. Diplomatic relations between them were cut after the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. However, Tehran and Washington held several meetings to discuss regional issues of mutual interest, such as events in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, Iranian and American leaders met in the same room on several occasions on the sidelines of nuclear talks.
But Iran today is different. The first signs of change loomed on the horizon after the moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office, and after his adoption of an open communication with the West. This is in addition to the conveying of positive signals to the USA by Rouhani and some Iranian parties, after the eight-year rule of conservative radicalism, and after tough sanctions were imposed on the country because of its nuclear programme. These include a ban on oil imports from Iran, and a boycott of Iranian banks. The sanctions which had been imposed over the past eight years have had negative consequences on the Iranian people and on the overall economic situation. Iranians began to look towards the adoption of new policies by their politicians, that would signal an end to that stage through the revitalization of the economy, and openness to the rest of the world.
In contrast, many Iranian politicians have adopted a moderate language in support of dialogue with the West, after the lifting of economic sanctions had become a popular demand that had priority over other issues. However, the question of negotiating with an old enemy which follows a policy of isolating Iran, and was the main cause of the imposition of sanctions, has sparked controversy among political currents in Iran, whose political discourse and perception of the West in general, and the United States of America in particular, are different.
This paper will shed light on the differing positions of the political actors in Iran regarding rapprochement with the USA, the motives of those who support this convergence, and the reasons why some people oppose it. This is in addition to addressing the view of the Iranian people, which prioritises resolving Iran’s economic woes.
Policymakers: some are supporters; others are cautious and suspicious of the United States. Policymakers in Iran include various powers and political currents. So it is natural that views on Iranian-American rapprochement, which began after an overt US call on Iran to return to the negotiating table, will differ. Major actors in the Iranian arena can be discussed in several categories.
First: Institution of the Supreme Leader
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, has the final word on the country’s strategic issues, of which the Iranian nuclear issue and relations with the United States constitute the most important. The Leader had chosen to work under the banner of ‘the flexibility of the brave’. Iran’s conditions today are different, particularly in view of the fact that there are so many issues in the region which are being reshuffled. Tehran is now in need of soft attitudes without making fateful concessions. Regional and domestic circumstances have made it necessary for the Supreme Leader to give the government more room to reach a nuclear deal with the West, which makes Iran breathe an economic sigh of relief. This will imply a revival of its institutions, a fact that everybody will benefit from. But when it comes to normalisation directly with Washington, the personal stance of the Leader and his small circle of his advisors, such as his military affairs adviser, Rahim Safavi, and his representative in the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Ali Saeedi, will be different. The Supreme Leader already expressed that he was not optimistic about positive results from the nuclear negotiations. Earlier, he defined the meaning of dialogue with the USA as: ‘Dialogue in political tradition means engagement, and this means to get something for a price; what can we give America, and what will it give us in return? The problem for them lies in the fact that Iran sticks to the line of true Islam, and they want you to abandon this line. Are you ready to offer this price?’ In another speech, Khamenei insisted, ‘Iran does not trust the United States. The US government has no logic, behaves in a superior fashion towards others, and does not fulfil its promises. Iran cannot agree with a government that serves the Zionist network across the world. But we support the diplomatic moves of our government despite the lack of optimism on our part as to what the American side will give.’ He repeated that position during the thirty-fifth anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, when he confirmed his support for Rouhani’s government. He directed his speech to those who had criticised the policies of openness and the way of dialogue with major countries, asking them to give the government more time. ‘The politicians who criticise negotiations with the major powers on Iran’s nuclear programme are invited to show some leniency towards the government, which took office only a few months ago and should be given more time to advance strongly in its plans,’ he said. He then blasted the USA, saying it would have topple the Iranian government if it had had the opportunity, and adding that Washington had adopted an approach characterised by domination and interference in the internal affairs of his country. An analysis of these speeches, with a focus on Khamenei’s position towards nuclear negotiations, and noting that the Leader did not object to the phone call