A government spokesman on Monday charged the military of deceiving political leaders about what really happened to the plane, according to a report from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei indicated the military had at first misled rulers over what actually happened to the airliner.
”All relevant authorities had assured us that there had been no missile involved in the downing of the Ukrainian plane,” Rabiei said in the report.
Rabiei insisted Iran’s civilian officials learned only on Friday that the Revolutionary Guard had shot down the plane. The Guard answers directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The point is that we did not lie,” Rabiei said. He went on to blame the US for “spreading the shadow of war over Iran.”
Meanwhile a recording of an IRGC commander speaking to other officers, published by the Iranian opposition site Pyk Net, appeared to show that the unit’s leaders are angry at the government for so quickly putting responsibility for the incident on the Guards.
“The statement by the government admitting the cause of air crash was disgraceful,” the officer said according to the Telegraph, citing the recording. “The statement should not have blamed the entire Revolutionary Guard and could have just said it was the fault of one individual.”
This commander suggested the government could have waited “two or three months” before revealing the cause of crash so that the Guards could continue to enjoy public support over the missile attack on two US bases in Iraq.
“The November protests were caused by the Rouhani government but the Revolutionary Guard sacrificed itself and put them down, but this time the government is so passive in the face of the attacks on the Revolutionary Guard,” the commander said, referring to demonstrations sparked by fuel price hikes late last year. Amnesty International estimated that some 300 people were killed by Iranian security forces as they suppressed nationwide protests. The Reuters news agency estimated 1,500 were killed.
Rouhani has been at odds with the Guards for years, the newspaper report said. Whereas he supports diplomacy with the West, the Guards want isolation.
Header: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrives for a meeting at the presidency office in Tehran, Iran (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)