Conservative Iran MP indicted for criticizing 2009 election arrests

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Conservative and outspoken Iranian MP Ali Motahhari criticized the head of the judiciary for indicting him after he questioned the independence of the judiciary for the harsh sentences that many political activists received for the 2009 election protests.

While the indictment of Motahhari appears to be mostly symbolic at the moment, since MPs have immunity unless they violate the constitution, the judiciary’s actions and statements made by hard-liners in regard to the 2009 protests reveal still deep divide at the upper echelon of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the 2009 contested election and those who are still imprisoned for challenging the results. Continue reading

Khamenei representative rejects calls for Mousavi, Karroubi release

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After President Hassan Rouhani’s spokesman said that the administration was working to release political prisoners, including 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative dismissed the idea, saying that “the people” would not allow their release.

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Minister Denies Rouhani Will Play Role in Mousavi, Karroubi Case

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Contradicting his previous statements, Iran’s Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said that President Hassan Rouhani’s administration would not get involved in the effort to release Mir Hussein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavarad and Mehi Karroubi, who are approaching nearly 1,000 days of house arrest.

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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

What are the Endurance Front’s choices ahead of the presidential election?

Prominent Tehran MP, Ismail Kowsari, has made a number of interesting comments relating to the neoconservative group close to hardline Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, the Endurance Front for the Islamic Revolution, and its relationship with the Ahmadinejad government, as reported by the Reformist daily, Etemaad.

“The Endurance Front have separated from the government and are now counted amongst those excluded from government. In truth, for those who toiled for the government, they expected the government to be the same government of 2005 [i.e., when Ahmadinejad was first elected into office]. In this regard I think it doubtful they will form a coalition with a candidate from the government.”

Kowsari also speculated on the Endurance Front’s possible backing of Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, saying, “it still is not clear whether Saeed Jalili will become a candidate in the election, so we can’t say whether the Endurance Front will support him or not.”

It had previously been speculated that the Endurance Front might back Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, who ran on the front’s list in the last Majles elections. He is both head of the Majles’ minority Principalist faction and a close ally and in-law of the Supreme Leader. But this week the head of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s office, Hojjat al-Islam Jalili, made a number of highly critical statements vis-à-vis Haddad Adel. No doubt due to his formation of a coalition with Principalists, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Ali Akbar Velayati, but also others such as Mostafa Pourmohammadi [a staunch Ahmadinejad government critic], who diverge from the Endurance Front on a number of issues and are generally seen as “moderate” by comparison. The comment which really stuck out was when Jalili forthrightly compared Haddad Adel to “edible and delicious water,” which had entered a “salty brook” and is as a result “useless.”

The chairman of the Endurance Front, Hojjat al-Islam Morteza Aqa-Tehrani, has also seemed to back off from previous comments that the Endurance Front would consider a coalition with Ahmadinejad’s favored candidate, stating, “what I said is clear, I said the engagement between the Majles and government is something on which [Ayatollah Khamenei] has spoken and he is still saying the same.” Aqa-Tehrani then named [Saeed] Jalili, [Parviz] Fattah and [Kamran Baqeri] Lankarani as prospective candidates the Endurance Front might put forward for the presidential contest.

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Basij Commander: Syrian Free Army Is “Psychological Operations”

Deputy for Basij Affairs and Defensive Culture, Commander Masoud Jazayeri, has commented on foreign forces in Syria. According to the Reformist daily Etemaad, stating that “with the existence of the terrorist actions of the enemies of Syria, the conditions in this country are contrary to what is put forward in the media. It is not only not grave, but normal life in the majority of areas of Syria carries on. The government and people in this time of crisis…The reactionaries of the region and the Zionists, capitalizing on political diplomacy and media diplomacy pretend that Bashar al-Assad’s government is over and the different groups and the Free Army [i.e. Free Syria Army] will soon be ruling, when it must be said explicitly that in fact something by the name of the Free Army does not exist in the way that the enemies state; this army is more the creation of psychological operations”. Jazayeri added, “in case Europe imagines that by supporting some groups and terrorist organizations it will be able to obtain its political objectives, it has inflicted a great blow to itself because without doubt this cultivated and engendered terrorism, one day will bring a calamity about for Europe and America”.

In other news

In reaction to the alleged opening of an official Facebook account in the name of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the 13th of December, Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi, the Secretary of the Supreme Council for Cyberspace in Iran, has said that membership in Facebook is not a “crime”, but rather “circumventing the filtering system for access to these networks is considered a crime”. However, Akhavan Behabadi insists that he has not seen a statement from the office of the Supreme Leader confirming that the account belongs to the latter, nor has the government taken any decision to stop filtering Facebook.

Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Mousavi Nejad, the MP for Bushehr has criticized the “negative influence” of Russian women employees at the Bushehr nuclear power plant and has stated that a report will be given to the Majles’ Cultural Commission in this regard. Mousavi Nejad claimed that Russian employees receive a fee for abiding by the Islamic dress code, but that the “principles and standards” [of the latter] were not being properly complied with. Mousavi Nejad even went as far as to call the Russian female employees of Bushehr “corrupting”.

Since Mousavi Nejad’s statement, Deputy Foreign Minister, Hassan Ghashghavi, has rejected the claim that Russian female employees receive a fee for donning the hejab and said it has “absolutely no truth”.

The failure to change the charter of the Social Security Fund and transform it formally into an “organization”, under government purview, as opposed to a body, under the supervision of the Majles, has placed the controversial former judge and Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, in the firing line once again. After the Majles Speaker announced the failure of the government’s plans eight MPs immediately pointed out to the Minister of Labour, that they want the removal of Mortazavi from his current post.

Maverick Principalist MP, Ali Motahhari, has called Mortazavi’s appointment “criminal” if it continues and said that he will decide to pursue the Minister’s impeachment if he does not appoint someone else in Mortazavi’s stead. Motahhari added, “we aren’t bothered with whether the Minister is insignificant and in reality is [acting] under the order of Mr. Ahmadinejad. We say that the removal of Mortazavi is the obligation of the Minister and if he doesn’t have the power for such an act, he must be dismissed”.

Motahhari stated that as a “suspended judge” Mortazavi cannot be legally appointed to a governmental post, and this is not even addressing the numerous allegations which have been made against him following the post-2009 unrest, when he was held responsible for the death of several young Iranians held in Kahrizak detention centre, while Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor.

 

Khamenei Warning Temporarily Halts Ahmadinejad’s Critics

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a meeting this morning with members of Iran’s Basij paramilitary force remarked on a number of important issues relating to his previous calls for unity and cooperation among the various branches of government that have been at odds in recent weeks. Of particular note was the fiery exchange of letters between President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani over the former’s desire to visit Evin prison. In the aftermath of that exchange, Khamenei stepped in and in unprecedented fashion said that those who aired their differences publicly before the presidential election scheduled for June 2013 were perpetrating “treason.” In the aftermath of this speech, the three heads of the respective branches, Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Majles, Sadeq Larijani and Ahmadinejad wrote to the Supreme Leader stating that they would abide by his order.

Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad’s critics in the Majles had petitioned for his being summoned to answer questions in the aftermath of the collapse of the Iranian currency, the rial. The requisite number of signatures were gathered and it seemed that imminently the president would become the first Iranian president to be summoned to answer questions before the Majles for the second time in a single term. As the date of the president’s appearance was to be scheduled in the coming week, Khamenei has stepped in and expressed his opposition to the proposal, again stressing it to be contrary to unity in the face of unparalleled Western pressure against the Islamic Republic.

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