By Mahmoud Hakamian
One member of the Iranian Regime’s parliament called for a major shift in foreign policy in an unprecedented speech on Sunday, saying that the current foreign policy has “a lot of unneeded costs”, which can “leave [the Regime] paralyzed on the streets of Tehran”.
According to the state-run ISNA news agency, MP Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi said: “Although our influence in the region is important, but one point should not be forgotten, and that is, sometimes it is possible that unneeded costs can cripple us on Tehran streets”.
In these comments, made before the start of parliament’s official agenda, Rahimi Jahanabadi, who is leader of the Sunni parliamentarians, said that “unneeded costs, which are not a priority should be removed”, citing the example of the former Soviet Union, which eventually fell apart despite its nuclear arsenal and global influence.
He said: “When the Soviet Union collapsed, it had 13,000 nuclear warheads and had influence in more than twenty countries and a space station, but it was torn apart on Moscow streets, losing its security and territorial integrity."
While it is interesting that these comments were made in the Iranian Regime’s parliament, it is hard to assess how Rahimi Jahanabadi, a so-called reformist, could contradict the country's foreign policy set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. After all, Khamenei sets the agenda and the rest of the Regime are expected to fall into line.
Rahimi Jahanabadi, who came to the parliament from an academic background and was in charge of presidential documents more than ten years ago, also brought up the economic hardships that are faced by everyday Iranians in his speech.
He said: “Today, people have difficulty to make a living and feed their children. If we fail to resolve the problem of unnecessary domestic and foreign expenditures, we will bear heavy costs. What we need at home we should take care of it…We need to find friends, reduce tensions and increase cooperation in the region and focus on the economy as our top priority…”
The economy has only gotten worse over the past year, with more than 80% of Iranians living below the poverty line, yet the Regime has failed to do anything about it. These problems are largely due to the increased international isolation of Iran, due to Khamenei's anti-Western and rhetoric and his interventionist policies across the Middle East, which have prolonged the war in Syria and exacerbated the Yemeni crisis.
Many critics of the Supreme Leader have pointed this out in recent years, but open criticism of the Supreme Leader's foreign policy in parliament is unprecedented, even if Khamenei’s name was not mentioned