Ayatollahs Mesbah Yazdi and Rafsanjani square off?

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Over the weekend, Hojjat al-Islam Jalali, the head of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s office and a senior member of the Endurance Front for the Islamic Revolution, delivered a speech in Mashhad in which he vehemently attacked  former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. While there has long been a rivalry between the two ayatollahs, this is perhaps the most overt and stinging attack on the incumbent head of the Expediency Discernment Council.

Jalali takes particular exception to Hashemi Rafsanjani’s repeated recommendations for a “national unity government” which in the advent of the dispute 2009 election and the ongoing house arrest of opposition leaders Mehrdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, calls for a power sharing agreement with Reformist leaders and Hashemi Rafsanjani’s own allies, the Karogozaran-e sazandegi, or the Executives for Reconstruction.

Some of Jalali’s more noteworthy comments were as follows:

“Hashemi Rafsanjani, in order to present a positive image of himself, calls that the condition of the people ruinous and [says that] the country has been ruined. ‘I [i.e., Hashemi-Rafsanjani] was in charge of the presidency for eight years, I saved the country from crises, and now there is no solution until I can help.’”

“Three years previously Hashemi Rafsanjani said to Mehdi, his son, not to return to the country and said that his son is outside the country to study and submit his thesis, but after a time he recently told his son to return, [stating] ‘You must come back to the country,’ and his son told him, ‘The condition [of the country] is awful and if I return to the country they will arrest me, see that they also got my sister,’ but Hashemi insisted he return”.

“When Mehdi Hashemi was arrested for just entering the country, at this time Hashemi Rafsanjani also said, ‘My son also is no different from the people’s children and if he has committed oppression he must be tried.’ Hashemi Rafsanjani with this action wants to provide a positive view and image of himself.”

“Hashemi [Rafsanjani] inflames the domestic atmosphere and constantly wants foreign countries to increase their pressure on the domestic [scene]. … After blackening the state of the country, he enters his people into the [political] scene.”

“Thirty-three years after the revolution, no more than two strategies exist. All the politicians of the country are [engaged] in the strategy of purification (khales sazi) or the strategy of overthrow and it can be easily identified in which strategy they are engaged. … It is possible that an individual is involved in a strategy of overthrow [against the regime] and not be aware of this. It is possible he is a good individual and Muslim and also performs his prayers throughout the night till morning, but knowingly or unknowingly is involved in a strategy of overthrow.”

“The [idea of a] national unity government in the strategy of overthrow, chants the slogan of moderation and refraining from extremism and instills [the idea] that all the country’s issues are under the influence of radicalism and if America and Israel are negotiated with, the problems will be solved. The most important objective of the national unity government is the creation of disunity.”

“If someone thinks that the differences between Hashemi Rafsanjani and [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad are personal this is nothing more than naïveté. The disagreement is with the slogans of 2005, meaning the slogans voiced by the Supreme Leader with the election of Ahmadinejad, stating that the train of the revolution has returned onto its original track. The beliefs and values and courage and simple-living and the combatting of arrogance [i.e., the US and Western powers] and this is worrisome [for those engaged] in a strategy of overthrow.”

Ayatollah Hassan Mamduhi, a member of the conservative leaning Society of Combatant Clerics has told Fars News that the generally more Reformist-oriented clerical association, of which prominent individuals such as former President Mohammad Khatami and Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeiniha are members, the Association of Combatant Clerics, “do not have a right to engage in activism for the [June 2012 Presidential] election.”

Mamduhi added, “Logically, that spectrum of reformists because of their undesirable action in the events of the 2009 election cannot participate in the future election, let alone set conditions for the regime. … Of course, those Reformists who did not have an effective role in the sedition and set themselves apart from the seditionists of 2009 [i.e., the supporters of the Green opposition movement] can be present in the election.”

Serat News has published pictures of the grandson of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in the company of dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sanei, on the holy day of Ashura, when Shiites mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Hossein. The young cleric, Ali Khomeini, is the son of Ayatollah Khomeini’s younger son Ahmad, who Reformist outlets have alleged was killed by the Intelligence services on the order of Ayatollah Khamenei and a council of clerics which included Ayatollahs Mesbah Yazdi, Khazali, Khoshvaght, and the incumbent General Prosecutor, Hojjat al-Islam Mohseni Ezhei. In any case, Serat was not impressed with Khomeini’s appearance alongside the ostracised Grand Ayatollah, claiming he had in the past been a staunch follower of the Supreme Leader Khamenei and state ideology.

Grand Ayatollah Sanei has long been an outspoken critic of the government and famously referred to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “bastard” in the course of the 2009 presidential election unrest.