Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei on Argo



Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the chief of the Secretariat of the Non-Aligned Movement and a controversial ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has defended his recent spate of meetings with foreign leaders, claiming that they were “always in the office of the President”.

Mashaei also commented on the Oscar winner for Best Picture, Argo, claiming that “there is no doubt that in these kinds of things politics has a role, but [to reckon] every action is entirely political is also not the case and it is not possible to judge…I have not seen this film and only heard that it is against Iran, but I have not seen it [to know] what its anti-Iranian dimensions are…If it has questioned Iranian smarts it has made a big mistake. If Iranians did not have a great intelligence, the name ‘Iran’ would now no longer exist”.

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IRGC Commander: Downing drones was “serious demand” of Supreme Leader

Brigadier Amir Ali Hajji Zadeh, Commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerial forces has said that the downing of American drones was the “serious demand” of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Hajji Zadeh added that Ayatollah Khamenei, “emphasised that the drones are not seen, but they collect information and thus striking and downing them was part of the serious demands of the Supreme Leader from the commanders”.

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Ahmadinejad government-affiliated news site shoots back at IRGC criticism

Shabake-ye Iran which is tied to the government affiliated Iran Newspaper has criticized a number of high ranking members of the Revolutionary Guard and their criticisms of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, going as far as to say, “perhaps Iran is the only country where some of its military servicemen up to this level, at any moment they desire, can attack the highest office [i.e. the presidency]”.

The article also complains of the lack of oversight vis-à-vis the political manoeuvring of the Revolutionary Guards, even frontally attacking Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guards, Hojjat al-Islam Ali Saeidi:

“Apparently the investigator in the Revolutionary Guards is the person of Hojjat al-Islam Saeidi, but his position is clear. Perhaps Mr. Saeidi needs at times an investigator himself”.

Over the last year Ahmadinejad’s relations with a section of the Revolutionary Guards has noticeably deteriorated, to some extent paralleling the president’s uneasy relationship with Iran’s Supreme Leader. As a result some frank criticism and jibes being exchanged between the two.

Shabake-ye Iran also claimed that the previous Political Deputy of the Revolutionary Guards, Ali Ashraf Nuri, was cast aside because of his “moderate” positions regarding the government. His successor by contrast, Commander Rasul Sanai Rad, is a known critic of President Ahmadinejad and the incumbent government. It has been implied on numerous occasions by government affiliated outlets that his appointment was political in nature.

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Revolutionary Guards’ political deputy accuses Ahmadinejad of narcissism and delusion

The political deputy of the Revolutionary Guards, Rasul Sanai Rad, without mentioning the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by name, has criticized the latter’s failure to write a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, clearly apologizing for his recent conduct.

In a meeting of Revolutionary Guard commanders in Semnan province, Sanai Rad stated that someone who claims to have “esteem” for the Supreme Leader, but in a “narcissistic” atmosphere, is not prepared to write a letter apologizing, cannot account for such inconsistency in his behavior.

The reference to sentiments of “esteem” or “regard” for the Supreme Leader is a clear reference to the president’s most recent letter to the Supreme Leader in the aftermath of the controversial exchange of insults and threats that took place between Majles speaker, Ali Larijani, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the course of the impeachment hearing of the government’s labor minister. Since the incident, both Majles speaker, Ali Larijani, and judiciary chief, Sadeq Larijani, have sent letters of contrition to Khamenei.

Sanai Rad added that a number of individuals who entered the political fray with “the slogan for unfurling the flag of justice and fighting corruption” are “after the preservation of power at any price” and are “involved in manifest deviance.”

The Revolutionary Guard commander stressed that “in political psychology, an individual who finds himself engrossed in political narcissism and who thinks himself superior to others, is not able to accept criticism, doesn’t accept the word of others and becomes susceptible to delusion.”

Sanai Rad’s appointment late last year as political deputy to the IRGC was regarded as a political decision by Ahmadinejad government supporters, as he has proven to be a regular and stinging critic of the administration.

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Head of Iran’s National Security Commission says West will be the ‘loser’ if nuclear negotiations fail

The head of the Majles’ National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, has told Tasnim News that “in the event of negotiations not yielding results, the West will be the real loser.”

Boroujerdi stressed: “The Islamic Republic of Iran doesn’t have a problem with the negotiations with the P5+1 yielding results and has always acted in accordance with its commitments in its peaceful nuclear activities.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran in its negotiations with the agency [International Atomic Energy Agency] also has on numerous occasions proven its peaceful nuclear activities and the Agency with repeated inspections and research has reached this conclusion [the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities]. But again the interference of America and its Western allies confronts the Iranian nuclear file with a challenge.”

“The process of peaceful nuclear activity, not only in these last nine months but during the last 10 years have made notable progress and we have attained noteworthy results in nuclear technology.”

“Our expectations from the Western side are that it be prepared to come to the negotiating table with a rational approach, in the framework of its own commitments and without manoeuvring for the benefit of hegemonic countries, and not have a further expectationthan the actual rights of Iran.”
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Powerful ally behind the scenes to Iran’s Supreme Leader dies in Saudi Arabia

Khoshvaght and Khamenei

The hard-line Ayatollah Azizollah Khoshvaght died in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday [Feb. 20] after a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Khoshvaght was not only a vociferous critic of Iran’s Reformists and Green Movement, dubbing the latter’s leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Karroubi, “apostates,” but was also an important ally behind the scenes and a relative by marriage to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khoshvaght’s daughter was married to one of Khamenei’s sons, Seyed Mostafa Hosseini Khamenei.

