Khamenei: Even Those Who Don’t Believe in Islamic System Should Vote

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In a speech today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed the importance of voting. A high voter turnout is something he and other top leaders of the Islamic Republic have pushed for in the last few weeks before the June 14 election. There are approximately 50 million eligible voters, and despite claims by various Iranian media that voter turnout will be far above 50%, it has been difficult to independently verify.

Khamenei said, “My first recommendation is for an enthusiastic presence at the ballot box. It’s possible that an individual for some reason may not want to support the Islamic system, but he wants to support his country. Everyone must come out and vote.” Interestingly, on June 4, Khamenei used the opposite argument to urge people to vote. “Each vote you give to any of these eight candidates … is a vote you’ve given for the Islamic Republic,” he said. “A vote for any candidate is a vote for the Islamic Republic. It’s a vote of confidence in the system and the mechanisms of the election.”

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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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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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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

Journalist Who Identified Rafsanjani in ‘Chain Murders’ Sees Opportunity in Candidacy

Former Iranian president and head of Ira

Famous dissident and journalist Akbar Ganji, who wrote a series of stories about the murder and disappearance of Iranian intellectuals and dissidents from 1988 to 1998 in which he revealed the involvement of top government officials and clerics including Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has written a new op-ed about the opportunity he sees in Rafsanjani’s candidacy for the presidency.

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Newspaper Close to Khamenei Denies Last-Minute Call From Supreme Leader to Rafsanjani

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In an interview with Shargh newspaper yesterday, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s eldest daughter recounted the final minutes in which Rafsanjani decided to head to the Interior Ministry building to register his name for the Iranian presidential elections.

Fatemeh Hashemi said that Rafsanjani and his children and grandchildren had gathered at his office since that Saturday morning, the final day of registration. They had discussed the pros and cons of his entering the elections until late afternoon, at which point Fatemeh became “certain that he had made up his mind and was not going to register.”

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Ahmadinejad Attendance With Mashaei Called a “Violation”

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A spokesperson for the Guardian Council told reporters yesterday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence at Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei’s registration for the presidential race at the Interior Ministry building was a “violation.” Saturday was the final day for candidates to register their names. In a dramatic fashion, both Mashaei and Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani registered in the final minutes, accompanied by an entourage of supporters.

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Rafsanjani Says He Won’t Run Without Khamenei’s Consent

untitled Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has once again issued statements about the potential of his candidacy for the Iranian presidency. Registration for candidates begins tomorrow and ends Saturday, May 11, at the Interior Ministry building. On his potential candidacy, Rafsanjani said to a group of Tehran University students, “I am currently assessing if it’s even needed for me to run.” He continued, “If I conclude that I should run, I need to speak to the leader [Khamenei] about the matter, because without his consent I will not run, and without his agreement, the result of my running for the elections will be the opposite [of what is desired].” In contrast to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Rafsanjani has expressed more concern about Iran’s current direction, going so far as saying recently that “if I feel that I can save the country, I will run.” He and Khamenei had long been considered two of Iran’s most powerful figures, but after the 2009 elections, Rafsanjani’s power and influence had decreased considerably. It is commonly known that both figures, and particularly their children, are at odds politically. Rafsanjani continued that “if a situation comes about that there are disputes between me and Khamenei, it will be to everyone’s detriment.” He added, “Our condition is bad, but it shouldn’t result in our despair. Rather, it should cause us to raise our consciousness.” untitled On Saturday, Khamenei’s older brother, Ayatollah Mohammad Khamenei, criticized Rafsanjani’s position in the 2009 elections and the current presidential race. He said, “The enemies of the Islamic Republic put all their support behind the 2009 elections, and Mir Hussein Mousavi was picked by Rafsanjani and other opposition groups to pursue their own goals.” Mousavi ran as the Reformist candidate in the 2009 elections. He and his wife have been under house arrest for over two years without charge for contesting the results of those elections. Mohammad Khamenei, head of the Sadra Islamic Foundation, warned, “There is a new scenario by the experts and designers from American think tanks and their domestic advisers, who were the leaders of the 2009 sedition. In the new scenario, they’ve tried to present an individual who is likely to run and receive votes and be close to their intellectual perspective. What can be witnessed is that presumably, Rafsanjani is the best person for this plan and it makes no difference if he is aware of the depth of this conspiracy or not.” Mohammad Khatami, another potential presidential candidate, recently expressed his views on the presidential elections and the state of the country. He described Iran as being in “a suffocating security environment.” He added that “trust between the people and the government is gone. From the lower economic classes to the employers and the elite and especially the middle class and the young, they’ve lost their hope and trust, and this needs to be revived.” Khatami added that there must be “an understanding at the upper levels” of government. “Without Khamenei wanting it and without cooperating with him, these problems will not be solved. Someone needs to run for the elections who has this approach and understands the power of cooperation.”

