Tehran University professor and outspoken Iranian analyst Sadegh Zibakalam has written an op-ed on the front page of Reformist Bahar newspaper questioning the enmity between Iran and the United States, blaming part of the problem on what is “in the minds” of Iranians.
Saeed Mortazavi, the judge long accused in the deaths of three individuals involved in the 2009 post-election protests, has been sentenced.
Mortazavi, who was prosecutor-general of Tehran in 2009, was charged along with two other deputies in February with “filing a false report” and “unlawful arrest” in connection to the transfer of street protesters to Kahrizak prison.
According to various reports, Mortazavi and two others were suspended for life from judicial duties and banned for five years from government work. Mortazavi received a 200,000 toman fine ($60 based on today’s open market rate). His lawyer said that they will appeal the verdict. The light sentence has shocked many Iranians on social media.
In his speech to members of the judiciary yesterday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed Iran’s elections, the need to help president-elect Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s nuclear file with the West.
In regard to negotiations with the West, Khamenei said, “Several countries have formed an opposition front to Iran and they lie to the international community. Through stubbornness they want to solve the nuclear issue. But if they put aside their stubbornness, solving the nuclear issue is simple and easy.”
Iranian media has given the Boston bombing and the subsequent manhunt extensive coverage. Most media outlets confined themselves to reprinting the photos of the events with straight reporting. Some other sites and Tehran Friday prayer believed there were larger lessons to be gleaned from this event.
In response to the manhunt in Boston for the marathon bombers Fars News Agency ran with the headline, “Will America Now Have to Confront Salafis in Its Own Streets?” Ali Reza Karimi wrote, in a long article covering several decades of US foreign policy, “Jihadi Salafism, which is a type of Salafism, has not only entangled itself with the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq, but that virus that the United States nourished in the region now has inflicted America.” He used the analysis of a Stratfor article about the Boston bombers which said, “The jihadist threat now predominantly stems from grassroots operatives who live in the West rather than teams of highly trained operatives sent to the United States from overseas.” Continue reading
The chairman of the parliamentary Committee of Foreign Policy and National Security, Alaeddin Borujerdi, said in an interview with Iran’s Arab-language station Al Alam that when it comes to the West and the chances of more sanctions through the UN, “for parliament, all options are on the table.” Last weekend Iran and the P5+1 finished another round of negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan with inconclusive results. Borujerdi said, “It is not acceptable for Iran to respect the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], but [it is] for America and the West to ignore Article 6 [regarding nuclear-arms reduction] and Article 4 [Iran’s inalienable nuclear rights]. In this case, there is no reason for Iran to be a member of the NPT, and parliament can review this matter.” Borujerdi added that “we cannot be indifferent to the oppression the Iranian nation is facing; of course, this is a strategic decision that the Supreme National Security Council must adopt, but parliament will use its abilities to defend the rights of the nation.” 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.”
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
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.
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.”
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.”
President Ahmadinejad yesterday wrote a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying “he is sure that [the Supreme Leader] disagrees with the President’s powers being tampered with”. The letter followed those of Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, and Judiciary Chief, Sadeq Larijani, pledging to abide by Khamenei’s order to refrain from publicly airing the differences between the heads of the respective branches of government. Ahmadinejad’s letter has already been depicted as audacious, particularly when compared with the subdued and compliant tone of Ali and Sadeq Larijani’s letters to the Supreme Leader.