The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces has said that his country has been influenced by the West, in an apparent criticism of the government of Hassan Rouhani, the country's recently elected moderate president.
Major General Mohammad Jafari's comments are some of the sharpest to be made by a senior official in public since Rouhani took office in August, pledging to improve Iran's relations with regional countries and the West.
"The military, systems and procedures governing the administrative system of the country are the same as before, [but it] has been slightly modified and unfortunately infected by Western doctrine, and a fundamental change must occur," Iran’s Fars news agency quoted Jafari as saying on Tuesday.
"The main threat to the revolution is in the political arena and the Guards cannot remain silent in the face of that," he said.
The government's diplomatic initiative led to an agreement with six world powers last month under which Iran is to curb its disputed nuclear programme in return for limited relief from sanctions that have squeezed its economy.
The interim accord has been widely welcomed by Iranians but hardliners are irked by the foreign policy shift and apprehensive that they are losing influence over Iran's most powerful man, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Rouhani's policies have so far mostly gained the endorsement of Khamenei, who has the final say in Iran's foreign and security policies, and who has long criticised Western countries' policies in the Middle East and their motives regarding Iran's nuclear programme.