Election Rhetoric Heats Up in Iran

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Election rhetoric in Iran has increased since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial statements earlier in the week, in which he threatened to reveal sensitive information about his political enemies and taunted them that they are “nobody” to confront him.

Immediately after the statements, several figures in Iran responded. Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of the armed forces, said that what the president did “was unacceptable, and it is disturbing public order.” He added that “we hope the president puts an end to this type of discourse.” Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also responded to the president’s statements. He wrote to the president, “There could be two reasons why you still haven’t revealed anything. Either you’re bluffing … or you’re worried they’ll reveal something about you. Could there be any other reason?”

Ahmadidnejad was not deterred, however. Yesterday while in Esfahan with longtime aid and potential presidential candidate Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the president said, “You guys can draw plans, and the work of this nation is to thwart those plans.” He added, “I’m certain with the participation of 50 million in the elections, the next president, with 30 to 40 million votes, can show the strength of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the world and turn the issues facing Iran into favorable conditions.” On previous occasions Ahmadinejad has also predicted a voter turnout of 50 million people. Iran’s population is approximately 75 million.

Although Mashaei has not yet announced his candidacy, there has been opposition to his potential candidacy from conservative factions inside Iran.

This week, Chairman of the Guardian Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, when asked how the Guardian Council will confront the “sedition and deviants” in the elections, said, “We will confront these individuals lawfully.” Those who continued to support presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in the contested 2009 elections were labeled seditionists. Mashei and those close to him in Ahamdinejad’s administration have been labeled “deviants” for their various political stances. The Guardian Council is a 12-member body that approves candidates to run for election, among other duties.

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Habibollah Asgarolladi, prominent political figure from the traditional right, called the “sedition and deviants” the “two blades of a scissor” today. He said that the “the goal of the enemy and sedition is to create war.” He reminded those participating in the elections to “remove those who have entered the sedition and deviant” groups. In response to “Reformists who participated in the sedition or were silent about it, and requests to have them apologize,” Asgaroladi took a soft line. He said, “Some don’t have a problem and they adopted a good position and we don’t need anything from them.”

Asgarolladi  said that “we don’t think of Ahmadinjead as a deviant, but we believe that some of those around him have deviated.” He also called Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi his “brothers” and said they were simply “charmed by the sedition,” adding “the roots of the sedition are America, the Zionist regime and England.”