Yesterday’s report from a hardline Iranian newspaper quoting Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as saying he was rebuked over “missteps” in the peace overtures to the US is being publicly denied by Zarif, who says he was misquoted repeatedly in the article.
The misquoting also sparked an unscheduled trip to the hospital for the foreign minister, who reported major back pain and sought treatment. The ruling from doctors was that he is suffering from back spasms brought about by extreme stress, with the implication that the misquoting problem actually caused the symptoms.
Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani have faced a major backlash against their diplomatic efforts among Iran’s more conservative political factions, who believe the US is not trustworthy and that the efforts are going too fast, risking embarrassment for Iran if and when they fail.
That’s the inevitable consequence of such long-standing hostilities, and there are similar cries of “plot” from US hawks who don’t want to pursue rapprochement seriously. In the mean time, the pressure is on for Zarif and Rouhani to show some progress, and the stress of keeping the process going seems to be weighing heavy indeed.