Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a meeting this morning with members of Iran’s Basij paramilitary force remarked on a number of important issues relating to his previous calls for unity and cooperation among the various branches of government that have been at odds in recent weeks. Of particular note was the fiery exchange of letters between President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani over the former’s desire to visit Evin prison. In the aftermath of that exchange, Khamenei stepped in and in unprecedented fashion said that those who aired their differences publicly before the presidential election scheduled for June 2013 were perpetrating “treason.” In the aftermath of this speech, the three heads of the respective branches, Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Majles, Sadeq Larijani and Ahmadinejad wrote to the Supreme Leader stating that they would abide by his order.
Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad’s critics in the Majles had petitioned for his being summoned to answer questions in the aftermath of the collapse of the Iranian currency, the rial. The requisite number of signatures were gathered and it seemed that imminently the president would become the first Iranian president to be summoned to answer questions before the Majles for the second time in a single term. As the date of the president’s appearance was to be scheduled in the coming week, Khamenei has stepped in and expressed his opposition to the proposal, again stressing it to be contrary to unity in the face of unparalleled Western pressure against the Islamic Republic.
Khamenei told his audience: “I thank the heads of the three branches of government for their positive response and their emphasis on unity, despite differences of opinion and taste and it is necessary that this good movement and vigilance in expressions of opinion and actions continue.”
Regarding the planned questioning of the president, he said: “This movement up to now is in two respects praiseworthy” and a sign of “the feeling of responsibility by the representatives of the nation in the face of the country’s issues,” adding, “the executive authorities [the Ahmadinejad government] also with confidence and courage announced readiness to explain and respond.”
Moreover, Khamenei said: “The action of the legislature in the performance of [its] obligation and the belief of executive in the correctness and honesty of its actions is a good test for the two branches of government, but I believe the movement up to this point is sufficient and should not continue further … The people too have insight and identify that the continuation of this act, is the same thing that the enemy desires.”
Khamenei also sought to stress the importance of “calm” and maintaining “calm” and the need for an abatement of political infighting: “It is possible that a group under the influence of emotions and with the use of the means of propagation, such as newspapers and Internet sites, make a racket, when all of those responsible in the performance of their duties require calm and the people are also demanding calm and an end to this issue [which] will show that the legislature and executive more than anything else respect unity and calm.”
Mohammad Damadi, the spokesman of the MPs who had drafted the questions for the Majles session with the president, has told Fars News that all the signatories to the summoning and questioning of President Ahmadinejad have retracted their signatures and that added that “it is not expedient” that the questioning go ahead. He also said that the MPs were acting in “obedience” of the Supreme Leader’s statements.
Maverick Principalist MP, Ali Motahhari, who was one of the chief advocates for the Majles’ questioning of the President, has told Khane-ye Mellat, the Majles’ news agency: “We were pursuing the questioning of the president because we thought questioning the president useful, but because the Supreme Leader has ordered [such], and this is an executive order, we are subject to this order.”
Khamenei has come to rely increasingly on so-called “executive orders” in order to enforce his political directives. They are orders which are seen as binding, non-negotiable and to be strictly obeyed. Though he doesn’t publicly call them such, his office makes it clear that they are to to be read thus, by the relevant personalities involved. The last executive order used by Khamenei was for the reinstatement of the Intelligence Minister, Heydar Moslehi, after President Ahmadinejad had effectively forced him to hand in his resignation.
The Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, also in a letter to the Supreme leader stressed that “the representatives of the Majles take pride in obeying the commands of the Guardian of the affairs of Muslims [Khamenei]”.
Ala’oddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Majles’ National Security and Foreign Policy Commission has told the Majles that “the Zionists have accepted defeat in the second Gaza war.” He added: “Tel Aviv’s request from Egypt and America for a cease-fire in Gaza is an admission of defeat from the Zionists, but Israel … with the objective of deceiving public opinion is pretending they haven’t accepted the cease-fire.”