Journalist Who Identified Rafsanjani in ‘Chain Murders’ Sees Opportunity in Candidacy

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Former Iranian president and head of Ira

Famous dissident and journalist Akbar Ganji, who wrote a series of stories about the murder and disappearance of Iranian intellectuals and dissidents from 1988 to 1998 in which he revealed the involvement of top government officials and clerics including Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has written a new op-ed about the opportunity he sees in Rafsanjani’s candidacy for the presidency.

Ganji wrote in the Netherlands-based Radio Zamaneh that “Rafsanjani of the 1990s is not the Rafsanjani of the 1980s. Rafsanjani of the 2000s is not the Rafsanjani of the 1990s. He’s been gradually marginalized by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and he’s been severely wounded.” Ganji continued, “Rafsanjani sees that … his efforts are going to waste and he’s become a candidate so that at the end of his life he can steer the system in a direction that he sees fit.”

Ganji wrote, “The 2013 elections of Rafsanjani is the 2009 election of Mousavi.” Mir Hussein Mousavi was the Reformist candidate in the contested 2009 elections and is currently under house arrest. His protest of the 2009 outcome turned into mass protests which became known as the Green Movement. Interestingly, Ganji titled his article “From ‘His Red-Robed Highness’ to ‘His Green-Robed Highness.’” The term “His Red-Robed Highness” is the name Ganji used for Rafsanjani in the Chain Murder stories.

Ganji sees Iran heading toward a dangerous path and asks rhetorically, “What is the goal? Is it to pass from a despotic regime to a democratic regime that is bound by freedom and human rights? Or is the path like Syria and disintegration?”

The article states, “Rafsanjani is nothing more than an excuse. If he can be turned into ‘His Green-Robed Highness’ it is a step forward. Although it is possible he may pay the price and his fate will turn out like that of Ayatollah Montazeri, Mousavi and Karroubi.” Along with Mousavi, Karroubi is also under house arrest for protesting the 2009 elections. Ayatollah Montazeri is the famous dissident cleric who was once deputy supreme leader, but had a falling out with then-supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini over mass executions in the 1980s. Although he remained under house arrest in the final years of his life until his death in December 2009, he remained active and continued to issue harshly worded letters against Khamenei.

Reformist Figure Sees Rafsanjani’s Candidacy Linked to Mashaei

Reformist political figure Abbas Abdi also expressed his opinions earlier this week on Rafsanjani’s candidacy to the Fararu website. Abdi said, “My take is that Rafsanjani didn’t register to stay in the elections, although it’s possible he might be forced to stay in the elections, and this is an important point. My guess is that Rafsanjani registered his name for the election for two purposes, and if these two purposes are realized, he’ll step aside.”

Abdi continued, “The administration’s candidate [Mashaei] has registered, and if he is approved to run, there is no doubt that Rafsanjani will stay to the end, because he has correctly assessed that no other candidate can beat the administration’s candidate, and that is why their presence at the same time at the Minister of Interior building to register was kind of an epic battle like Rostam and Esfandiar.”

“However, if the administration’s candidate is disqualified from the elections, this is one circumstance that is necessary for him to step aside,” Abdi said. The other condition for Rafsanjani, in Abdi’s opinion, is “if there is a very clear political agreement.” He continued, “An agreement which would have been better before the elections is who should be chosen. Meaning who should everyone support, and that individual would sit with Rafsanjani and they would reach an agreement on how their demands could be realized.”

photo credit ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images