between Rouhani and Obama after the last UN General Assembly meeting in New York, that he did not object to bilateral meetings between the foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, and US secretary of state, John Kerry, on the sidelines of talks between Iran and the 5+1, in addition to announcing his support for the negotiating team formed by Rouhani, and calling on all parties inside Iran to give them space, we see that the Leader has adopted a cautious stance. He thus stands against any rush towards normalisation of bilateral relations with Washington, but does not close the door on the possibility of better ties with the West in general. He hopes this will improve the domestic Iranian situation, and Iran’s image abroad, and will at least reassure the world of Iran’s good intentions after the isolation of his country. Khamenei seems to want to say that Iran has decided to dialogue with the devil to ward off potential disasters. This cautious and pessimistic attitude also explains that the Leader, at this stage, occupies the middle ground between the government, which does not reject rapprochement with Washington, and those who reject this convergence, such as the Revolutionary Guards and hardline conservatives. The position and motives of the Supreme Leader can be summarised as follows:
Despite his lack of optimism about the results in the long run, Khamenei agrees implicitly to limited convergence with the USA, seeking to resolve outstanding issues on the country’s nuclear programme and hoping to ease economic sanctions. At the same time, he is careful about opening the door to dialogue on many aspects of bilateral relations between Tehran and Washington. However, in the current conjuncture, he is prepare to give the green light for negotiations between the two countries exclusively with relation to the nuclear issue.
- Iran’s interests require the adoption of a discourse of ‘the flexibility of the brave’. The Iranian regional and national security roles requires such a move.
- There are historical reasons behind Khamenei’s caution about the rush to normalise relations with the United States. This attitude stems from the fact that he was a leading icon of the Islamic Revolution, and could thus not condemn the slogan ‘Death to America’, which goes back to the beginning of the revolution. Moreover, many currents in Iran cannot forget this slogan or ignore it after years of hostility.
- The Leader is trying to cover all currents in Iran with his cloak. Therefore, he prevents condemnation of the government’s efforts, and adopts the position of those who have been hostile to America historically. He also tries to bridge the gap between the people and political power after Iranians have paid a high price as a result of the economic embargo.
- These positions from the top authority in Iran means that it wants to keep up with regional and international developments, and attempt to end its isolation. This is in addition to having the embargo lifted and the pressure on it reduced, while maintaining its national security.
Second: Rafsanjani and the moderates With the reasons for hostility against the USA vanishing, Rafsanjani and the moderates support conditional convergence based on confidence-building. This view seems to be the strongest among all parties, for as long as the Leader uses the ‘flexibility of the brave’ discourse which has gained the support of the majority of the public. This moderate line, the third stance between the right and the left in Iran, emerged after the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, with its most prominent historical symbol being Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a companion of Imam Khomeini, and second in importance after Khamenei. Rafsanjani is a pillar of the regime, is regarded regionally and internationally as a symbol of Iranian moderation, and is a strong supporter of Rouhani. For a long while, he has been regarded as a controversial figure. He has argued that the slogan ‘Death to America’ was neither mentioned in the Qur’an nor in Islam, and that Khomeini had not objected to discarding the slogan. This sparked much confusion in various circles in Iran, especially among hardline clerics. Rafsanjani believes it is natural for Iran to resume relations with the USA, but only if the causes of the crisis are settled. Like the majority of Iran’s political leadership, he believes that there has been historical enmity from the Americans against Iran from after the Islamic revolution, and that Washington adopted and nourished hostile policies designed to isolate Iran internationally and demonise it around the world. On the other hand, Rafsanjani believes that Iran needs to rebuild itself from the inside, and to improve its regional and international image. In his opinion, this means the ability to confront US policy, compelling it to review its previous position and negotiate with Tehran. Rafsanjani emphasises ‘facing US policy with moderation and openness’ because that would mean a decline in US aimed at demonising Iran. During his two presidential terms, Rafsanjani had adopted a policy of rebuilding Iran after the end of the eight-year war with Iraq. He improved the country’s relations with other countries in the region and with Europe. He repeatedly said that America was the primary world power, and asked about whether there was any difference between Europe, China and the United States. ‘If Iran has dialogue with these countries, he asked, why not with America?’ Rafsanjani and his companions do not advocate making concessions to the USA because they regard hostility with the US government as political, not ideological. However, they favour rapprochement with the USA because it can provide Iran with a way out of the economic blockade. This view contradicts slightly with the position that does mistrusts the USA, and believes that America wants to inhibit the movements of Iran. Third, Rouhani’s government President Rouhani is considered close to Rafsanjani, who is also the head of the Expediency Council. However, Rouhani’s government is considered the operational tool for the implementation of Iran’s foreign policy, despite the fact that the government is trying to implement Rafsanjani’s policy of moderation. But the government remains within the limits set by the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards, attempting to reconcile between the different views in the country. Rouhani enjoys good relations with the Supreme Leader, and is a prominent member of Hawza. However he holds the key of diplomacy in his hand, and sees the easing of hostility with other countries as the solution to the dilemma of the Iranian nuclear programme. He claims to have full authority to negotiate with the West on Iran’s nuclear programme. Rouhani appointed Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had extensive contacts with the Americans during Rafsanjani’s and Mohammad Khatami’s presidential terms, as foreign minister. He also transferred the nuclear issue from the National Security Council to the foreign ministry, and handed it over to moderates. This gave the government’s negotiating position a diplomatic form that is premised on the alleviation of the negative foreign policy discourse toward the USA and the West, with emphasis on the constants. Since the presidential campaign, Rouhani has promoted the idea that solving Iran’s problems lay in two areas: foreign policy first, and the economy second. The most notable of these problems is the sanctions imposed on Iran. Rouhani’s programme stresses the need for interaction between Iran and other countries of the world, and even the integration of its revolutionary regime with the international community, under the approach of what he called ‘constructive engagement’. This is in addition to intensifying efforts to develop Iran’s relations with others, and giving a greater role to diplomacy to take on difficult question, such as the nuclear programme, and relations with the USA and neighbouring countries, especially those in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In an article in the Washington Post entitled ‘Why is Iran seeking to engage constructively?’, Rouhani explained the new Iranian approach toward the world, and announced the beginning of a new era in his country’s interaction with the world, according to an agenda of dialogue, reconciliation and constructive engagement. ‘The world has changed. International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.’ He stressed that he intended to follow a policy of reconciliation and constructive dialogue. He directed his words to the international community and the USA, pointing out that diplomatic convergence did not mean making fateful concessions, but was a commitment to the principle of equality and mutual respect to dispel fears that hamper relations between the two sides to achieve common goals. The president and his government’s stances do not reject the principle of direct negotiations with the USA, but, rather, indicates a desire to resume relations with it.If rapprochement with the USA met the requirement of ‘the flexibility of the brave’ set by the Supreme Leader, he argued, it would achieve the following: <ol " start="1"> Lifting of the economic embargo imposed by the USA on Iran, the release of frozen Iranian assets in US banks, and even lifting of most western sanctions. At the same time, convergence will provide recognition of the right of Iran to possess a nuclear programme, with its obligation to fulfil the Geneva Accord and the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Rouhani addressed the Supreme Leader after the Geneva agreement, and confirmed his loyalty, hoping to get a green light to continue with his efforts as long as they met the Leader’s conditions. Recognition of a regional role for Iran as rapprochement with the USA will lead to bilateral cooperation on Middle East issues and a resolution of some of the region’s crises, such as the Syrian crisis. The Iranian government is concerned with the implementation of the views of the citizens who elected it. Rouhani repeatedly mentioned this in his speeches when he talked about his intentions not to betray those who voted for him, economically and politically. This matter requires rapprochement with the most influential power in the world.Fourth: Reformists The reformist current, led by former president Mohammad Khatami and his supporters, who are still under the cloak of the Islamic Republic, experienced a revival after Rouhani had won presidential elections. This after its absence from the political scene since the 2009 election crisis – when reformists supported Mir Hossein Mousavi’s disputing of election results – and the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. This current’s vision seems clear and explicit, and favours rapprochement with the USA and direct dialogue with it, based on the following:
- Rapprochement with the USA is consistent with the political discourse of the reformists, who have long wondered about the reason for continued hostility with the USA, at a time when rapprochement may gain much benefit for Iran.
