Jalili Says ‘Rights’ of Western Women Must Be Defended

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Iranian presidential candidate and apparent frontrunner Saeed Jalili gave a speech on Wednesday at a women’s conference in which he discussed his views on women’s role in society.

In differentiating between the Western and Islamic societies, Jalili said that “The base is with the family. And [in] the meetings and seminars conducted with the supreme leader, what shapes a society is not the individual, but the family.” He continued, “The differing views bring about different effects. Western thought says that an individual’s capacity in society must viewed from a cost-benefit approach because women are half of the population and half of the work force cannot be ignored, and they must be used to move the economy; they’ve even passed laws based on this thought. The structure of their society has taken shape based on this view.”

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Reformist Candidate Says Iran in Danger, Mentions Mousavi

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Reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref distinguished himself from the other candidates yesterday in his television interview by mentioning the name of former presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest without charge for two years for contesting the 2009 presidential election.

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15 Reasons Why Ahmadinejad Supports Jalili

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Certain Iranian media have begun to speculate that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will ultimately support presidential candidate Saeed Jalili. Ahmadinejad has long supported his ally and chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei for the presidency. However, Mashaei was disqualified by the Guardian Council to run.

The Alef website, which is close to traditional conservative parliament member Ahamd Tavakoli, mentioned the support of pro-Ahmadinejad for Jalili, and their immediate denial. Muhammad Sahimi covered and analyzed in Muftah the support of websites close to Ahmadinejad of Jalili’s candidacy. The Entekhab website, which is not friendly to Ahmadinejad, quoted an article from pan-Arab Al Hayat in which they claim that Mashaei has handed his campaign staff over to Jalili.

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Iranian Candidate Gives Surprising Contentious TV Interview

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Iran’s presidential candidates have been taking turns participating in special 45-minute interviews with Iran’s Channel 2. After a short introduction, candidates sit with the host of the series, Hassan Abedini, to present their positions to the Iranian public.

Most interviews with the taciturn Abedini have been uneventful. The candidates would talk for long stretches unchallenged, mostly in general terms. Even bizarre moments like that when apparent frontrunner Saeed Jalili suggested that Iran offset some of the Western sanctions against Iran by investing in popsicle-stick factories went challenged.

However, former nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani’s interview took a surprising turn in which he went on the offensive, even at point challenging Abedini directly. Rouhani defended his time as nuclear negotiator, criticized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

Rouhani, who is a member of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, presented himself as a “moderate” who has worked with all sides and has avoided extremism in his views. Rouhani is also close to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years and in charge of nuclear negotiations from 2003 to 2005.

In the first question regarding Rouhani’s time as nuclear negotiator, Abedini made a reference to P5+1 negotiations, to which Rouhani corrected him: “Mr. Abedini, don’t be mistaken in your question. My negotiations were with the EU-3, not P5+1.” Rouhani then explained the conditions which previous negotiations took place, saying, “What did America want to do? They wanted to send our case to the UN Security Council. They wanted what he had technologically to not be complete. We were after an opportunity to complete our technology.”

Rouhani said that when the three ministers of Europe were invited to Iran, they promised to veto America at the UN with respect to Iran’s nuclear program. He continued, “And this was during the era of Bush, when crazy neocons had attacked Afghanistan, occupied Iraq and everyone said that Iran is next. … During that era, we didn’t allow war. We didn’t allow our case to go to the Security Council.” Rouhani said of his era, “During that time, we started with ministers and then started negotiating with the presidents. This is what we should do today.”

Abedini then asked him about specific agreements and suspensions that took place in the nuclear program when Rouhani was in charge of negotiations. Rouhani responded, “What you said is a lie, you know it’s a lie. … This talk is what ignorant people say, you are versed in this.” Rouhani continued, rather excitedly and with a smile, “Maybe the person speaking to you in your earpiece doesn’t know, but you know.” After another challenge by Abedini, Rouahni responded, “It’s good for you to read history.” Rouahani then started listing Iran’s achievements during the era in question, incrementally raising his volume and emphasis with each achievement.

“We suspended the program?” Rouhani asked rhetorically. “We completed the program. This is unethical behavior of the IRIB that has gotten into you. And the person who is speaking into your earpiece, this unethical behavior has gotten into him too.” Abedini then interrupted him: “I have read your book from beginning to end twice.” To this, Rouhani responded, “Well done, please read it a third time.”

Of Iran’s IRIB state TV, which technically operates under the administration but is generally believed to controlled by or at least close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani said, “I wish there were justice at IRIB. I wish there were constructive criticism, which we would be thankful for. But if someone is attacked and accused on IRIB, for them not to have to call the head of the IRIB and see if he has permission to go on or not. It would be good if someone was attacked one night and the next morning they would be invited and have the opportunity to speak too. Many prominent figures, many people who have been lashed with a whip in the Shah’s government, many people who were close to Ayatollah Khomeini, have been insulted on IRIB. Unfortunately, IRIB has not acted justly. … Mr. Abedini, tell the head of your organization that those who have been insulted once in a while, and sometimes some have been insulted a lot, give them time, allow them to defend themselves. It won’t hurt. Don’t waste the capital of the revolution.”

