Reactions to Wendy Sherman’s Anti-Iranian Statement
There has been reactions to Wendy Sherman’s statement: “We know that deception is part of the DNA in Iran," inside Iran by officials and different groups, especially by the hardliners who sought an opportunity to denounce US-Iran engagement illustrated during president Rouhani’s visit to New York. During his trip to New York, President Rouhani talked to president Obama on the phone and FM Zarif and FM Kerry met. In the past week, anti-US posters questioning US’s honesty were installed in Tehran in reaction to Wendy Sherman’s statement and as an objection to the government’s moderate/flexible posture towards the US. The posters hung across the city raised the question that which organization has been behind such an advertisement in the midst of Iran and the P5+1 talks. The Iranian FM spokeswoman, Marziyeh Afkham in response to Wendy Sherman’s statement mentioned, “Ms Sherman has misunderstood the situation. She also mentioned that contrary to Wendy Sherman’s statement in the Iranians’ DNA is resistance towards force and bullying”.
After Wendy Sherman’s statement on October 17 where she accused Iranians of deception, the US FM spokeswoman rejected this statement and mentioned that “President Rouhani’s softer tone has been appreciated and the Iranian delegation’s tone at the P5+1 meeting was positive and we hope that this would continue”. After such statement however, Wendy Sherman had noted that the anti-Iranian sanctions “should not disappear anytime soon.” Her comments come a few days after Iran and the 5+1 held a two-day meeting in Geneva on October 15-16.
The posters installed in Tehran which question US’s honesty has become controversial among different members of the city council who represent the more pro government (Rouhani’s fraction) and the hardline fractions. There were those who considered such anti-US advocacy as contrary to the Rouhani government’s engagement diplomacy which was being pursued during the Geneva talks and on the other hand those who were reacting to the government’s engagement policy, specifically after Wendy Sherman’s remark. Mohsen Sorkhou, member of the Tehran City Council warned that the Municipality should be cautious about what is being put on banners in the city and ensure that it wouldn’t harm the country’s national interest by which he was indirectly criticizing the installment of such posters. He pointed we should allow the Iranian delegations to handle the nuclear issue at the Geneva talks away from media hype. He further insisted that though Iran has suffered from the US’s hostility during the Iran-Iraq war, the Supreme Leader has an eye on all Iran-US affairs and thus this matter should be handled by foreign policy experts. Another member of the City Council, Shakeri however argues the contrary and states that while the late Imam called the US the great Satan and the fact that the Supreme Leader has mentioned that the US is not trustworthy, encourage the nation to emphasize its rage against the US.
Shakeri added that the president seeks to act moderately yet the US has responded with remarks such as “all options remain on the table (referring to a military option)”. He mentioned that another US diplomat has mentioned that Iranians have deceptive genes. He indicates that while he does not know which organization has sponsored the posters, Iran’s stance towards the US should be clarified; and that foreign policy experts should announce their views regarding our stance towards the US. He further pointed that the people still endorses anti-US chants and the people shout “down with the US” at the Friday Prayers. There have been other pros and counter views reiterated by members of the city council regarding the anti-US posters.
The latest set of these controversial posters were put up by the Owj Cultural Organization, which said it had the required permissions. The posters were put up to commemorate the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4.
The putting up of such posters according to analysts is considered a reaction to the US by the more conservative fractions who consider President Rouhani’s moderate policies as showing flexibility and deviating from what had been once a redline which should not be compromised. Others more moderate groups and the reformists backing the new government however have welcomed the government’s moderate trend in which it has shown flexibility to engage with the west on the nuclear issue.
The Tehran municipality has ultimately removed anti-American posters from the streets which questioned US honesty in nuclear talks with Iran on October 27. A municipal spokesman said the posters were put up across Tehran without any official authorization. "In an arbitrary act and without the knowledge and confirmation of the municipality, one of the advertising agencies had put up these posters," spokesman Hadi Ayyazi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. Mohammad-Hassani, head of the Owj adverting agency, which produced the posters, said they did not reflect hostility towards US-Iranian nuclear talks. "The American Honesty posters do not have any objection against Iran-America negotiations," he mentioned. Thus the government efforts to remove the posters, is seen as a way to contain the conservative hardliners who are not fond of the moderate stand adopted by President Hassan Rouhani’s government in his talks with the West regarding the nuclear program.