Khamenei Rep: US-Iran War Due to ‘Conflict of Beliefs’

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The Supreme Leader’s representative to Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] said, “A soft war comes from the conflict of beliefs, and our war today with America also comes from this conflict of beliefs, and in this war all of Islam stands against all of the unbelievers.”

Hojat al-Islam Ali Saeedi, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to Sepah, warned that “when the enemy cannot move forward with a soft war, they will start a hard war.” He made these statements in the eastern city of Mashhad yesterday.

The term “soft war” is often referred to as a cultural war that many Iranian officials believe the US and the West are waging against Iran to change the identity and tastes of its public, so that it becomes more friendly to the West and, in their eyes, less Islamic.

Saeedi framed Iran’s standing in the Islamic world this way: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is holding the banner of Islam and it is standing against two imperfect forms of Islam.” The first Islam he described as one “that has taken the shape of al-Qaeda, which has been promoted from the Salafi-Wahabi Arab countries [in the Persian Gulf].” The second “imperfect Islam” that Saeedi believes Iran stands against is from the Western, “secularized Islam, such as one that is present in Turkey.” Continue reading

Iran Summons Saudi Chargé d’Affaires Over Spy Allegations

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The Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Saudi chargé d’affaires in Tehran over the arrest of 18 individuals accused of spying for Iran.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry announced that the arrest of 18 individuals who they claim has links to “Iranian intelligence services.” Of those arrested, 16 were Saudi, one was Iranian and one was Lebanese. Shiite leaders in Saudi Arabia criticized the arrests as being politically motivated and sectarian.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry called the accusations by the Saudi interior minister “baseless” and meant for media consumption. Iran has sought “official explanations” in these accusations.

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Rafsanjani, Khatami Asked to ‘Save’ Iran

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Conservative website Baztab Emrooz has published an op-ed by Foad Sadeghi asking Iran’s two previous presidents, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, to help Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “save” Iran by participating in the upcoming elections.

The article shares that based on the speeches of Ayatollah Khamenei, “the fundamental issue of the elites of the country, in the 40 days remaining until the process of the elections officially starts, is to present solutions to pass through the critical conditions and unprecedented threats” facing Iran.

The article listed eight issues that Iran is facing, with the first one being “the American and Israeli position against Iran’s nuclear program, which has turned into an international issue that has been taken up the Security Council.” Other issues were the “acceptance” of the  “events of the 2009 elections” and addressing “the undeniable, tangible effects of the economic sanctions.” Continue reading

‘Argo’ A Sign of America’s ‘Political Desperation,’ Says Iran Presidential Candidate

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Hojat Al-Islam Mostafa Pourmohammadi, presidential candidate and head of the Judiciary’s Inspection Organization, described the Oscar-winning film as “neither strong nor good in story or structure” to Mehr News agency on Sunday.

Pourmohammadi said that America’s “political desperation shows that America has reached a point that it needs to give a film like ‘Argo’ a prize.” He compared “Argo” to the Iranian film by Asghar Farhadi “A Separation,” which won the Best Foreign film Oscar last year. He said that “when we see ‘Argo,’ our admiration for ‘A Separation’ grows,” adding that “although there are critiques to be made of the film, as far as the message, capacity, originality and structure, [‘A Separation’] has room for praise.”

Most Iranian political figures have been skeptical of Iranian films that have reached critical acclaim in Europe and America and have accused the filmmakers of painting “a dark picture” of political or social life Iran. Pourmohammadi’s praise of “A Separation,” which centered on divorce and immigration, two increasingly prominent themes in Iranian life, seemed mostly a response to “Argo.”

“Argo” has reportedly been a popular movie on the black market in Iran. Pourmohammadi encouraged those who want to view the movie to watch it with a “critical” eye.

Renewed Calls for the Release of Mousavi and Karoubi

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A prominent political figure from the traditional right has renewed his calls for the release of opposition figures Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest. Habibolla Asgarowladi, who heads the Followers of Imam and Supreme Leader Front, described the two-year house detention of the 2009 presidential candidates as “a lock that, if not opened, will cause problems again in the next elections.”

This is not the first time Asgarowladi has called for the release of the two opposition figures, nor is it the first time he has a used a lock analogy to describe their imprisonment and political situation.

Asgarowladi continued that “the lock was an attachment of Mousavi and Karoubi to the sedition [2009 post-election uprising]; while the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] said that the seditionists were the Americans and the Zionists, and from this I deduced that there is a difference between the sedition and those who fell under the sedition.”

Asgarowladi also said that he believed that the Principalist 2+1 Coalition between Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Supreme Leader advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and GholamAli Haddad Adel was “rushed” and that they should have waited before making the announcement.

