Leaked audio tapes that reveal the behind-the-scenes power struggles of Iranian officials have recently been published by the New York Times. In the leaks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lamented that it is the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who implements policy, overruling governmental decisions.
During the recording that was recovered on Sunday, Zarif revealed several damning accusations against the late Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. Suleimani was the notorious commander of the IGRC’s Quds Force, who was assassinated by the United States in January 2020.
According to Zarif, Suleimani undermined him every step of the way, colluding with Russia to torpedo the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal between Tehran and the western nations.
Zarif explained that Russia didn’t want the accord to succeed. He said that Moscow “put all its weight” behind establishing hurdles because it wasn’t in Russia’s interests for Iran to normalize relations with the West. Zarif said that Suleimani even went to Russia to “demolish our achievement.”
“In the Islamic Republic the military field rules,” Zarif claimed in an hours-long taped dialogue that was a part of an oral history presentation documenting the accomplishments of Iran’s government. “I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field servicing diplomacy.”
The recorded conversation took place in March between Zarif and economist Saeed Leylaz. Leylaz was a loyalist and the recordings weren’t intended for publication as the foreign minister repeatedly stated on the audio. A copy was leaked to the London-based Persian news channel Iran International, who initially leaked the recording and shared it with NYT.
Zarif confirmed what many suspect was the true dynamics of the leadership in Tehran, specifically that the supreme leader or, frequently, the Revolutionary Guards Corps are the ones who call the shots regarding policy.
Iran’s foreign ministry didn’t deny the recording’s authenticity but did question the motivation for the leak.
In the sections that were leaked, Zarif praises the Soleimani saying that they cooperated together productively in the onset of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. He added that by assassinating Soleimaniin Iraq, Washington delivered a major blow to Iran, more devastating than if it had wiped out an entire city in an attack.