- Any rapprochement with Washington implies a return of the reformists to the political arena, and the rise of this trend after years of absence. It has been noted that after the election of Rouhani, the door had been widely opened for the reformists, their newspapers and books. Rumours also began to circulate about the impending lifting of the house arrest imposed on 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
- During the two presidential terms of Khatami, the reformists suspended uranium enrichment, and chose pacification to alleviate the pressure on Iran. They fear military action against Iran, and therefore encourage diplomacy and direct dialogue with the USA.
- The reformists have repeatedly pointed out that any relationship with the USA does not necessarily mean a departure from the system of the Islamic Republic. This is an attempt to distance themselves from the accusation in 2009 that some of them had plotted against the regime. Despite the reformists’ explicit call for remedying what hardline politicians had ruined with Washington, they have increasing fears that the focus of Rouhani’s government on reforming the Iran’s foreign relations and improving relations with the West will be at the expense of internal reforms and support for political and cultural freedoms inside Iran.Fifth: The religious establishment in Iran (the hawza or seminary) Within Iran’s religious establishment, there are clerics affiliated with the fundamentalist current and others who are moderate. According to various statements, the viewpoints of the hawza clerics are close to the viewpoint of Khamenei. It is no secret, however, that some of the hawza clerics have reservations about the actions of the militants, and their harsh criticism of government policies in approaching the West and beginning dialogue with it. These clerics believe Iran is passing through circumstances that require internal unity more than ever before, and they focus on the need to maintain the internal unity of the country. They also believe it is necessary to spare Iran any additional problems between political groups, which may detract from attempts to solve the economic crisis, which has become the main demand of all Iranians. They argue that if convergence was the key to lifting the burden on citizens, there is no harm in it. Many clerics see nothing negative in negotiating with the West to resolve the nuclear issue, and nothing negative in opening discussion with the USA, as long as red lines are not crossed and principles of the Islamic Republic are not violated. According to them, negotiations can maintain the dignity of Iranians and save the country from paying the price of the economic embargo imposed on it. Apart from these five trends, there are also those who are absolutely opposed to reaching out to the ‘Great Satan’.
First, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) This institution stands absolutely against any rapprochement with the USA. A number of its senior officials harshly criticised the Geneva nuclear accord with the West, and the foreign policies of Rouhani and Zarif, arguing that such policies tend towards liberal western politics. Last September, IRGC commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, even criticised the Rouhani-Obama phone call, describing it as premature. However, the Supreme Leader’s support of Rouhani and the nuclear deal kept the conservative elements within the IRGC under control. This can be deduced from a recent statement by Jafari in which he said, ‘The Revolutionary Guards will keep silent about this issue because we do not want to give the opportunity to anyone to mess inside Iran.’ There are a number of reasons for the Guards’ opposition.
- The IRGC regards the USA as a force of global arrogance which antagonise the Islamic Republic of Iran, and
- with a force based on domination and hegemony in the world.
- The Guards’ consider any agreement between Iran and the USA as a threat to the ideological basis of the power of the IRGC, which is responsible for maintaining the institution of ‘velayat-e-faqih’ (rule of the jurist), the protection of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its national security, and the gains of the Islamic revolution . Also, any Iranian-American rapprochement could mean a serious decline in the role of the IRGC, which regards America as the ‘Great Satan’.
- The IRGC is an Iranian force that protects the axis of resistance. It supports Hizbullah and the Palestinian resistance factions, in addition to being the military establishment which secures the interests of the Islamic Republic across the world. It is a force stationed in the Gulf waters to confront the US military presence there. Thus, any relationship with America will necessarily mean a decline in this role.