In reference to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two terms, Asgarowladi said that the process of “consulting was trampled.” He added that “from the perspective of the Quran, consulting has a lot of value.” He critiqued Ahmadinejad for clashing with the different branches of the government. Asgarowladi said that bills “approved by parliament and the Guardian Council are laws, both Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and Agha [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] have both confirmed this procedure. It is not correct for someone to say ‘I do not accept this procedure.’”

In regard to “war and peace,” Asgarowladi said that “according to the law, only the Supreme Leader can express his opinions” on these issues.

Iran General: Israel’s Apology To Turkey Meant to Weaken ‘Regional Resistance’

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Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces said that “the apology from the prime minister of the Zionist regime to the government of Turkey for the attacks on the [Turkish] ship in 2010 is a new game by America, Israel and Turkey to influence regional resistance, especially the Islamic Awaking [Arab Spring].”

IRGC General Massoud Jazayeri told Sepah News on Saturday that “under today’s conditions, the prime movement of the world arrogance is to replace Iran’s [place] in the Islamic world.” He added that “the elite of the Islamic world must be alert and conscious and not allow America and its allies to lessen public awareness.”

On President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for Israel’s raid on a Turkish ship that was attempting to pass through its naval blockade of the Gaza strip in 2010. The raid left nine dead. Netanyahu was quoted as saying that the crisis in Syria was “his main motivation” for the call.

General Jazayeri added that the “the combination of those against Syria proves the government’s and country’s legitimacy.” He explained that “right now, America, England, France, Arab reactionaries, Turkey, and the Zionist regime form the prime anti-Syrian ring and this combination is a good indication of an anti-resistance front.” Iran sees itself, Syria and Hezbollah in an “axis of resistance” against American and Israeli influence in the region. They view the support by the West and Gulf Arab countries as a means to weaken this axis.

Ahmadinejad Ally Warns About Interference in Elections

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In an interview with state-run IRNA yesterday, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei said that “the president has strongly emphasized and has even stated that if he feels that either secretly or openly the elections become tainted, he will deal with it seriously.” Mashei said that in a meeting with the governors of the provinces the president warned against “showing partisanship” towards any of the candidates during the administration of the elections.

Iran’s presidential elections are in June 2013 and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been using the final months of his presidency to campaign and promote his longtime advisor Mashei as a candidate for the presidency. Since the president’s second term Mashaei has been attacked by conservatives and hardliners for an apparent promotion of “Iranianism” over “Islamism” and has been accused of being at the center of a “deviant” strain within the administration.

President Ahmadinejad had previously warned on several occasions about “interference” in these upcoming elections. In January of this year, Hojat al-Islam Ali Saeedi, Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guard said that “[the body’s essence] is to engineer the elections logically and rationally.”

Mashaei also criticized national media for their coverage of the elections. He said that “on the threshold of elections, from the view of partisanship towards candidates in the upcoming presidential elections, the national media has not performed well.” He added that “people remember well the performance the national media in the previous elections and that the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) should act with care and pursue a more moderate path.”

In the June 2009 elections, heated and somewhat sensational televised live debates between presidential candidates drew in millions of viewers. Live televised debates have been banned for these upcoming elections.

Khamenei: If Israel Attacks us, ‘Tel Aviv and Haifa Will Be Razed To The Ground’

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This was the top story and headline on many websites inside Iran. Even Iran’s English-language Press TV highlighted this part of the speech to lead one of their segments.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, made these statements while giving a speech in the Eastern Iranian city of Mashhad yesterday. This was his first speech of the New Year. Although the Supreme Leader made these controversial statements, some believe there were positive points to his speech as well, particularly about negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

After beginning his speech by discussing the “economic progress” Iran experienced the previous year, Khamenei change the subject to America. He said that “America is at the center of conspiracies against Iran, and after 34 years, whenever the [the word] enemy is mentioned, America quickly comes to people’s minds.” He added that “the leaders of America should carefully reflect on in this issue and ask themselves why” this is so.

The Supreme Leader said that “there are also other enemies, such as the wicked English government.” He also said that France “especially in recent years, since [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, has made clear its enmity with Iran.”

In regard to Israel, Khamenei said that they “are not at the level to be counted as Iran’s enemy.” He continued that “sometimes, the leaders of the Zionist regime also threaten us; they make threats of a military strike. But in my opinion, they know themselves, and if they don’t, they should know that if they make a mistake, the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”

Khamenei said that despite the efforts of the Americans, “the world community is in no way an enemy of Iran.”

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In regard to the Western sanctions on Iran, Khamenei said that “the Americans, despite their apparent statements of friendship with Iran, from the beginning of the previous year they started with severe sanctions on oil and banks, and they insist that with these hostile acts, not to be considered an enemy.” He said that “if the sanctions had an effect, the fundamental reason is that the country’s economy is attached to oil.” He stressed the need to design “a plan to have an economy not attached to oil as a priority for future administrations.” Khamenei added that an economy not dependent on oil “is possible on the condition that there is correct planning and execution.”

