United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Khamenei on Diplomacy : “Heroic Flexibility”

      On September 17, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Revolutionary Guards commanders that he is not opposed to more flexible engagement with the outside world. “I am not against proper political moves in diplomacy. I believe in what was named many years ago as ‘heroic flexibility,’” Khamenei said. Flexibility “in certain circumstances is positive and necessary.” The supreme leader did not specify if he was referring to negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. But Khamenei’s comments may have signaled support for President Hassan Rouhani or Iranian diplomats to meet Western leaders during the U.N. General Assembly opening next week.
            Khamenei, however, also stressed the need to understand the goals of opposing powers. “A wrestler sometimes shows flexibility for technical reasons. But he should forget who his opponent and enemy is,” he said, according to Iranian news agencies. The supreme leader’s office tweeted a translation of his remarks.

           
            Khamenei advised Iranians to evaluate the controversy over Tehran’s nuclear program in the context of challenges from “tyrannical governments” and “predatory international networks.” Khamenei referred to the United States and the West as “alarmist” elsewhere in his comments.
            The supreme leader also echoed President Rouhani’s warning to the Guards, just one day earlier, not to interfere in politics. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “should know what it will guard. It is not necessary for it to act as a guard in the political scene, but it should know the political scene,” Khamenei said.  
 
Photo credit: Khamenei.ir via Facebook
 

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