Former President Mohammad Khatami spoke to a group of veterans, discussing not only the likely outcome of his candidacy but also the critical state Iran is facing domestically and internationally.
“The reality is that they will not allow me to enter the political scene,” Khatami said, meaning the security and intelligence forces, who are under the control of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He added: “Assume I run … their unhappiness and concerns will increase and they will make you pay the cost, and it will be a cost with no results. Personally, for me, the cost that will be imposed on the people with my candidacy is an unbearable cost. Especially when they don’t want it and they will not allow it how can I run, and even more so, how can one move forward a nation which has so many difficulties and hardships? Assuming I run, it would be to pay the price to make things better, but not to pay a price for things to get worse.”
The former president said “if I run, I will come with my own framework. …. But if I run and a significant part of the system [government] is against it, they will go after me.” Khatami used the example of 2009 presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, who’s under house arrest as an example of what could happen. He said after 20 years of being away from the political scene “he ran to save the system, but they say he ran to overthrow the system!”
“Today” Khatami said “other than the various political, economic and international problems and crises, trust has withered away. The best individuals and those who have suffered the most for the revolution are in jail. We must invest in social capital. We are witnessing social corruption in all layers of society.” He added “accusations, building cases, and lying has become valued. Constantly they attack us and accuse of us [working with] the CIA, Mossad, MI6 and they don’t even create a space to defend oneself. Give us a trial and if it’s true it’ll be revealed.”
The topic of political prisoners was also discussed. Khatami asked: “Why are the best of our youth in prison for strange and odd reasons? Why are Karroubi and Mousaiv under arrest?” After the 2009 elections many political activists were arrested, many are still in jail. Mir Hussein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi have been under house arrest without being charged with anything for two years for contesting the outcome of the 2009 elections.
Khatami also compared the state of Iran’s nuclear program today to the era of his presidency. He said: “During our era [1997-2005] the use of nuclear technology was recognized. We didn’t provoke the world … we built international trust.” While decisions on Iran’s nuclear program are made through the supreme leader’s office many critics inside Iran have accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of increasing Iran’s international isolation and pressure through his inflammatory rhetoric.