Khoshvaght is also reputed to have been among a small circle of clergymen, close to the security forces, alleged to be responsible for issuing fatwas or religious rulings legitimating the execution of Iranian dissidents and intellectuals in 2000.

Political analyst Hossein Bastani has written an insightful essay published by BBC Persian about Khoshvaght, who has resided in relative obscurity compared to other much more well-known hard-line ayatollahs such as Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi or Guardian Council chief, Ahmad Jannati.

The wife of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the assassinated nuclear scientist, recently related a  story in which she speaks of one of her husband’s meetings with Ayatollah Khoshvaght, who had apparently studied ethics with the aged ayatollah. When Ahmadi Roshan asked him, “How close is the reappearance of the 12th Imam?” she says Khoshvaght replied, “It depends on what you’re doing in Nantaz.” As Bastani notes, while the anecdote may not have any reflection on Iran’s actual nuclear program, it certainly indicates Khoshvaght’s views of it, and his apocalyptic worldview.

Khoshvaght is also said to have warned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the threat of earthquakes because of “poor veiling” in Iran’s capital. Khoshvaght, according to Conservative sources, previously claimed that a drought in 1997 was punishment for the election of Reformist-inclined President Mohammad Khatami.

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Has Iran’s presidential election begun on Facebook?

Facebook Rezaei

Serat News reports on the various Facebook profile pages of Iranian politicians and “probable electoral candidates.” The Serat editorial states that the country’s electoral laws prohibit premature electioneering and that doing so can be interpreted as an electoral violation. Nonetheless, the article goes on, several individuals have “circumvented” the law by setting up Facebook profiles and fan pages.

Facebook Qalibaf

The article continues that while clerics who plan to compete in the presidential race such as Ali Fallahian and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, have not shown themselves particularly disposed toward “modern advertising,” laymen such as Mohsen Rezaei, Mohammad Reza Bahonar and Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf have an active presence on the social networking site, with multiple accounts bearing their names.

Facebook Jalili

Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a member of the 2+1 presidential electoral coalition and in-law to Iran’s supreme leader, also have a presence on Facebook with pages dedicated to their online promotion. Serat does, however, admit that it is often not entirely clear who is, in fact, responsible for running these profiles and fan pages.

Facebook Haddad Adel

Serat was also sure to mention a page entitled “I hate Mashaei,” attacking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial ally, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

When speaking of the Reformist candidates, the article claims that their presence is less significant, only mentioning Mohammad Reza Aref and Mostafa Kavakebian. No mention is made of former President Mohammad Khatami, or Interior Minister Abdollah Nuri, who it has also been speculated could attempt to run.

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High ranking Reformists have first meeting with Supreme Leader since 2009

The Reformist daily Etemaad has reported that three well-known Reformist politicians have met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The politicians were former MP and vice president for Legal affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Hojjat al-Islam Majid Ansari, Hojjat al-Islam Abdol Vahed Mousavi Lari, a former Interior Minister and Eshaq Jahangiri, a former Minister of the Industry. It has also been speculated that Jahangiri could be a potential presidential candidate put forward by the Reformists.

According to Etemaad the last official meeting between members of the Reformist camp and the Supreme Leader was 16 June 2009 when representatives of the presidential candidates attended a meeting in order to convey the latter’s views on key issues. Moreover, it is claimed that since that day there have been no reports of meetings between the Supreme Leader and the Reformists.

Ansari, who is also a member of the Reformist Assembly of Combatant Clergy, described the meeting as “very good” and added that a number of the major issues facing the country were discussed. Details however, were not forthcoming. But apparently the upcoming presidential election was not addressed in the course of the meeting.

The meeting is significant insofar as since Iran’s controversial 2009 presidential election which saw the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a considerable swathe of Reformist politicians have been jailed and pushed to the side lines of Iranian political life. Two of the major Reformist political organizations, the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Iran Participation Front, were also dissolved.

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

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.”

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Head of Ammar Strategic Base: Syria is Iran’s 35th Province; if we lose Syria we cannot keep Tehran

Mehdi Taeb

Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Taeb, the head of the Ammar Strategic Base (an organization established to fight the “soft war” against the Islamic Republic of Iran), in a meeting with university student members of the Basij paramilitary force, has stated: “Syria is the 35th province [of Iran] and a strategic province for us. If the enemy attacks us and wants to appropriate either Syria or Khuzestan (in southern Iran), the priority is that we keep Syria.”

Taeb added: “If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran … Syria had an army, but did not have the ability to manage a war inside Syria’s cities. It is for this reason the Iranian government suggested that “in order to manage an urban war you must form a Basij …The Syrian Basij was formed with 60,000  [members] of the party of God [the religious and ideologically zealous] who took over the war in the streets from the army”.

Taeb also commented on the upcoming presidential election stating: “The main choices of the Reformists are [Mohammad Ali] Najafi, [Mohammad Reza] Aref, and Eshagh Jahangiri, although they still haven’t reached a conclusion on them. Hojjat al-Islam Mousavi Khoeiniha [the head of the Reformist Association of Combatant Clerics] says don’t participate in the election, but [former President Mohammad] Khatami says we will participate and his argument is that if we don’t enter [the election] we will forever be eliminated … The hit we [Taeb is now referring to himself and fellow radical Principalists] took from the last election was that Ahmadinejad was not a team player. If he stayed with the team of the ninth government [Ahmadinejad’s first term], he would have become a legend and the difficulties endured because of sanctions wouldn’t have been as much.”

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