On the nuclear issue, Khamenei said that “it’s been some time that the Americans from various channels have sent messages that they want to hold separate negotiations with Iran about the nuclear program, but based on previous experiences I am not optimistic.” He added that “from the American’s viewpoint, the meaning of talks is to encourage the opposing side to accept their terms.” However, he said that he “is not opposed to negotiations.”

Khamenei said that “many times we said we are not after a nuclear weapon, but the Americans say, ‘We don’t believe you.’ Under these conditions, why should we believe the Americans?” about their intentions on negotiations. He added that “our take is that the recommendation of negotiations is a tactic by the Americans to deceive world public opinion and the Iranian people, and if that is not the case, the Americans need to prove this with their actions.”

One of the tactics Khamenei referred to was the issue of negotiations between America and a representative of the Supreme Leader. Khamenei said that “they said that some [representatives] of the Supreme Leader have negotiated with America, while such words are sheer lies, until now no one from the Supreme Leader has negotiated with America.” Khamenei however did admit that “various administrations, on some specific issues, have negotiated with the Americans, and on those negotiations the administration was bound to observe the Supreme Leader’s red lines.”

Khamenei said that “if the Americans are really inclined to solve the nuclear issue with Iran, they must acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.” He added, “if the Americans truly want to end this case, the path to a solution that we recommend is that in words and deeds, to stop the enmities with the nation of Iran.”

Khamenei Predicts ‘Epic’ Year Ahead

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, addressed the Iranian people yesterday with his Nowruz message. He began his speech by addressing “Iranians all across the world […] especially the dear ones who have sacrificed themselves, the families of martyrs, the veterans and their families.”

Khamenei likened the previous calendar year to life in general, in that it “had its sweet moments and bitter moments, its victories and defeats,” but he emphasized that “what is important is to get out of the valleys and take ourselves to the peaks.”

Ayatollah Khamenei reminded Iranians that “the enemies have targeted different fields, primarily in the political and economic arenas.”

He said that in the field of economics, the enemy “said that through sanctions they want to cripple the Iranian nation.” Although Khamenei said that there was “various growth” in the field of economics, ultimately “there was pressure put on the people,” which with their own “shortcomings and oversights, helped the enemy’s plans.”

In the field of politics, Khamenei said “that their plan was from one direction to isolate Iran and the other direction to create uncertainty and doubt, but the exact opposite happened.” Khamenei pointed to the fact that the 16th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was hosted in Tehran August 2012 as an indication that Iran has indeed not been isolated.

Khamenei said that “of what we are looking ahead to in the following year, the fields of economics and politics are of primary importance.” Khamenei reiterated the need to focus on “domestic production” and hoped that for the presidential elections, “the people, with their presence, will strive for a good future for the country and themselves.”

Ayatollah Khamenei concluded that “with this view, the next year will be named ‘The Year of Epic Politics and Epic Economics.’”

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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also addressed the political and economic situation in his Nowruz speech. In regards to economics, the president said “those who want ill for Iran, in an open cooperation between those inside and outside” the country, have put Iran “under unparalleled economic and psychological pressure to distort the historical successes and achievements” of his presidency.

Amadinejad spent a considerable part of his speech on the upcoming presidential elections. He predicted the elections would be “vibrant and have a near-100% participation rate,” and with a “decisive vote” elect a president that will address “domestic, regional and international” issues in the interests of Iran.  He continued that these elections “for the people and political leaders are a determinant and historical responsibility.”

The president said that Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leaders of the Islamic Republic’s history, have both previously said that even they “only have one vote, and the right of vote belongs to the nation.” While some found this comment to be a direct attack on Khamenei, others found it ironic given that many believe Ahmadinejad’s 2009 victory was achieved primarily through vote rigging that was inspired by Khamenei’s endorsement.

Iran Media Skeptical About Obama’s Nowruz Message

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In a video to the Iranian people and leaders on Monday, President Barrack Obama released his fifth Nowruz message. The Nowruz New Year holiday is one of the most important and oldest holidays in Iran and is celebrated in many other countries in the Middle East and the Caucuses as well.

In the nearly four-minute speech, President Obama addressed the “decades of mistrust” between Iran and the US and reiterated his preference to resolve questions about Iran’s nuclear program “peacefully and diplomatically.” He reminded the Iranian leaders that “now is the time for the Iranian government to take immediate and meaningful steps to reduce tensions and work toward an enduring, long-term settlement of the nuclear issue.” He added that if a solution is reached, “the Iranian people will begin to see the benefits of greater trade and ties with other nations, including the United States.”

Hardline website Raja News wrote that “Obama showed with this message that he has tried to attract the confidence of the people of Iran with words and show.” The article added that “even though in the beginning of his message he focused on the need to solve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program through negotiations, at the end of his message he contradicted himself by speaking with a threatening tone about the continuation of pressure on the people!”

