Iran’s foreign minister apologizes for recorded comments that were leaked to the public last week, creating a firestorm in Iran less than two months before presidential elections.
The recordings of Mohammad Javad Zarif included frank comments on powerful late Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in 2020. The attack at the time brought the US and Iran to the brink of war. Soleimani’s funeral processions in Iran drew millions of people to the streets.
In the recordings, Zarif criticizes Soleimani’s separate relations with Russia and his refusal to stop using the national carrier Iran Air for Syrian operations despite Zarif’s objections. Iran Air has been sanctioned by the US.
Zarif says in an Instagram post he hopes Soleimani’s family will forgive him. “I hope that the great people of Iran and all the lovers of General [Soleimani] and especially the great family of Soleimani, will forgive me,” he says.
Zarif’s leaked comments were highly controversial in Iran, where officials mind their words amid a cutthroat political environment that includes the powerful Revolutionary Guard, ultimately overseen by the country’s supreme leader.