Iran commander suggests foreign min stay out of military affairs-report

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks with Kuwait's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al Khalid al Sabah during a working luncheon in Kuwait City December 1, 2013. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee (Reuters)
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  • Mohammad Javad Zarif
    Iranian politician

By Isabel Coles and Marcus George DUBAI (Reuters) - The commander of Iran's elite revolutionary guards force, Mohammad Jafari, has suggested the nation's foreign minister stay out of military affairs in a growing debate over comments by the minister that indicated Iran was weak. Last week Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by local media as saying the West had little fear of Iran's military defenses and could destroy them if it wished, although Zarif has said his statement was skewed and taken out of context. "We consider him an experienced diplomat, but he has no experience in the military field," Fars news agency reported Jafari as saying on Tuesday, without naming Zarif. The commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Jafari was answering a question about whether U.S. forces could destroy Iran's military capability with a few bombs. "It's not like that at all. He has no military experience or expertise," Jafari said during a visit to Tehran's Imam Sadiq University. Jafari also appeared to dismiss recent calls for the IRGC 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. In September, both president Hassan Rouhani and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said there was no need for the force to be active in politics. (Reporting by Isabel Coles and Marcus George; Editing by Alister Doyle)

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