Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, has been trying to implicate the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a recording in which he was allegedly threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz. In this recording, Rouhani said it is unacceptable to ban the exporting of the Iranian oil while the countries of the region continue to export their oil. Rouhani did not say explicitly that his country will block the Strait of Hormuz because he knows very well that it is unable to do so, and it is shameful to issue empty statements and threats that are difficult to implement or translate on the ground.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and his team are among the fiercest rivals of the hardline movement and the Revolutionary Guard over power in the country. This is the real reason behind the divisions and disagreements among them, not as some believe that the disagreement is over foreign policy. The core of this clash is the dispute over power and hegemony in the country.

Since becoming a president, the Revolutionary Guard have sought to establish secret think tanks to thwart any possible success of Rouhani’s government that could eventually strengthen his popular base and thus pose a threat to the Revolutionary Guard and the hardline movement which dominates the country in all areas and sectors. Qasem Soleimani’s recent letter to President Rouhani “I kiss your hands” comes in this context, in which he wanted to implicate him in a threat that everyone knows he can never implement.

The Revolutionary Guard and its media continue to emphasize that this threat came from Rouhani himself, and its assertion on this to the Iranian people in many ways, the most prominent of which were the cartoons. These cartoons all came to express Rouhani’s threat to block the Strait of Hormuz. The newspapers and news agencies of the Revolutionary Guard, headed by Tasnim, Fars, Joan, and others, have published many caricatures that point out to Iran’s threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, and stressed that the world’s oil corridor is in Iran’s hands and that the Strait of Hormuz is either for everyone or no one will pass through it.

The Revolutionary Guard knows Very well that it is incapable to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, and that if it could do so through terrorist plans, by sinking ships or tankers or pushing them to collide with rocks to make an obstacle for shipping and causing an environmental crisis in retaliation for Gulf states, this could be for a very short time and then the corridor would be opened once again, but this will cost Iran a heavy price should the Revolutionary Guard do that. This may also provide sufficient argument for the United States to carry out military action against Iran and hit the sites and bases of Iranian military at home, especially these suspected of activities aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

Everyone knows that these Iranian threats are for domestic consumption and an attempt to frighten the international community. This is not the first time that Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, knowing very well that it will not be able to do so and that the international community will unite against it.

Therefore, leaders of the Revolutionary Guard and taking into consideration their hostility towards President Rouhani, they seek to implicate him in a threat that is impossible to be implemented, which would embarrass him before the local public, especially as the Revolutionary Guard is currently feared the deterioration of the internal situation to an unprecedented extent which would erupt protests against the regime and the corruption of the Revolutionary Guard. And some politicians, including Rouhani, might exploit this to achieve his goals. This what is making the Revolutionary Guard intensifying its plan to weaken Rouhani and thwart his policies and making him involved in crises and problems that further widening the gap between him and the Iranian people.

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

July 10,  2018