Top political figures call for unity in meeting with Rouhani

May 13, 2019

TEHRAN – The top political figures who were invited by President Hassan Rouhani for an iftar dinner on Saturday evening have praised the administration’s initiative to gather round members of rival political factions and called for continuation of such meetings which will help strengthen unity in the country.

According to the Iran newspaper, during the meeting, all of the attendees acknowledged that the Iranian people are faced with harsh economic condition and called on the Rouhani administration to take steps to remedy the situation. 

Speaking at the event, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, a former top lawmaker, referred to the notion of talks with the United States, likening the idea to being fooled by the same person twice.

“The people’s real issue is unemployment, not being allowed to listen to a signer, which everyone has easy access to, and there’s no problem there,” said Haddad-Adel, a conservative politician. “The people want management and seriousness from the government,” he added.

He also appealed for unity among different factions, saying although there are disagreements on domestic issues, all political groups must support the government to deal with the foreign threat.

Ali Rabiei, who had served under the Rouhani administration as labor minister, said in a tweet that the current problems are worse than those of the Iran-Iraq war era in the 1980s and underlined the need for national unity in order to overcome the issues.

“We must come to an understanding on key issues,” he said, adding, “The Saturday night’s meeting with the president which was attended by more than 50 individuals from different political factions is a positive step to this end.”

Rabiei, a pro-reform figure, further said the active presence of all political factions in such meetings is an essential need of the Iranian society.

Asadollah Badamchian, secretary-general of the Islamic Coalition Party, which is a principlist party, said a deep mutual respect existed between different individuals who spoke at the meeting and they all emphasized the need to unify against the enemy.

Also, Badamchian said, the president was right to assert that today is not the time to hold talks with the U.S., but it is time to firmly stand up to Washington.

Mohammad Atrianfar, a reformist political activist, said a friendly atmosphere prevailed in the meeting which was attended by top figures of the reformist and principlist camps.

The participants unanimously agreed that all political groups should set aside their differences and help the president and his administration to overcome such dangerous circumstances, Atrianfar stated.

Former senior lawmaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar also described the meeting as a “friendly” one which he said could have been held sooner “but still hosting political figures from different factions of the country by the distinguished president was noteworthy.”

The meeting should be welcomed, however, more efforts are needed to broaden such meetings to include members of political groups instead of just the top figures, said Bahonar, a principlist politician who served as parliamentarian for 28 years.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Mohammad Reza Aref, a top reformist lawmaker, was absent at President Rouhani’s iftar dinner. Aref’s absence led to media speculation that he was sore at the president.

“I’m not sore,” Aref said when asked about his absence, explaining that he had already invited guests over for iftar and could not change his plans.

Aref also said he had apologized to the president for his absence.

The meeting and the calls for unity come as tensions between Tehran and Washington have heightened in recent months, after the U.S. designated Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization and imposed new sanctions on Tehran.

Last week, the U.S. said it was dispatching an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in response to purported intelligence that Iran is preparing to retaliate for the sanctions with attacks on American interests in the region.

MH/PA

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