Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan newspaper and appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has written an op-ed pleading with the remaining Principilist candidates in the presidential race to form a coalition before the election on Friday. Continue reading
At an “Islamic Awakening” conference in Mashhad Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top foreign-policy adviser said that “today, the arrogant powers have targeted Syria, which in reality is the golden link in the chain of resistance.” Iran believes itself to be in an “Axis of Resistance” with Syria and Hezbollah against Israeli and American hegemony in the region. They also refer to the “Arab Spring” uprisings as “Islamic Awakenings.”
Ali Akbar Velayati, who is also the secretary-general of the World Assembly of the Islamic Awakening, added that the “[arrogant powers] had the goal from the beginning, under the name of “Arab Spring” to overthrow the [Syrian] government, but with the support of Israel and Saudi Arabia, in actuality something else took place.”
A number of outlets offer conflicting reports regarding the death of the Revolutionary Guards’ commander, Hossein Shateri, the chief of Iran’s Headquarters for Reconstruction in Lebanon. Abna news agency reports that this Commander of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in Lebanon at the hands of “agents of Israel.”
It has also been reported that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force, visited the home of Shateri, expressing his condolences to the family of the deceased. Soleimani is also said to have confirmed Shateri’s death soon after it was initially reported.
His funeral ceremony was held Thursday [Feb. 14] in Tehran; it was attended by high-level members of the IRGC command.
While Fars News doesn’t specify the location of Shateri’s death, the non-Iran based website Digarban has reported that a well-known pro-Hezbollah activist and also the Iran-based website Blogh.ir have reported that Shateri was killed along with two other companions in Aleppo by “mercenaries of the Zionist regime.”
According to Fars, Shateri, who also went by the name of Engineer Hesam, was responsible for the reconstruction of southern Lebanon in the aftermath of Hezbollah’s 33-day conflict with Israeli forces in 2006.
Mashreq News has posted several photos of Shateri while on duty in Lebanon.
In other news
The Reformist daily Etemaad reports that former Health Minister, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, might be presented by Principalist women organisations such as the Society of Zeinab as a possible presidential contender.
“If during her time at the ministry Dastjerdi was faced with little commotion and rarely made political statements, but her removal according to many was very “political” and has been announced as following disagreement with some of the president’s and his supporters’ demands and resistance to the removal of her deputy Mohammad Baqer Larijani from the Chair of the Medical Faculty of the University of Tehran.”
The head of the Basij paramilitary, Commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi has spoken out regarding both Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 [ithe five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany] stating: “Some people naively think negotiations with America are important and fruitful, when it is more than 10 years that we are negotiating with the P5+1 group and since these negotiations over 10 years haven’t had a result, negotiations with America won’t work either.”
“They want to pull down the flag of combat against Arrogance which is in Iran’s control, when the Americans have undertaken the most belligerent behaviour in history with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the people, and all the limbs of America commit evil against Iran and with its own language, [America] announces its intention to negotiate.”
Moreover, while not invoking former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani by name, there was little doubt about who Naqdi was criticizing when he said: “These are the same extremists that in the days of the sedition did not show any compassion for Friday prayers, Jerusalem Day and Ashura. How do they today partake in gestures of moderation? Someone who resists the Judiciary over the trial of his family cannot espouse moderation.”
Ali Akbar Velayati, adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and a prospective presidential contender, in a gathering of media outlets from Tunisia, Yemen and Afghanistan, has stated, “When Arab countries understood the hand of America and some reactionary Arab governments are active in Syria, they moved to the side of a political solution.”
Velayati added: “The people of Syria were in pursuit of reform of their own affairs and this was a rightful demand and in order to reach it they embarked on a struggle with the government…These countries are moving towards the formation of a unified Islamic community and transforming the Islamic world into one of the great global powers…In every country the people decide to cast an undesirable government aside and put a desirable government to use.”
The hard-line Ayatollah and patron of the Endurance Front for the Islamic Front, Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, at a doctrinal meeting for the Law Enforcement Forces said that “humanity without religion is mere bestiality,” complaining that after 34 years since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, “the signs of a proclivity towards humanism” is still seen the books and articles of Iranian writers.
Image via Blogh.ir
Cmdr. Ahmad Zolghadr, the deputy head of the Tehran Revolutionary Guards, has said in a speech in Mashhad: “If we had acted on the fatwa of the late imam [Khomeini] and had killed Salam Rushdie, insult against the Prophet of Islam would not take place.”
[Apparently, he meant that subsequent perceived insults including films and cartoons, including the infamous Danish cartoon that led to violence, wouldn’t have been produced.}
The British-Indian writer, Salman Rushdie, famously penned a novel by the name of The Satanic Verses, in reaction to which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the then Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa in February 1989, shortly before his death, urging Muslims to execute the writer on charges of apostasy, stating that his murder was Islamically lawful or halal.
