Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, has strongly criticized U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments about a peaceful transition of power in Iran. The former chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) wrote on his Instragram account: “In his [Tillerson’s] view, a peaceful transition means outside pressure and inside retreat [of the Iranian government]. Pressure from outside means increasing sanctions and disrupting Iran’s foreign relations. And retreat inside the country means they can inject infiltrators into the [Iranian] government and decision-making apparatus so that they can transfer the power gradually. Mr. Tillerson’s mistake is that he ignores the role of the Iranian people and leadership [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei]. He has been busy in the business world over the past four decades and has not studied Iranian history. After four years, his ministry will understand Iran.”

Comment: Tillerson’s remarks on Wednesday at a Congressional hearing have raised a lot of questions and triggered angry reactions in Tehran. The top American diplomat told the House Foreign Relations Committee that the Trump administration was determined to counter Iran’s subversive activities in the Middle East. He added that while the administration had not finalized its Iran policy, its “policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony… and work towards support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.” 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter yesterday to denounce his American counterpart’s comments. “Before reverting to unlawful & delusional regime-change policy towards #Iran, US Administration should study and learn from history,” Zarif tweeted. He added that the “debacle” of the 1953 CIA-backed coup against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohmmad Mosaddegh and the success of the 1979 Islamic Revolution showed that “Iranian people are impervious to outside attempts to decide their destiny.” He continued: “For their own sake, US officials should worry more about saving their own regime than changing Iran’s, where 75% of people just voted.” 

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi also condemned Tillerson’s comments as “interventionist” and “in gross violation of compelling rules of international law.”