Iran's  new President Hassan Rohani
Iran's new President Hassan Rohani AFP file

With the full endorsement of Iran's chief mullah, Ali Khamenei, newly installed Iranian President Hassan Rohani, presumably agrees with the theological and political positions of the Iranian Islamist leadership.

Nevertheless, senior Iranian leaders have made it abundantly clear that even if he were contemplating any changes to the policies of the Islamic Republic, he does not have the authority to do so. In a recent speech, top Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami, a close confidante of Iranian Supreme Ruler Ali Khamenei, issued a warning to the future president Hassan Rouhani: If he wished to remain in power, he must confirm and carry out the “Supreme Leader's” anti-Israel policies.

A report issued by MEMRI, the Middle East Research Institute, quoted Khatami, speaking on behalf of Khamenei, as saying “if the Zionist regime wants to attack Iran [even] in the most minimal fashion, we will destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa. We fear no one.

“As the leader [Khamenei] instructed, we are assisting any Palestinian group that wants to fight the Zionist regime,” he said, adding that the Iranian leadership was very pleased at how Iran played a role during Operation Pillar of Defense, when Hamas hammered Israel with rockets and missiles. Thanks to Iranian-supplied Fajr-5 missiles, “Tel Aviv was turned into a ghost town” during the war.

Israeli officials said that they did not know what Khatami was talking about, as Tel Aviv had not been evacuated during the war, and that in fact there had been only a small number of missile alarms sounded in the city. In fact no missiles actually hit the city at all.

“Anyone taking a position opposing that of the leader of the Islamic society [i.e. Khamenei] must expect consequences and the results from the nation,” MEMRI report quoted Khatami as saying. “The rule of the jurisprudent is the standard of the nation in the regime of the Islamic Republic, and none – not even the president – is entitled to take a position against it...

“The nation's motto is always: 'We are all your soldiers, Khamenei, we are attentive to your instructions, Khamenei,'” added Khatami.