December 11, 2013 - 19:11 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard force has criticized the government of President Hassan Rouhani as being under the influence of Western ideas, a sign of the growing tensions between the competing power centers, Reuters reported.
Major General Mohammad Jafari's comments are some of the sharpest to be made by a senior official in public since the moderate Rouhani took office in August pledging to improve Iran's relations with regional countries and the West.
The government's diplomatic initiative led to an agreement with six world powers last month under which Iran is to curb its disputed nuclear program in return for limited relief from sanctions that have squeezed its economy.
The interim accord has been widely welcomed by Iranians but hardliners are irked by the foreign policy shift and apprehensive that they are losing influence over Iran's most powerful man, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"The military, systems and procedures governing the administrative system of the country are the same as before, (but it) has been slightly modified and unfortunately infected by Western doctrine, and a fundamental change must occur," Fars news agency quoted Jafari as saying on Tuesday, Dec 10.
The comments by Jafari - the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - underline the changing circumstances since hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left office after two terms.
During those eight years, the IRGC was able to strengthen its involvement in economic and political affairs of the country, a role Rouhani is intent on reversing.
Jafari also appeared to dismiss calls by Rouhani and Khamenei for the force to stay out of politics, saying its duty was to protect the Islamic Revolution.
"The main threat to the revolution is in the political arena and the Guards cannot remain silent in the face of that," he said.