Jailed Former Deputy Minister Claims Khamenei’s Support for Assad has Provoked Shia-Sunni Conflict

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Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy minister of the interior and one of Iran’s leading Reformist figures, currently imprisoned in Evin jail, has written a highly critical letter addressed to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stating, “the result of your support for [Bashar] Assad is a war between Shia and Sunni.”

Tajzadeh stated that Khamenei’s “absolute defense” of the Syrian president was his biggest mistake of the last two years, adding that continuing such a policy will result in the expansion of the war to Lebanon and Iraq.

Tajzadeh also stressed that the confrontation in Syria is not merely one of the United States and West against Russia and China, but has been transformed into an “arena of struggles” between Salafi forces and non-Salafis, Shia Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese.

Tajzadeh, who has written a number of critical letters to Iran’s leader since his arrest following Iran’s 2009 presidential election, added that following the Arab Spring it is clear that the people of the region have rejected the Iranian model for emulation. He further argued that the Arab world’s rejection of the Iranian model is due to the “absolute power of a person over 70 percent of the powers” of the state, claiming that “such a regime is similar to authoritarian regimes like that of the Pahlavis, Mubarak, Qaddafi and Assad.”

In other news

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, reacting to the suggestion of direct negotiations with the United States, has told Mehr news agency, “If the Americans prove they have a truthful and honest intent, we will study [their suggestion] with a positive view.”

Salehi added, “we have two kinds of negotiation with America. One kind of negotiation is comprehensive and regards political relations with this country. Undertaking or not undertaking such negotiations is clarified by the Supreme Leader and is in his control, and of course thus far we have not had such negotiations. If the conditions and time for such negotiations are readied, the Supreme will make the decision.”

Salehi then referred to the second kind of negotiation stating, “We have negotiated with the Americans regarding the subject of Afghanistan in Bern. We also had negotiations in Baghdad with the Americans regarding the domestic crisis in Iraq, so you see we can have a negotiation over an issue of concern.”

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts and prayer leader of Tehran, has claimed that if Iran negotiates with the United States, “prices will increase tenfold.” Khatami also emphasized that the nuclear file is solely in the hands of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Hojjat al-Islam Morteza Agha-Tehrani, the head of the Majles’ Cultural Commission and the chairman of the Endurance Front of the Islamic Revolution, has said that the disagreements and conflicts that currently blight the relations of the Islamic Republic elite are a consequence of their not taking “seriously” the statements of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Agha-Tehrani added, “We see what the Master [i.e., Khamenei] says and act upon it, which is the very least which can be done.”

The chairman of the Endurance Front’s comments come after the public exchange of insults and threats that has taken place between Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This very public argument on the Majles floor, no less, also took place after Khamenei had stated explicitly that those politicians who air their differences and disagreements in public to manipulate public sentiment prior to the election have “betrayed” the country.

Habibollah Asgarowladi, one of the most important personalities on the traditional right, has said that he made his previous statements regarding Green Movement leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Karroubi, in order to “open the lock” on the upcoming presidential election.  Asgarowladi’s previous statements that he did not believe Mousavi and Karroubi the “leaders of the sedition,” i.e., the post-election unrest and protests which followed the 2009 presidential election, has caused both consternation and expressions of agreement amongst establishment Conservatives.

Asgarowladi  stated, “I saw the 2013 election as locked. In these circumstances what can Mousavi and Karroubi do? What can the Reformists do? Those who are around them, what can they do? I believe eventually a path [for solving the impasse] will be found … On the whole, we must open society and I will make an effort to open up space.”

Regarding Mousavi and Karroubi, Asgarowladi stressed that “if they have done something, the Judiciary must investigate.”

Last year in December, the head of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces, Brigadier Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, admitted that Mousavi and Karroubi’s house arrest was on the order of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Fararu posts photographs from Commander Hassan Shateri’s funeral; both Revolutionary Guards chief, Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, and Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani are in attendance.

Soleimani cries for Shateri

In this photo the hardline figure of Hojjat al-Islam Ali Reza Panahian speaks at the funeral. Behind and to his right (in the hat) is Kazem Darabi, the convicted assassin of Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi, the former secretary-general of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, who was shot dead in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin in 1992.

Panahian Mykonos assassin

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was also in attendance.

Salehi at Shateri funeral