Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif yesterday expressed regret about a recording leaked of him making frank comments about the limits of his power, while separately, a US warship on Monday fired warning shots when vessels of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard came too close to a patrol in the Persian Gulf.
Zarif on Instagram offered his first public comments about the recording.
Zarif’s post included video of him at a memorial in Baghdad for former Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, a commander in the Revolutionary Guard who was killed in January last year in a US strike.
Zarif’s leaked remarks included cutting references to the limits of his power and Soleimani’s decisions overriding his priorities at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In a three-hour tape, Zarif was reported by the New York Times to have said that “in the Islamic Republic, the military field rules.”
“I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field [the Revolutionary Guard] servicing diplomacy,” the newspaper reported him as saying.
“I am very sorry how a secret, theoretical discussion about the necessity of increasing cooperation between diplomacy and the field — in order for the next officials to use the valuable experiences of the last eight years — became an internal conflict,” Zarif wrote.
Honest and compassionate remarks about what he perceived as wrong were being interpreted as personal criticism, he said.
“I did not censor myself, because this is a betrayal of the people,” Zarif wrote.
Meanwhile, the US Navy yesterday released black-and-white footage of Monday’s encounter in international waters.
In it, what appears to be a single gunshot can be heard, with a tracer round racing across the water.
The US Navy said that the USS Firebolt fired the warning shots after three Revolutionary Guard vessels came within 62m of it and the US Coast Guard patrol boat USCGC Baranoff.
Additional reporting by AFP
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