Days after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, a picture of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei reading a book Trump hates was published on Khamenei's official Instagram account. Khamenei reportedly checked out the translated version of Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff's bestselling tell-all about chaos and dysfunction in the Trump White House, at the Tehran International Book Fair on Friday.
"Today, the Revolutionary Leader is browsing a book about #Trump, the President of the United States in the # Tehran Exhibitions," the caption under the picture reads in Farsi.
Given the circumstances, it's probably safe to call this a troll by the Iranian leader. Khamenei has publicly attacked Trump for pulling out of the deal, and the primary theme of Fire and Fury is the incompetence of Trump and most of his administration. The book debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list upon its release, and has sold over a million copies to date.
Although Wolff only briefly touches on Iran in Fire and Fury, he does write at one point that "if Trump had one fixed point of reference in the Middle East, it was — mostly courtesy of [former National Security Adviser] Michael Flynn's tutoring — that Iran was the bad guy. Hence, everybody opposed to Iran was a pretty good guy."
Fire and Fury contains anecdotes and stories, often damning ones, about almost everyone in Trump's orbit. Upon its release, Trump called it a "Fake Book of [sic] a mentally deranged author, who knowingly writes false information." The book alleges, among other things, that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump sleep in separate bedrooms in the White House; that a spokesperson for Trump's legal team quit because he believed the administration had obstructed justice; that top level officials in Trump's cabinet called the president a "moron," a "dope" and "dumb as sh*t" behind his back; and that Melania didn't want Trump to win the election, and burst into tears when he did.
Although Trump and the White House haven't addressed all of the claims made in the book, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that Fire and Fury is "filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House." Melania's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said that "Mrs. Trump supported her husband's decision to run for president and in fact, encouraged him to do so."
"She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did," Grisham said. She added that Fire and Fury will soon be seen "in the bargain fiction section" of bookstores.
When Trump announced earlier in the week that he would be withdrawing the U.S. from the landmark Iran nuclear deal, Khamenei called the decision "cheap and impudent," "silly" and "worthless," according to Iran's Mehr news agency. He said American leaders are still bitter at having lost "dominance" over Iran in 1979, when the U.S.-supported leader of the country was toppled in a revolution.
This does not necessarily mean, however, that the Iran deal is dead. The agreement, which places limits on Iran's nuclear development in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against the country, was struck in 2015 between Iran and five other countries: The U.S., Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China. Although the U.S. is no longer part of the deal, it's possible that the agreement will continue in America's absence.
Khamenei hinted at this possibility Wednesday when he said that "without receiving a strong guarantee from [Germany, France and the U.K.], we won't stick to the nuclear agreement." The same day, the leaders of those three countries released a joint statement affirming their commitment to the Iran deal.
"It is with regret and concern that we, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron said. "Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security."