- Considering the economic crisis, there are virtually no alternative options for the Guards to the foreign policy pursued by Rouhani. However, they lead very important economic sectors inside and outside Iran. This was started during Ahmadinejad’s tenure as president, to save the local economy and to circumvent the embargo imposed on Iran. There is no doubt that the success of Rouhani’s foreign policy, specifically rapprochement with the West, would reduce this economic role, particularly if a significant part of the sanctions are lifted. It is clear that Rouhani is aware of this issue, as he has called on the guards to reduce the role of the military in the economy. Rouhani was armed with the
- regarding the need of this institution to distance itself from the political arena,
- and with the popular momentum which supports a nuclear deal with the West.
Second: Radical fundamentalists This current publicly calls for no negotiations, convergence or relations with the USA. Some members of the Iranian parliament from this current criticised government policies, the president and the foreign minister, arguing that the interim agreement between Tehran and the 5+1 which was drafted last February and which is expected to be subjected to further rounds of negotiations to convert it to a final and comprehensive agreement – is in the interest of the western countries, while its advantages to Iran are modest. They add that the agreement exposes the Iranian nuclear programme to danger. This group argues that the government has made significant concessions by agreeing to cut part of Iran’s nuclear activities in return for a partial easing of international sanctions, and believes that the interim agreement did not guarantee this right. Around 100 radical fundamentalists waited for Rouhani’s return from the UN General Assembly meeting at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, expressing their anger with his phone conversation with Obama, and chanting ‘Death to America’. This current does not trust the USA, and refuses to sit with the Americans at the same table, because of the following:
- The USA is an historical enemy that attempted to pre-empt Iran’s Islamic Revolution, and has tried to sow discord inside Iran to overthrow the Islamic regime. Hostility with the USA has been the main reason behind all Iran’s achievements over the past three decades. Any relations in the political and other contexts cannot be established without making concessions, and the radicals do not agree to make any concessions. Radical fundamentalists believe any rapprochement between Tehran and Washington will imply modifying domestic politics, which means marginalising their role within the country. Some conservatives repeat certain statements against rapprochement or dialogue with the USA with the aim of setting limits to Rouhani’s foreign policy, demanding that the USA should first change its behaviour towards Iran.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Leader does not oppose the government’s actions, one cannot underestimate the ability of conservatives who have the power to curb and possibly abort Rouhani’s rapprochement policy. They have a strong grip on the country and have the instruments of power, including their strong presence in the Shura Council. They can withdraw confidence from the foreign minister or any minister in the government, and can approve new laws and force the government to implement them. For example, some MPs began to prepare a draft resolution to increase uranium enrichment by sixty per cent. If this resolution is voted upon, the Geneva Accord and any unexpected conciliatory Iranian approach toward the United States would be undermined. They repeatedly cite the Leader, claiming he does not trust America, and that he is not optimistic about the course of nuclear negotiations. Iranian society between living concerns and openness The election of Rouhani ended a crisis that Iran had faced since the 2009 protests. With Rouhani as president, Iranian citizens’ expectations of an end to their economic woes have increased. This has become the basic requirement of all Iranians, irrespective of how it might be achieved. After Rouhani’s return from the UN General Assembly and after receiving severe criticism, he spoke of a poll to gauge the opinion of Iranians regarding reshaping their country's relations with the United States. Soon thereafter, a presidential spokesperson announced that the result of the opinion poll revealed that eighty per cent of those who participated agreed to change the course of Iranian-American relations, and twenty per cent did not want to develop relations, but wanted to end use of the slogan ‘Death to America’ on formal occasions and Friday sermons. Meanwhile, another twenty per cent rejected the development of bilateral relations, and insisted that the slogan ‘Death to America’ continues to be used. Despite the lack of recognition of the results of the poll, which was considered informal, it is possible at least to classify the Iranian street as pros and cons in all cases. Iranians, as mentioned earlier, want a sound economic system following their suffering under the sanctions which have had deleterious effects on them. Despite the stances of those who oppose rapprochement with the USA and support the idea of a resistance economy, or those who support convergence and believe that openness to the world and a resolution to the main problems with the USA will lead to a better economy and end sanctions, the economy is the decisive factor for all. It concerns the Iranian citizen who is fanatically