Rafsanjani Says Iran ‘Not at War With Israel’

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Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani spoke to reporters yesterday at the Expediency Council building. The Expediency Council is an advisory body which he heads. Rafsanjani spoke about Iran’s foreign policy and relation to Israel, his predictions about Iran’s current crisis and his potential candidacy.

Rafsanjani said Iran needs to “repair its foreign policy.” He added, “We are not at war with Israel,” though he elaborated “if the Arab countries are at war with them, we’ll help them.” Iranian authorities have said they would accept agreements the Palestinians make with Israel but have also said that they would support any group that fights them.

The hard-line Raja News website responded harshly to Rafsanjani’s statements on Israel. They wrote, somewhat sarcastically, that “it doesn’t appear that Hashemi, who accompanied and wrote the historiography of Ayatollah Khomeini, has forgotten his (Khomeini’s) approach towards the fake Israeli regime, as Khomeini said toward his regime ‘Israel must be erased from the scene.’” In fact, the title of the article compares the two statements by presenting Khomeini’s comments on top, with Rafsanjani’s on bottom.

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Raja also added: “Yet, maybe these statements from Hashemi are not that unexpected due to this support of those who chanted ‘neither Gaza nor Lebanon’ during the 2009 sedition.” The chant “neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life for Iran” became popular during the 2009 postelection protests. It is criticism aimed at the Iranian government’s support and attention toward Hezbollah and Hamas in favor of Iranian domestic issues.

Rafsanjani also highlighted his approach to foreign policy when he had considerably more influence in the first decade of the revolution. “During the war it was my recommendation to accept the resolution to end the war,” he said. It’s believed that it was Rafsanjani who persuaded Ayatollah Khomeini to accept the UN cease-fire with Iraq which ended one of the deadliest wars of the 20th century.

Although he was the parliament speaker during the war years he was a close confidant and adviser to Khomeini. Some hard-liners in Iran have criticized Rafsanjani for his advice to Khomeini to end the war.

Rafsanjani appeared to be answering his critics when he said that “if the resolution wasn’t signed Tabriz, Tehran, and Esfahan (three of Iran’s largest cities) would have been attacked with chemical weapons from airplanes borrowed from France and Russia and we would have had many casualties.”

He also highlighted his actions when he was president and Saddam attacked Kuwait. “After Saddam invaded Kuwait some gentlemen said let’s go support Saddam. But we didn’t support Saddam and we even accepted Kuwaiti refugees and the world trusted us and the sanctions were lifted,” he said.

Rafsanjani also said that in 2008 he spoke with a commission that approached him to address his problems with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said he “spoke for 2½ hours where he listed all the problems of yesterday, today and tomorrow.” He claimed that these meetings were taped but he will not reveal them for the sake of “unity.”

As far as the presidential elections, Rafsanjani said: “There is no need for me to run. Of course I’m not saying I’m not running. But I’m saying it’s not necessary for an 80 year old man to run.”

Rafsanjani Denies Controversial Remarks About Khamenei, Revolutionary Guard

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On April 16, Saham News, a website close to Mehdi Karroubi, published an article which quoted an anonymous source who was present at a meeting between the head of the Expediency Council, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and provincial governors during Rafsanjani’s and Mohammad Khatami’s presidencies. The following day, the public-relations department of the Expediency Council denied the reports attributed to Rafsanjani.

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