This week’s ‘Zarif-Gate’ audio leak has caused a shake-up in Iran’s presidential office, reportedly leading to the resignation Hessameddin Ashena, head of the Strategic Studies Center (a think tank closely associated with the Iranian presidency), as he was present during the interview with Zarif. The top Iranian diplomat had essentially said it was the military leadership that sets policy.
Article from Zero Hedge.
“Hesamodin Ashena of the Center for Strategic Studies resigned over ‘the theft’ of the three-hour tape of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif being interviewed at the CSS,” AFP reports Thursday. “Ashena, who held the post of Iranian deputy intelligence minister in the 2000s, has headed the center since 2013 and also serves as adviser to President Hassan Rouhani.”
But it’s not enough for Islamic hardliners representing the clerical and military establishment, who are now calling for Zarif to step down immediately, also given his remarks were taken as disparaging toward the late “national hero” Soleimani.
The interview, which was reportedly captured months ago and was never meant to be made public, included Zarif speaking with surprising frankness and criticism toward the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Islamic Republic. He bluntly admitted, for example, that the powerful IRGC often overrides government decisions and that the late Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani’s actions often harmed diplomacy. Even Iranian newspapers described the leak as a major “scandal” which embarrassed Iran on the world stage at a moment of “progress” at the Vienna nuclear talks.
In his first public comments since the scandal, Zarif said in an Instagram post that he’s committed to “protecting the interests” of the country and Iranian people. He expressed regret, but stopped short of a direct apology:
“I am very sorry how a secret, theoretical discussion about the necessity of increasing cooperation between diplomacy and the field (the Guard) — in order for the next officials to use the valuable experiences of the last eight years –- became an internal conflict,” Zarif wrote.
“I did not censor myself, because this is a betrayal of the people,” he added.
“I have always been subject to the policies approved by the country and I have strongly defended them. But in expressing my expert opinion, I have considered seeking forgiveness, appeasement, and self-censorship as betrayal,” he said, essentially suggesting it was the leak itself that was a betrayal.
“Zarif also says that by assassinating [Soleimani] in Iraq, the United States delivered a major blow to Iran, more damaging than if it had wiped out an entire city in an attack.” https://t.co/J7tFMnspzg
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) April 26, 2021
While the widespread international coverage of the leaked tapes triggered a firestorm of debate within Iran which in typical fashion pitted the Islamic hardliners against ‘moderates’ (Zarif and Rouhani are widely seen within the “moderate” camp that seeks engagement with the West), it appears the Iranian top diplomat’s job is safe, for now.
There’s speculation that the leak was intended to sabotage Vienna talks, which is viewed by deep suspicion within the Iranian hardliner political camp – particularly represented in parliament and among the Shia clerical establishment.
‘The Purge’ by Big Tech targets conservatives, including us
Just when we thought the Covid-19 lockdowns were ending and our ability to stay afloat was improving, censorship reared its ugly head.
For the last few months, NOQ Report, Conservative Playbook, and the American Conservative Movement have appealed to our readers for assistance in staying afloat through Covid-19 lockdowns. The downturn in the economy has limited our ability to generate proper ad revenue just as our traffic was skyrocketing. We had our first sustained stretch of three months with over a million visitors in November, December, and January, but February saw a dip.
It wasn’t just the shortened month. We expected that. We also expected the continuation of dropping traffic from “woke” Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but it has actually been much worse than anticipated. Our Twitter account was banned. Both of our YouTube accounts were banned. Facebook “fact-checks” everything we post. Spotify canceled us. Medium canceled us. Apple canceled us. Why? Because we believe in the truth prevailing, and that means we will continue to discuss “taboo” topics.
The 2020 presidential election was stolen. You can’t say that on Big Tech platforms without risking cancellation, but we’d rather get cancelled for telling the truth rather than staying around to repeat mainstream media’s lies. They have been covering it up since before the election and they’ve convinced the vast majority of conservative news outlets that they will be harmed if they continue to discuss voter fraud. We refuse to back down. The truth is the truth.
The lies associated with Covid-19 are only slightly more prevalent than the suppression of valid scientific information that runs counter to the prescribed narrative. We should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccines, for example, as there is ample evidence for concern. One does not have to be an “anti-vaxxer” in order to want answers about vaccines that are still considered experimental and that have a track record in a short period of time of having side-effects, including death. One of our stories about the Johnson & Johnson “vaccine” causing blood clots was “fact-checked” and removed one day before the government hit the brakes on it. These questions and news items are not allowed on Big Tech which is just another reason we are getting canceled.
There are more topics that they refuse to allow. In turn, we refuse to stop discussing them. This is why we desperately need your help. The best way NOQ, CP, and ACM readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We are on track to be short by about $4100 per month in order to maintain operations.
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During that four-month stretch, Twitter and Facebook accounted for about 20% of our traffic. We are actively working on operating as if that traffic is zero, replacing it with platforms that operate more freely such as Gab, Parler, and others. While we were never as dependent on Big Tech as most conservative sites, we’d like to be completely free from them. That doesn’t mean we will block them, but we refuse to be beholden to companies that absolutely despise us simply because of our political ideology.
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