Ahmadinejad bites back

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The Reformist daily, Etemaad carries the highlights from yesterday’s controversial press conference with President Ahmadinejad:

“If our presence is very difficult for you, I write one line, and good bye”.

With these comments the president effectively threatened his resignation.

“The position of the Minister of Islamic Guidance regarding Sharq (newspaper) was wrong; it shouldn’t have been closed.”

The Reformist daily Sharq was shut down after featuring a caricature deemed insulting to veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. Ahmadinejad’s own Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Hosseini, was amongst the most vociferous demanding the newspaper’s closure.

“22 people are the head of a ring [responsible for] the recent disturbances in the currency market”.

This comment should be seen in the context of the government’s repeated claims that a small, but powerful cabal are manipulating the currency market for financial gain.

The head of the Inspectorate Organization for the Country has said that he will investigate the matter, but said he was “saddened” by the President’s comments, and added, that “if this is so, the Intelligence apparatus will go into action, and confront this team [of 22 people]”.

“One supervisory body asked us to increase the price of currency”.

Ahmadinejad, apparently contradicting the above comment, contended that a “supervisory body”, so possibly either the Guardian Council or Supreme Leader’s office, demanded that the price of hard currency be increased by the government.

“Direct negotiations with America are possible, but the conditions must be obtained”.

Despite much criticism of Ahmadinejad’s comments regarding the prospect of negotiations with the U.S. while he was in New York for the UN General Assembly he has decided to stand by what he has said. His statement that “Iran officially recognizes America and believes we can have relations with one another” was publicly rebutted by Ali Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader’s advisor on international affairs and Ato’allah Boroujerdi, head of the Majles’ National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

Ahmadinejad even added, “Imam [Khomeini] and the Leader [Khamenei] accept my view on relations with America”.

“If sanctions don’t have any effect, then his (Larijani) decisions definitely have an effect”.

Ahmadinejad is directly responding to the criticisms made yesterday by Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, in which the latter stated that only 20% of the country’s economic problems were the result of sanctions. The two have had a tense relationship since Larijani’s resignation from the post of head of the Supreme National Security Council in 2007. With this most recent exchange of blows, it looks like the two men’s relationship has fully disintegrated.

If they are going to make accusations on such a basis (i.e. insulting the Leader), then everyone needs to line up”.

Ahmadinejad’s press advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, was jailed last week in order to carry out a 6 month sentence; one of the charges was “insulting the Leader”.

“If they give us 20% enriched uranium, we don’t have any need for its costly production”.

Iran’s enrichment of uranium up to 19.75% has been the subject of international controversy since 2010. Iranian officials on a number of occasions have expressed their willingness to forgo higher levels of enrichment, but perhaps never quite as forthrightly as the President expressed it during yesterday’s press conference.

“The other institutions and branches of government don’t have any problem? Why are there no criticisms of the Judiciary? The Majles has no role? No problem can be found with the Tehran municipality?”

It is not a coincidence that Ahamdinejad’s main rivals and critics man these institutions: Sadeq Larijani, the Judiciary, Ali Larijani, the Majles, and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the Mayor of Tehran. Farda News, interestingly focuses on a particular statement by Ahmadinejad, “everyone is to blame except the government”. The article continues, “The important point in [Ahmadinejad’s] comments which  can be seen as a “defensive act based on projecting [on to others]”, is that nearly all of the functions a president must possess  were absent and the president spoke like a “political activist” that has party interests”.

As Serat News, close to the hardline newspaper Kayhan, has noted, President Ahmadinejad also explicitly attacked Fars News Agency, which is linked to the Revolutionary Guards. The President called it “a media outlet beholden to the security organs” and asked “why must it enter the political issues of the country?” Serat News chastises the President and calls such language unbefitting of the executive. Ahmadinejad’s comments have also been read as an overt challenge to elements within the Revolutionary Guards.

The foreign based site, Digarban, reports on a wave of criticism from Conservative political figures of Ahmadinejad’s comments made during yesterday’s press conference. One MP, Javad Jahangir Zadeh, accused the President of “settling political scores”.

In response to Iraqi authorities’ search of an Iranian cargo plane bound for Syria, the Iranian ambassador to Iran, Hassan Danai Far has said, “we preserve the right to reciprocate” and that “we hope it isn’t repeated”.

Minister of Defence, Brigadier General, Ahmad Vahidi, landed in Iraq yesterday on an official visit to meet with his Iraqi counterpart, Sadoun Al Dalaimi. Upon arrival at Baghdad International airport, Vahidi remarked that during his trip “increased defensive relations between Iran and Iraq will be investigated”.

Iran’s ambassador in Moscow, Reza Sajjadi, has told the Islamic Republic News Agency, that that “Tehran’s cooperation with Moscow is in contradiction to the interests of the West and Zionist regime”.

Image source: Farda News