Intensification of the crisis at the head of the rule
On the eve of the February 23 deadline, when Iranian officials were to withdraw from the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and restrict International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, Hassan Rouhani’s government naturally reached an interim agreement with the IAEA Director General with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei approval. According to IAEA chief Rafael Grossi’s press conference, the Iranian government will allow nuclear inspectors to continue inspecting and verifying Iranian government nuclear sites over the next three months. Although apparently the Iranian government is withdrawing from the Additional Protocol. This agreement is essentially a humiliating retreat from the deadline set by the parliament (Majlis) for February 23.
Parliament reacts sharply to the agreement with the nuclear agency
With this news, the Iranian parliament revolted against Rouhani’s government. Parliament extraordinarily removed the budget review from the agenda. In a speech, Mojtaba Zonnour, head of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, called this act of the government, the ignorance of the parliament’s resolution and demanded that no government official be allowed to enter parliament until the government rescinds the agreement with the IAEA. He subsequently drafted a complaint, which was signed by a majority of 221 MPs. The complaint is addressed to the head of state regarding Rouhani and the government’s refusal to pass a parliamentary resolution.
The report of the Security Commission of the Majlis states: “Pursuant to Article (234) of the Rules of Procedure of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Mr. President and all violators and disenfranchised persons shall be immediately introduced to the Judiciary, in accordance with the said law. It should be urgently dealt with in turn and in the usual formalities.”
Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the parliament speaker, tweeted in response to Rouhani’s agreement with Grossi: “The implementation of the Additional Protocol will be completely suspended from February 23. Any access beyond the safeguard is strictly prohibited and illegal. Any extra-safeguard cooperation with the Agency in the future, according to Article 7, requires a decision of the Parliament. Article 9 of the law will guarantee its strict implementation.”
“The parliament withdrew from its official agenda yesterday due to the government’s dubious understanding with the agency and the strong possibility of violating the Strategic Action Law,” said Malik Shariani, a member of parliament.
Khamenei’s hasty stance
This is the worst crisis at the head of the government in the last eight years. Because of this, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei was immediately forced to intervene. Khamenei, who understands the danger of escalating the crisis and the formation of an uprising better than anyone, immediately called for a solution to the dispute.
Khamenei wrote: “I heard today that there is a difference of opinion between the government and the parliament, that is, between what the government has done and the perception that the parliament has. This disagreement must be resolved. These differences should not be left alone or exacerbated and show ambiguity. No, this has a solution, and they must solve it. Ultimately, the government commits itself to enforcing the law. The law is a good law and must be acted upon carefully. The two sides should work together to make this happen.” (State TV, February 22)
Passivity of Rouhani’s government
Thus, Khamenei, fearing the formation of a rift at the head of the government, which he knows will lead to an uprising of the people, came to the fore and tried to calm down the situation.
In response to Khamenei’s remarks, Rouhani’s government immediately threw the ball on the parliament’s court, saying: “The government has always acted in dialogue and interaction, especially with other forces, by welcoming and following the order of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution regarding the consensus of the government and parliament. And will make every effort to organize the country’s economy, people’s livelihood and the dignified and wise lifting of sanctions.”
“At the same time, if the esteemed Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament) considers such a clever move to be against its law and intends to deactivate the joint statement, it must take responsibility for the consequences with the people and be responsible for all the costs involved.”
Rouhani certainly knows that this time the situation is more complicated. That is why he must wait for the attacks of the parliament in the upcoming days and weeks which will intensify the fragile situation of the regime.