Iran’s Mixed Reaction to Obama Video

The headlines are oddly mixed. The Bangkok Post writes, “Iran welcomes Obama’s olive branch”, yet even within it we read:

“We welcome the wish of the president of the United States to put away past differences,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s press adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr said in reaction to Obama’s message at Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, in which he urged a resolution of differences and an “honest” engagement.

“But the way to do that is not by Iran forgetting the previous hostile and aggressive attitude of the United States,” Javanfekr said. “The American administration has to recognise its past mistakes and repair them as a way to put away the differences.”

~ Bangkok Post, 20 March 2009, Breaking News

On the same day, The Daily Telegraph wrote a more neutral piece entitled “Iran responds to Barack Obama’s video appeal with nuclear pledge“.

Yet, on 22 March 2009, the Telegraph posted, “Iran rejects Barack Obama’s hand of friendship”.

Iran’s all-powerful ayatollahs have brushed aside US president Barack Obama’s historic offer to end the three-decade long hostility between the two countries.

Speaking a day after Mr Obama broadcast a message inviting the Iranian people to a “new beginning”, the country’s supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissed it as a “slogan”.

“They give the slogan of change but in practice no change is seen,” said Mr Khamenei in a televised address on Saturday to mark Iranian New Year. “We haven’t seen any change.”

~ Tim Shipman,, World News

We are seeing quite a mixed reaction from Iran, but that probably doesn’t surprise you. You are probably aware that there are 2 sides to the Iranian government. While ostensibly a republic, it is really a theocracy. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians. They have a unicameral, or one house, parliament called “Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami” or “Islamic Consultative Assembly”. Candidates that run for the Majles must also be approved by the Council of Guardians. Legislation passed by the Majles must be approved by the Council of Guardians.1

We have seen in the past, though, that the secular government and the ruling Council of Guardians do not always see eye-to-eye on matters. However, given that just about everything is subject to the approval of the Council of Guardians, reformists have had their hands tied.

That isn’t to say that the present government, headed up by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hasn’t been the darling of the ruling Council. In general, he is as much of a hard-liner as any on the Council and in some ways may even be more fanatical.

However, given this split of the secular government that presents a veneer of democracy and the controlling Council, it isn’t surprising that, on occasion, seemingly contradictory statements may be issued in cases like this. The key is to not make the mistake the Bangkok Post made and jump upon conciliatory statements by the secular government as a positive sign, when they are not really the ones in power.

However, this does raise an interesting question in my mind: Is this the type of internal inconsistency that is meant by iron mixed with clay? Will the inability to stick together for the end-time Beast power not just be cultural? It appears that political ambitions will overcome cultural and even sovereignty issues, as the ten will become power hungry enough to eventually subordinate their authority to one. It has been traditionally believed that this ambition, commerce and religion would be the glue to hold it together. However, is this true? The ten will hate the Great Whore, and they will throw her off of the Beast eventually and kill her (Rev 17:16). Undoubtedly, this is what creates a vacuum of power and leads to someone raising up and declaring himself as “god”. It seems to me that religion will be, once again, used by those with ambition, and once they achieve what they desire, they will cast off the Great Whore. Undoubtedly, similar tensions, perhaps even worse ones, will exist in the Beast as they do today in Iran on a smaller scale.

Am I off-base here?


  1. Politics of Iran“, Wikipedia

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