Reuters reports: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s historic phone call with U.S. President Barack Obama is likely to provoke resistance from powerful hardliners in the Islamic Republic who have built their support on enmity with the West.
The first thing Rouhani did on his return to Tehran at the weekend was to state that he had acted within guidelines set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei when he took part in the highest-level contact between Iran and the United States in three decades.
The brief mobile phone conversation led many to speculate that since the election of the moderate Rouhani relations between Washington and Tehran, in the deep freeze since the U.S. embassy hostage crisis, may be about to improve.
Rouhani’s invocation of Khamenei, the man at the top of Iran’s complex political system, looked like a bid to ward off a backlash from hardline power centres and their supporters, some of whom were already lying in wait to throw eggs at the president’s motorcade.
The demonstrators’ chants of “Death to America” were, however, likely to be only the opening shots of a campaign against Rouhani by a conservative political and military establishment opposed to the West in general and to the United States and Israel in particular.
Such is the mistrust between Iran and the United States that a big sticking point of negotiations over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme has been who should make the first move. [Continue reading…]