The Raja article asked that since “the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency has not shown that Iran has deviated into a nuclear-weapons program, so for what reason is America worried, and why are the Iranian people witnessing this pressure and sanctions from the European Union and the West?”

The articled embedded a video of Obama’s message but oddly omitted his greeting. Perhaps because Obama used the Persianized “doroud” rather than the Arabized “salaam” for his greeting. Although both can be used, “salaam” is most commonly used in Iran, while “dorood” has become somewhat more pervasive in the Iranian Diaspora in recent years.

Toward the end of his speech, President Obama quoted a verse from a poem by Hafez: “Plant the tree of friendship that bears the fruit of fulfillment; uproot the sapling of enmity that bears endless suffering.” The 14th Century poet Hafez was born in Shiraz, Iran and his tomb in Shiraz is a popular site for tourists.

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Conservative website Enthekhab surmised that the president “apparently used his Shirazi advisor, Valerie Jarrett, while acknowledging the Iranian nation’s long history and civilization, made a reference to a poem by the famous Iranian poet Hafez.” Jarrett was born in Shiraz to American parents and is currently a senior adviser to the president.

Entekhab said that “analysts” believe that “this message is like the previous [Nowruz] messages and only with a change of expressions and the use of Iranian advisers […] sought to take advantage of the nation’s feelings with references to the national and Islamic identity of Iranians.” The president did not make a reference to Islam in his speech.

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Hardline website Mashreg wrote that the president’s message was “more than an address to the Iranian people; it was a negative answer to the Zionist regime’s demands that Washington intensify their hostilities against Tehran.” The article also found it noteworthy that the president used the word “Spring” and “Nowruz” in the same way that “some [Ahmadinejad] did domestically.” President Ahmadinejad has been using traditional Iranian festivals as a sort of a campaign rally to promote his ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashei as a possible candidate in the next presidential elections.

Mashreg suggested that “one should wait and see what Obama and his administration do this upcoming year, and do they act as Hafez recommends and uproot from its roots the sapling of enmities against the Iranian people, which has turned into a tree, or does he apply more pressure.”

Khatami Receives Blueprint for Reform Agenda

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The contents of the first of a series of strategy sessions were presented to former Reformist president Mohammad Khatami yesterday to address the problems Iran is currently facing.

The contents of the session, which was signed by 46 former Khatami advisers, experts, analysts, economists and political and cultural activists, was presented under the name “Fears and Hopes, Dos and Don’ts.” The purpose of the session was “to find a path to free people from the various economic, social, political and cultural problems” they are facing. The various problems were described in various categories such as “social and cultural, economic,” and “political” sections. A list of 11 conditions, such as “freedom, justice,” and “civil rights” were also presented.

In response to the plan presented to him, Khatami wrote a short letter in appreciation. He wrote that he has “hope that the next steps […] to solve the problems” will be taken. Khatami’s positive response is seen by some as an indication he may be getting ready to announce his candidacy for the presidential elections this summer.

On Sunday Hojat Al-Islam Jaffar Shojouni, a member of the Society of Militant Clergy, predicted that Reformists would not be approved by the Guardian Council to participate in the presidential elections this summer. He also called Reformists either “stupid, ignorant or culpable” for the events surrounding the 2009 elections.

On Saturday, an opposition website reported that former Reformist politician Hossein Loghmanian was arrested in Hamedan on his way to visit Khatami in Tehran. Hamedan is just over 200 miles southwest of Tehran. Loghmanian was Hamedan’s representative in Iran’s 6th parliament. He was arrested alongside four companions described as “Reformist activists.” No reason for their arrested was given.

In Other News

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An employee from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran was involved in a car accident that left an Iranian citizen dead yesterday in north Tehran. The Saudi employee was reportedly drunk and speeding, and bottles of alcohol were found in his car. Alcohol is banned in Iran; however, a variety of alcoholic drinks are smuggled inside the country. The position of the Saudi employee was not given, and only his initials were provided by the Iranian media.

Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said today that “a strong protest was sent to the [Saudi] embassy for this event from an individual that did not abide by domestic laws and exceeded speed limits […] that resulted in the death of an Iranian citizen.” Mehmanparast said that Iran would pursue “a diplomatic and legal” path in regards to this case.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jaffari Dowlatabadi announced on Sunday that 18 individuals have been indicted in relation the assassination of nuclear scientists. Jaffar Dowlatabadi said that “the following year, important work will be done, which I will announce now, and that is a number of people involved in the assassination of martyrs of the nuclear program.”

Jaffar Dowlatabadi added that the 18 people indicted “had designed many plans; they were considered our elites in the nuclear program,” adding that these indictments were a joint operation with the prosecutor’s office and the ministry of intelligence.