Iran’s outgoing president says the country’s authoritarian government doesn’t always tell the truth

Rouhani
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani replies to a question during a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
  • Iran’s outgoing president said the government was not always truthful during his eight-year tenure.
  • “What we told people was not contrary to reality, but we did not tell part of the truth to people,” Rouhani said.
  • Iran’s authoritarian government is not known for its transparency and has little tolerance for dissent.
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is leaving office this week, on Sunday said the country’s authoritarian government was not always truthful during his eight years in office.

“What we told people was not contrary to reality, but we did not tell part of the truth to people,” Rouhani said during what marked his last Cabinet meeting as president, per the Associated Press. “Because I did not find it useful and I was afraid it would harm national unity.”

It’s not entirely clear if Rouhani was referring to any specific issue. But the Iranian government is largely dominated by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and clerics who tightly control the country’s political system – generally lacking in transparency and showing little tolerance for dissent.

Moreover, Iran last year unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian commercial airline, and killed 176 people in the process, but initially denied any involvement. The Iranian government ultimately acknowledged that it had downed the plane while on high alert amid heightened tensions after US drone strike killed the top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.

Iran responded to Soleimani’s killing with a missile attack aimed at US and coalition forces in Iraq, which injured dozens. The Iranian government said “human error” was to blame for the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane, induced by fears of the US military retaliating. Eighty-two of those killed in the crash were Iranian, and the government’s handling of the matter prompted mass protests.

Rouhani is set to be replaced by Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner and protege of Khamenei. Raisi, who until recently was Iran’s judiciary chief and won the presidency in what’s widely viewed as a rigged election, will take the reins amid ongoing tensions with the US and with the future of the 2015 nuclear deal up in the air. After six rounds of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran in Vienna failed to revive the 2015 pact, the Biden administration has warned Raisi that time is running out to save the agreement.