- Khamenei Publicly Limits Foreign Minister, Who Pledges "To Implement... Foreign Policy That Was Designed By The Supreme Leader"
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday rejected the possibility that diplomatic initiatives publicly fronted by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would include broader rapprochement between Tehran and the West, telling diplomatis that while Zarif would be allowed to "continue" with nuclear talks, the negotiations had "become yet another invaluable experience" demonstrating the untenability of "relations or negotiations with the United States." Al Monitor reported that Zarif had been showcased before Khamenei gave his remarks, and had 'thanked the supreme leader' and declared that the Iranian negotiating team was "determined to implement in the best way the foreign policy that was designed by the supreme leader." The outlet noted that Khamenei 'has the final say on foreign policy matters, including the nuclear program and nuclear negotiations,' a point that had been cited early by foreign policy analysts skeptical that the June 2013 election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would create the basis for sustained engagement between the West and the Islamic Republic. There had subsequently been significant debate over the latitude that Iran's negotiators had been given to make concessions, both specifically in the context of nuclear talks and more generally. A strange incident in October had seen Zarif reportedly hospitalized in the aftermath of potentially fabricated statements suggesting a broad readiness to warm ties with the West. By December Reuters was ready to declare that "Iran's political realities [were] sinking in" despite despite Iranian negotiators having sealed the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) to secure a softening of sanctions against Tehran, and that "hardliners who call the United States and its allies 'world arrogance' will be poised to pounce." In February senior Iranian officials linked to the Supreme Leader foreclosed the possibility that Iran would shutter nuclear facilities or dismantle nuclear infrastructure, and Khamenei himself declared in July that Iran would reject any agreement that did not allow a radical expansion of that infrastructure. Reuters described the latter as "underlining a gap in positions between Tehran and world powers as they hold talks aimed at clinching a nuclear accord," while Arabic media outlets took the incident as evidence that "[Khamenei] and senior cadre of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps will have the final say, while "[Zarf] and his technocrat nuclear team are only setting the tone on the international arena."
Israeli ride-hailing application GetTaxi has announced a $150 million funding round that will help it start a service in New York for corporate customers and expand its service to new European cities. The company says it will also invest in expanded services in New York City and London. Vostok Nafta, a Swedish-based investment company, was named as one of the latest funders with its $25 million investment. “Although competition is ripe everywhere, we think a conservative scenario is that GetTaxi becomes the leading player in Russia and Israel,” Vostok Nafta said in a statement. GetTaxi, a rival to Uber Technologies, Lyft and Hailo Network in the car-hailing smartphone app business, is currently available in 24 cities, most of them in Israel, but also including London, New York City, and Moscow. The company has not disclosed its worth but Vostok Nafta says GetTaxi will have a potential valuation of more than $2 billion in “a couple of years down the road.” GetTaxi operates under the Gett brand in the US. (via Israel21c)
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