Rouhani also attacked Ahamdinejad’s trip to New York for the UN General Assembly, on which he took many family members and reporters with him. “Do you know what justice is, Mr. Abedini?” Rouhani asked. “It means when an official gets into a plane to go to another country, he doesn’t fill the plane with his wife, children and reporters. He should take entrepreneurs. We should learn from Turkey. Wherever their prime minister goes, he takes 100 to 200 entrepreneurs with him.”

Rouhani talked about the instability in the country and the effect it has on unemployment. “We have 3,300,000 unemployed. … Let’s assume it’s three million. If these people are put to work and their output is one million [toman] each [per month], that’s 3,000 billion toman [$2.8 billion]. And the people remember this figure well.” In September of 2011, it was revealed that 3,000 billion toman was embezzled through private and state-owned banks. Some accused Ahmadinejad of having a hand in the embezzlement, although no one directly connected to him was tried.

Rouhani continued, “Because of the embezzlement, the people remember this 3,000 billion. It wasn’t just that embezzlement, which had its day in court. I think it in the court of the people’s conscience. Many should be tried because they haven’t done anything for these three million unemployed. Which family today doesn’t have someone who isn’t unemployed? If the administration had a plan, this couldn’t be solved?”

“Our 20-year outlook was that our rate of growth would be at least eight percent; now it is at three percent, on average. … Which country in our region has a 30% inflation rate? Saudi Arabia has an inflation of 2.9%, and our inflation is above 30% and in certain areas above 40%. Food products in the last 12 months saw an inflation rate of 58%. Why? Because there is no growth in production.” Rouhani then went on to list the number of unemployed college graduates in Iran in different fields.

Prominent Imprisoned Reformist Calls For Boycott of Iran Elections

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Prominent Reformist political figure Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was arrested after the 2009 elections and is currently in Evin prison, has written a letter to the people of Iran, published in full by Norooz News. Tajzadeh, a member of the Reformist group Islamic Iran Participation Front and who served as a minister in for president Mohammad Khatami’s administration, has written numerous letters since his imprisonment.

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Rafsanjani Responds to Disqualification From Presidencial Race

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Opposition website Jaras, which is assumed to be run by a figure close to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, has published parts of Rafsanjani’s first statements since his surprising disqualification by the Guardian Council from running for the presidency. Although Rafsanjani doesn’t mention anyone by name, he has had issues with the hard-line policies of both Khamenei’s advisers and Sepah (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), who have increased their influence and presence in state affairs in the last decade or so.

Rafsanjani, addressing his campaign staff this afternoon, said, “I went to the Supreme Leader and told him that I won’t become a candidate if you have someone you prefer.”

Rafsanjani addressed the response to speculation about his running. “I said, ‘I didn’t say I’m not running,’ and that’s when they started gathering an army [against me]. But that’s also when a flood of letters started coming from Qom, Najaf and Mashhad [major Shia centers] for my candidacy. How could I be so obstinate to say no, especially to the youth?” Continue reading

Iran MP: If Khomeini Were Alive He’d Be Disqualified

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Outspoken conservative Iranian MP Ali Motahari has written a controversial letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in response to the disqualification of Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanani, who is one of the founding members of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was disqualified by the Guardian Council to run for Iran’s presidential elections in June. The decision stunned many and is viewed by some analysts as a sign of Khamenei’s increasing concentration of power.

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Mehr News Leaks Unconfirmed List of Candidates

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Mehr News has published an unconfirmed list of approved candidates leaked from the Interior Ministry. The Guardian Council presented their list of approved candidates today to the minister of interior, who will make the official announcement tomorrow. Although the list is still unofficial, it was re-published by other sites and shared widely on social media.

According to the Mehr report, a list of eight candidates have been approved. They are Gholamali Haddad Adel, top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Secretary-General of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei, former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani, former vice president under Mohammad Khatami Mohammad Reza Aref, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Foreign-Policy Adviser to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati and former minister under Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani Mohammad Gharazi.

The list excludes two notable candidates: Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

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Presidential Candidate’s Father Denies Ties to Shah’s Secret Police

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An interview with the father of presidential candidate Kamran Bagheri Lankarani with opposition website Rooz Online on April 29 has resurfaced and gained traction recently in Iranian media. Lankarani, who has the backing of hard-line Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s Endurance Front, is a physician and was health minister under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first term.

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Rafsanjani’s Benz at Center of Controversy

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Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council which vets potential candidates, made controversial comments alluding to Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s wealth and car on Friday. The news quickly caught on, spreading on social media, and even prompted a response from a Rafsanjani ally about Jannati’s own car.

At Tehran Friday prayers, Jannati, who’s also one of the handful of temporary Tehran Friday prayer leaders appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, took part of sermon to explain the qualifications a president must have. He said: “A president must live a simple life, and this simple life must start with him, meaning his house, his personal belongings, and the car he rides must be simple. A person who speaks of living a simple life but rides in a Benz doesn’t understand the people’s pain when they’re hungry and doesn’t sympathize with the lower classes.” Continue reading