nationalist, and will not agree to make a fateful concession that will affect their sovereignty. Important for them in terms of foreign policy are those issues that affect their day-to-day living. The Iranian citizen agrees with the politicians, in some way, that the USA was the cause of the imposition of the embargo, and the isolation and demonisation on the international stage. But there is a difference between Iranians regarding the type of confrontation, and the method of reviewing their country’s foreign policy. Some Iranians who support convergence feel it should be on the basis of two peers, and all of them agree that it would help Iran in openness towards the outside world and settling many of their country’s issues. They believe that if reasons for enmity disappear, there should be no enmity. Among these groups are young people in major cities, businesspeople, industrialists and traders who have been influenced by sanctions and the currency devaluation. Those who reject convergence and even the removal of the slogan ‘Death to America’ from the public lexicon, mostly live in rural areas and villages. They constitute the main base for recruitment of the Basij militias and the students of seminaries. All of them cling to the view that America is the historical enemy of Iran, which supported the Shah who was overthrown by the Islamic revolution, and is an ally of Israel and other enemies of Iran. Summary Various active parties in the Iranian political arena agree that the USA followed hostile policies towards Tehran, and was the reason for the mobilisation of international pressure against it over the past decades. Differences of opinion about the Iranian-American convergence between political groups in Iran represents an articulation of positions in a manner that will maintain the political balance in the country regarding a strategic and almost doctrinal issue that concerns the Islamic Revolution. Although each party is firmly committed to its position, this articulation and these differences indicate that Iran stands waiting at this stage, and is testing the intentions of the West, and awaits the removal of ambiguity regarding certain regional realities and future developments. It is certain that, for the first time, there is something approximating an Iranian internal consensus, regarding the review of relations with neighbouring countries, the West and the USA. The vigilance of all Iranian parties regarding the approach of the dialogue and rapprochement with the USA will remain, in the coming period, the main issue. It is also clear that the compromise approach approved by the Supreme Leader is convenient to everyone to deal with the requirements of this matter in the current stage, because it is not in the interests of any party to increase internal tensions. The results of the negotiations on the final nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers will have the decisive word in the internal equation of Iran. If the government achieves success and resolves the nuclear issue, and succeeds in significantly easing sanctions, the reconciliatory and moderate approach will be enhanced and will gain further public support. If, however, Washington does not respond quickly to Rouhani’s openness, it will negatively affect his legitimacy and strengthen his opponents’ argument. The Supreme Leader may then withdraw support for Rouhani’s government if Rouhani goes too far in his openness to the USA and the West, without Khamenei’s consent. However, most Iranian analysts believe such a struggle is unlikely because Rouhani is a son of the regime, and because everyone is keen to find internal consensual formulas, and prevent unproductive conflicts about the subject of rapprochement. ⃰Farah Al Zaman Abu Shuair is a researcher specialised in Iranian Affairs Endnotes:  ‘Khamenei: This is the time for “flexibility of the brave”’, Khudnevis, September 2014, https://khodnevis.org/article/52658#.UwzzCaxWHIU.  ‘Statements at the meeting of Azerbaijani people’, Official website of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, 17 February 2014, http://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=25363.  ‘Why no talks with America and absolutely no relations’, Motalefe Party website, 7 April 2013, http://motalefe-party.com/Detaill_news.asp.  ‘Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks about the relationship with America’, Zohur, 5 October 2013, http://zohur.net/%D8%B3%D8%AE%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%D8%A2%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B3.htm.  ‘Address before officers and commanders of the Air Force’, Khamenei’s website, 8 February 2014, http://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=25260.  ‘Rafsanjani: Imam agreed to remove “Death to America”’, Bultan News, 29 September 2013, http://www.bultannews.com/fa/news/170689/%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B3%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AD%D8%B0%D9%81-%D8%B4%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B1%DA%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%82-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%86%D8%AF.  ‘Kayhan criticises Rafsanjani’s removal of the slogan “Death to America”’, Khabar online, 16 May 2013, http://khabaronline.ir/detail/316267/Politics/parties.  ‘Does Hashemi Rafsanjani support negotiations with America? 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Iranians embraced my approach to domestic and international affairs because they saw it as long overdue. 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