In a speech that no doubt will be seen as an attack on the government of President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Supreme Leader dismissed the idea of “national unity” as “meaningless.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also rejected the notion that the 2015 nuclear agreement had prevented war, calling such assertions “lies.” Khamenei also lambasted “those inside Iran who continue to highlight the country’s shortcomings” and claimed such forces “are the same ones who told the enemy [the US and allies] to sanction [Iran].” In attacking the United States, Khamenei said that “Washington’s threats of military action [against] Iran is only meant to distract the Iranians from the real fight, which is about economic resistance” against the West. The Supreme Leader also pressed the Rouhani government to “show to the people what they have achieved over this past year in making the economy self-sufficient.”

Comment: Khamenei’s disapproval of the economic performance of the Rouhani government took up most of his speech, but it was his dismissal of the idea of “national unity” that was most notable. It was an unswerving denunciation of Mohammad Khatami, the former reformist Iranian president who fell out with Khamenei following the 2009 disputed presidential elections. Khatami, who then backed the presently imprisoned reformist presidential candidates (Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi), last week on his website asked for “national unity” to deal with the threat posed to Iran by the U.S. President Donald Trump. Khamenei’s rejection of the idea was uncharacteristically clear. “We have no desire to have reconciliation” with those who opposed the regime in 2009," he said.