Ahmadinejad Replies to Khamenei on Presidential Power

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President Ahmadinejad yesterday wrote a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying “he is sure that [the Supreme Leader] disagrees with the President’s powers being tampered with”. The letter followed those of Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, and Judiciary Chief, Sadeq Larijani, pledging to abide by Khamenei’s order to refrain from publicly airing the differences between the heads of the respective branches of government. Ahmadinejad’s letter has already been depicted as audacious, particularly when compared with the subdued and compliant tone of Ali and Sadeq Larijani’s letters to the Supreme Leader.

In his letter President Ahmadinejad wrote:

“I am sure that your Excellency insists on guarding the Constitution and especially the fundamental rights of the nation and furthermore protection of the eminent place of the presidency chosen by the nation and the country’s highest official authority after the Leader and the executor of the Constitution and that you disagree with any action which tampers with its powers and important responsibilities.”

Other Domestic News

Nasser Kashani, an MP and member of the Majles’ Social Commission, has said that the increase in the rate of divorce in Iran is “worrying”. He also added that in recent years the rate of divorce in villages and small towns has increased at a faster pace than in Iran’s cities.

An interesting televised debate between former American embassy hostage taker turned Reformist politician Ebrahim Asgharzadeh and the hardline editor of Keyhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, was broadcast on state television yesterday. The full debate has been uploaded to the website Bashgah-e khabarnegaran, which is alleged to be close to the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence unit. The debate was interesting insofar as Asgharzadeh talks plainly about negotiations with the United States and the prospect of such negotiations securing the national interest and the need for a new president with a popular mandate for realising this end.

Asgharzadeh also criticized Shariatmadari as being a latecomer amongst President Ahmadinejad’s detractors, arguing that the Reformists have been decrying all along the president’s “disregard for the law”.

Foreign Affairs

The head of the Basij, Mohammadreza Naqdi has announced at a ceremony held outside the former U.S. embassy for the “National Day of Resistance Against World Arrogance” that Iran can establish relations with the United States only on the condition of the dissolution of the Central Intelligence Agency, the closure of U.S. military bases in 50 countries and the removal of its naval fleets from the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean. The final condition was that the U.S. officially announce that it will no longer support the “usurping Zionist regime”. The Basij commander also offered researchers an opportunity to disprove “a more criminal [state] than America exists”. If they manage to succeed in “proving” such, their prize, Naqdi told them, would be “10 kilograms of gold”.

Hossein Sheikholeslam, Majles Speaker Ali Larijani’s advisor on international affairs, and a former ambassador to Syria, in an interview with Bultan News has claimed that Israeli society “feels that it is in a state of disintegration and this has resulted in their going to the side of extremism. Because when you are given such a feeling you start to engage in confrontion. For this same reason Netanyahu proclaims extreme slogans to obtain the votes of extremist Israelis”. Sheikholeslam also claimed that the West’s support for Israel has decreased stating that “before it was Israel that threatened Lebanon to be careful of [its] missiles, but now it is Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah who is saying Israel is not far from our missile range. For the same reason the difference between the extremists and moderateS in Israel has increased.”

Mehr News reports a statement made by the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on Israeli television in which he claimed  “as long as I am the head of the Palestinian Authority no armed third intifada against Israel will occur”. Curiously, “armed” is not included in the headline of the Mehr News’ article, merely “no third intifada”.