Even after Rushdie recanted and claimed he had returned to the fold of Islam, Khomeini refused to lift the order.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has offered a six-point plan for solving the Syrian crisis, while Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi continues to emphasize that Iran would not under any circumstances support a “Western project for the overthrow by force of Bashar al-Assad.”
The plan stresses at the outset that “only the people of Syria have the right in a democratic process to determine their destiny and the political future of their country.”
The six points are translated below:
- The immediate cessation of any kind of violent or armed action under the supervision of the United Nations. At this stage the government and all armed groups must immediately end all their military activities, especially in residential areas and cooperate with the representative of the United Nations and the committee under their supervision for the stabilization of the conditions [of the country] and the return of calm.
- After the cessation of conflict the provision of humanitarian aid must immediately begin to [be given to] all conflict-stricken areas and without discrimination. In order to secure this important aid it is necessary that economic sanctions against Syria are lifted [and] the ground prepared for all refugees to return to their place of residence.
- At the same time as the establishment of calm, comprehensive national dialogue with the presence of the entire [political] spectrum and different social and political tendencies and the government of Syria, the urgent pursuit of the formation of a committee for national reconciliation. This dialogue must provide the way for the formation of a transitional government on which there is consensus. The main obligation of this government is the holding of free and competitive elections for the formation of a new parliament, the formation of an Assembly of Experts for the formulation of a Constitution and the holding of presidential elections that will be set for a fixed date.
- All individuals who have been merely arrested because of peaceful political activities, irrespective of group or sect, must be quickly freed by the government and opposition groups. Individuals who have perpetrated crimes must be fairly investigated in a competent court.
- The process of incorrect news transmission regarding changes in Syria must end as soon as possible. All the media and media owners must have the possibility to prepare and send news on the conditions of Syria from a secure place and send all the views of the people of this country for the informing of public opinion, in contrast to malicious and discriminatory approaches.
- The formation of a committee for estimating the cost of damages and reconstruction, with attention to the damages to the country’s infrastructure. The obligation of this committee will be for the creation of the appropriate modus operandi for the attraction and guidance of foreign aid, determining priorities for reconstruction and the conditions for the participation of organizations and friendly countries in the process of reconstruction.
In the final part, the Foreign Ministry said that the “key aim of this plan is for the return of calm and peace to Syria and ending the sufferings of the people of this country.”
“This plan like any other similar well-intentioned plan, will have the power to be implemented when the ability for mutual, constructive and collective political engagement between all domestic, Syrian political currents and forces under the influence of regional and international powers rules.”
Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s advisor on international affairs, has denied rumours which have been the object of much discussion regarding his alleged secret visit to the United States to pursue direct negotiations with the United States, calling the rumours a “baseless lie”. As the Reformist daily Etemaad states Velayati was the first to rebut President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments regarding the prospect of establishing relations with the United States on the latter’s most recent trip to address the UN General Assembly, stating that any such decision is strictly the prerogative of Iran’s Supreme Leader. In an interview with Mashreq, reprinted by Etemaad Velayati also called Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney’s performance in the debates “clumsy” arguing that President Obama seems “further ahead” in his approach to Iran.
The story itself seems to be a leak attempting to embarrass Velayati, possibly ‘payback’ for his forceful rebuttal of the president, by individuals close to Ahmadinejad. The rumour was also picked up by opposition website Kaleme and similarly used to decry the disparity between the Conservative establishment’s public statements and private activities. On the whole, both analysts and media outlets have come to the conclusion that the rumour and particularly many of the details do not make much sense and seem inconsistent with the Islamic Republic’s standard diplomatic modus operandi.
Amid rumours originating on the opposition website affiliated with Mir Hossein Mousavi Kaleme, about Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s trusted advisor Ali Akbar Velayati’s secret visit to the United States with Hossein Taeb, former head of the Basij militia and incumbent chief of the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Bureau, Baztab-e emruz, close to former IRGC commander and presidential hopeful Mohsen Rezaei, comments:
“In the language of diplomacy dialogue and negotiations are different and [dialogue] is counted as an introduction for [negotiations]. The most optimistic view of that rumour [i.e. that Velayati visited the U.S. to pursue negotiations] is that Velayati wasn’t there, someone else was, it wasn’t in America, but somewhere else, Taeb wasn’t there at all, nor were there negotiations, there was dialogue and it didn’t result in agreement”.
Ali Akbar Javanfekr, President Ahmadinejad’s press advisor, Managing Director of the Islamic Republic News Agency and director of the Iran Media-Cultural Institute has been jailed for 6 months on charges which include “insulting the leader”. Javanfekr’s sentence was issued in November 2011, as a result of an interview he conducted with the Reformist daily Etemaad in which he strongly criticized Ahmadinejad’s Principalist critics, as well as a supplement in Iran Newspaper deemed insulting to the black veil known as the “chador”. His sentence was subsequently upheld upon appeal. Javanfekr has also been banned from any media-related activities for a period of 3 years.