Foreign Minister Salehi reacts positively to John Kerry appointment

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The conservative website Khabar Online, close to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani, has reported Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi’s “positive reaction” to the choice of John Kerry as the new US secretary of state.

Salehi stated his hope that John Kerry, by means of his “individual qualities,” can “reform some of the anti-Iranian approaches and policies of the American government.”

Salehi made the comments on the sidelines of veteran politician Hassan Habibi’s funeral ceremony.

Salehi continued, calling Kerry “a recognized face” in American foreign policy, who is familiar with the changes undergone by the Middle East.

The Khabar Online article also states that Kerry advocated “direct negotiations with Iran” in the course of his 2004 electoral campaign for the US presidency.

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Khamenei’s representative in IRGC rejects the Islam of the Taliban and Turkey’s Erdogan

Hojjat al-Islam Ali Saeidi, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guards,said  in a speech delivered in the southern city of Bushehr: “We have several kinds of readiness for the reappearance of the Hidden Imam, such as individual and social readiness which does not instigate [his reappearance], individual readiness which does instigate [his reappearance] and a third kind of readiness which helps create the government of the Hidden Imam before his return … Before the reappearance of the Hidden Imam we needed a Mahdist government and the Islamic Revolution of Iran was on the course [set down by] the Hidden Imam.”

“The fourth kind of readiness is the change in the Middle East for the reappearance of the Hidden Imam and until a time when change [still] doesn’t encompass the whole of the Middle East, the Hidden Imam will not reappear.”

“The people of America must understand that their problem is their apostate and idolatrous leaders and they must know the Democratic and Republican Party and European Union will not heal any pains and will ultimately reach a dead end.”

Saeidi also invoked the name of Turkish Prime Minsiter Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stating that “the Islam of the Taliban and Al Qaeda has created problems for Islam [as has the] truncated and secular Islam of the kind [advocated] by Erdogan … We have stood against the Taliban and secular Islam; we introduce pure Islam to the world.”

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Supreme Leader’s Representative in IRGC Endorses Fars News

Hojjat al-Islam Ali Saeidi, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guards has praised Fars News, stating “it is bound by principled beliefs and professionalism”.

Saeidi made his comments in the course of an interview with journalists at Fars’ offices. In a meeting with Nezameddin Mousavi, the executive director of Fars News, Saeidi stated, “that which is very important for a news agency is the trust which readers have with respect to it. This returns to the strategy and operational guidelines and work practices of the media”.

Fars News is well-known amongst English speaking readers for a number of serious journalistic gaffs it has made in the past and which have been covered extensively in the Western media. The most recent being when Fars News‘ English language site plagiarised and took a story in the US based satirical site, The Onion, seriously and posted it on their site.

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Mehr: “Who manages the Facebook pages of the Supreme Leader?”

Mehr News’ magazine has posted this article asking, “Who manages the Facebook pages of the Supreme Leader?”:

“Speculation regarding the Facebook page with the name Khamenei.ir, in particular, after the introduction of this page in the domestic and foreign media has found broader and more complex dimensions.” The most common guess was ‘the Facebook page of Ayatollah Khamenei was initiated by his office.’ Of course, these same sources at the end of their reports mention this point, as this page has not been officially approved, it is still not clear whether someone or the leader’s office in fact initiated the page or not.

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Rafsanjani Renews Call for Reconciliation

The deputy chief of the Majles Commission for Health and Medicine has announced that it will be finalized next week whether a motion for the impeachment of the Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi will be presented before MPs. The deputy chief is quoted by the Majles news agency as stating: “Unfortunately at the moment medicine and medical equipment in the country are in great crisis, [and] it can be observed in the shortage of special drugs and the disarray of hospitals.” The representative for Rasht also criticized the ministry for failing to plan for this eventuality and not stockpiling drugs. Referring to a possible call for the minister’s impeachment, the commission’s deputy chief said: “The subject in recent weeks has become one of the subjects of debate amongst the representatives … On the basis of the planning undertaken, the decision regarding the impeachment of the Minister of Health, Medicine and Medical Education will be finalised next week.”

Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Discernment Council, has stated in an interview with Entekhab that he stands by the comments he made at his final Friday prayer sermon in July 2009, in the aftermath of Iran’s controversial presidential election [and which I attended at the time]. Moreover, as Ebtekar News observes, at the time Rafsanjani was also head of the Assembly of Experts, whose job it is, at least in principle, to monitor the supreme leader’s performance and appoint his successor. Since his famous Friday prayer sermon, Rafsanjani has lost that position to Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, a stalwart of the traditional right, who is foremost concerned with preserving the Islamic system he played an important role in bringing into being.

In his famous Friday prayer sermon, Rafsanjani offered his recommendations for the restoration of calm, as protests had swept the country. Amongst his recommendations were the release of political prisoners and the recognition of the protesters’  demands to the end of realising “national reconciliation.” Since that time Rafsanjani has repeatedly called for such a reconciliation, suggesting it is the only route for the country to return to a state of “normality and calm.” At the time, Rafsanjani’s speech was met with severe criticism by numerous Principalists and Khamenei loyalists, especially in light of the supreme leader’s speech some weeks earlier which had essentially told the protesters to accept Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s re-election and move on.

In his interview Rafsanjani added, comparing the present with his experience in government during the Iran-Iraq war: “At the moment the basic problem is with the foreigners. In the [Iran-Iraq] war it was the same. We gave priority to the reform of foreign relations and we started with the ceasefire. In those negotiations the opposing side also understood that it is faced with a rational movement in Iran. Of course they also cooperated well with us … In that period on the internal scene differences were intensified. My solution was that we form a government that is a combination of the influential wings of the revolution (the conservatives, independents, and the radicals).”

Criticism of Ali and Sadeq Larijani

The website Digarban carries the comments of plainclothes quasi-official vigilantes critical of the Ali and Sadeq Larijani, the Majles speaker and judiciary chief, respectively. Ruhollah Mahdavi, who writes for the hard-line website Bashgah-e Khabarnegaran-e Javan, reacting to the acquittal of preacher Mansur Arzi after having threatened to murder President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, claimed the judiciary was “under the influence” of this preacher.

In reaction to the comments of Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s human rights council, who stated, “If expedient, we will negotiate with America in the depths of hell,” Mahdavi had previously said: “Why doesn’t anyone attack him when the Larijani brother clearly talks about probable relations with America?”

Unlike other hard-line bloggers, particularly Ahmadinejad supporters, who have been arrested as a result of their attacks on the Larijani brothers, Digarban claims that Mahdavi, a self-styled virtual “soldier of the soft war,” enjoys the protection of the Revolutionary Guards.

Majles’ Commission head comments on talks

The head of the Majles’ Commission for National Security and Foreign Policy, Ala’oddin Boroujerdi, commenting on Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 over its controversial nuclear program, has told Khaneh-ye Mellat, the Majles’ news agency: “In the face of confidence building steps that Iran will show in the negotiations and the opportunity the negotiations put in the hands of the West, part of the West’s program in negotiations must be the removal of sanctions”. The MP for Boroujerd added: “The removal of sanctions by the West must for certain be made part of the formula, because [they] are an oppressive, unjust and imposed act upon the Iranian nation”. Finally, he stressed that Iran requires 20% uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and “the principle of enrichment will never change.”

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Controversial Son of Former President Rafsanjani Arrested upon Return to Tehran

Yesterday BBC Persian broadcast footage of Mehdi Hashemi, son of former President Rafsanjani, who continues to head the Expediency Discernment Council, at Dubai International Airport en route to Tehran, stating “I will speak in Iran”. Interestingly enough, Iranian news agencies proved to be heavily reliant on BBC reporting of Mehdi Hashemi’s return after it was thought he might be a no show, after his sister Faezeh Hashemi had been arrested earlier that day. Itwas announced that Ms. Hashemi would begin her 6 month jail term, which had been issued in January of this year, and upheld upon appeal.

Last night Fars News published photos of Mehdi Hashemi returning to Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport, accompanied by his brother and sister, Yaser and Fatemeh. Upon arrival Mehdi was met by a representative of the Public Prosecutor and told to present himself to the latter’s office within 24 hours.

The charges are reported to be numerous, and range from his alleged role in instigating and funding opposition to the ruling elite (in contrast to the establishment as a whole) and Ahmadinejad government specifically, in the turbulent aftermath of the 2009 re-election, which saw the incumbent return to the presidency, and Supreme Leader Khamenei further tighten his grip on power, to millions of dollars’ worth of corruption.

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