Rafsanjani blames Ahmadinejad for ruining Saudi relations in 2008

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In a series of statements in public and on his website, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has attacked former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for ruining relations with Saudi Arabia in 2008 and wasting Iran’s natural resources the last eight years through poor policies. Continue reading

Parliament Deputy Speaker: US-Iran Friendship Not Red Line

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Days after members of Iran’s parliament welcomed a “parliamentary friendship” between the United States and Iran, deputy speaker of parliament and conservative politician Mohammad Reza Bahonar agreed that the formation of such a group is a positive step.

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Khomeini Orders Media to End ‘Death to America’ Chant

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The deputy head of the Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works, Hamid Ansari, said that while then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini opposed the “Death to America” chant for radio and television, he was not opposed to the chant for protests and other occasions.

The Iranian Students’ News Agency interviewed Ansari in response to the latest position of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani in which his personal website published statements by Rafsanjani that said that Khomeini “agreed the “Death to America” chant should be eliminated.” Rafsanjani’s comments were rejected by hard-liners who spoke favorably of the chant, most recently by Tehran Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami who said that the chant gives Iranian diplomats “more power.”

Ansari said that his intention was not to “defend or criticize” Rafsanjani’s comments but that he was just doing his duty as deputy head of the institute for Ayatollah Khomeini. Ansari continued that Rafsanjani’s comments regarding Ayatollah Khomeini’s position on the “Death to America” chant were conducted in a monthly magazine question-and-answer interview about three years ago but his personal website published just a specific segment of it and gave it a headline which would excite public sentiment.

Ansari said that the issue was eliminating “Death to America” and “Death to the Soviet Union” chants, not just the “Death to America” chant. “The elimination was for the media, television and radio and not the political discourse of the people during protests, marches and events,” he explained.

“The memory of Rafsanjani,” Ansari said, “ in which he cited Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] about the topic of eliminating the chant was an agreement and order by Imam to cut this chant from government media.” He added that “it was not an order or recommendation to the people to eliminate this chant.”

Asked why Ayatollah Khomeini’s order to eliminate the chant from the media was never carried out, Ansari said a “detailed analysis is needed for the reasons” and that “this isn’t the topic of our discussion.”

Ansari also confirmed another claim by Rafsanjani that he had written Ayatollah Khomeini a letter in which he stressed that Iran needed to resolve its issues with the United States. Ansari said that the four-page letter, written in March 1987, highlighted four main issues and one of them was Iran’s relationship with the great powers at the time, one of them being America. He said Khomeini gave no written response to the letter.

The “Death to America” chant has become a sort of wedge issue in Iranian media and politics in the last two weeks. Iranian hard-liners have opposed modifying or eliminating this chant, which can be heard most prominently during Friday Tehran prayers, while Reformist and moderate factions have attempted through statements and interviews, present alternatives to his chant or eliminate it altogether.

In an interview with Reformist newspaper Bahar, Tehran University Professor Sadegh Zibakalam said that President Hassan Rouhani’s administration is trying to “at least eliminate this chant from official ceremonies” to prove to the West, with which it’s negotiating the nuclear file, that it has enough power domestically to influence public opinion.

Zibakalam said those opposed to eliminating the “Death to America” chant can be categorized into two groups.

“The first group is opposed to any type of lessening tensions and normalization of relations with America because the lack of relations between these two countries has political and financial benefits,” Zibakalam said. “Therefore, this group will in no way allow this chant to be put to the side and leave it to history.”

The second group, he said, has tied its “identity” to this chant and if this chant is eliminated from the political discourse “there are groups and individuals who will feel a void.”

Iran General Rejects Eliminating ‘Death to America’ Chant

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After Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and the editor of a popular Iranian news website suggested that the “Death to America” chant could cease to be used, Deputy Chief of Mobilization Force and Defense Cultural Affairs of Iran’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said that the chant would “resonate across” the country Nov. 4 during the National Day Against Global Arrogance ceremonies.

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Rouhani Says Nuclear Talks Will Start in New York

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At a meeting of Friday prayer leaders today, President Hassan Rouhani spoke about events in the region, including nuclear negotiations between the West and Iran.

In regard to the nuclear file, Rouhani said, “Maybe in the following weeks the first negotiations about the nuclear case will take place in New York and later be continued with P5+1 [the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany] at a designated location.” He continued, “The administration will put all of its efforts toward working for the nation’s inalienable rights and will try to resolve this issue with reason, logic and wisdom combined with esteem.”

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Two Separate Rafsanjani Comments on Syria Denied, Deleted

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Statements reportedly made by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani blaming “a government” for the chemical weapons attack in Syria have received considerable coverage, both in Iranian and foreign media, forcing Rafsanjani’s personal website to issue a statement on the matter.

According to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s granddaughter at a meeting in North Tehran on Friday, Rafsanjani said, “A government that uses chemical bombs against its people will face hard consequences, just like Saddam, who earned eternal shame in the bombing of Halabja and suffered such a horrible fate.” These comments solely place blame on a government whereas most Iranian officials have either generally condemned chemical weapons use and some have blamed the rebels. Continue reading

Did Rafsanjani Condemn ‘Government’ for Chemical Weapons?

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According to the granddaughter of former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani recently condemned the use of chemical weapons by “a government,” a distinction that other Iranian officials have not made, and reminded those at the meeting of the fate of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

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Can Iran Compromise With US?

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“Is it possible to compromise with America and reach an agreement?” The Iranian hard-line Jahan website asked this question after comments by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani that “Compromise with a peaceful enemy is permissible.” In Iran, “enemy” is typically a reference to the United States, and negotiations or direct talks with America have lately been a prevalent theme in Iranian media, especially in light of the high-profile visits yesterday by the sultan of Oman and the United Nations undersecretary-general for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, who some believe traveled to Tehran to carry messages from Western countries.

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Rafsanjani: I Wanted to Negotiate With the US

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In an interview with the International Studies Journal, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani discussed a variety foreign policy issues regarding Iran’s relationship with the United States and Saudi Arabia, controversial comments he made on Israel and nuclear weapons in 2001 and extremist elements in Iran. Parts of the article have been reprinted by various Reformist publications.

Rafsanjani, who was the speaker of parliament from 1980 to 1989, claims to have written a letter to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini toward the end of his life asking him to address a variety of issues. In the letter, which Rafsanjani claimed to have delivered himself, he warned Khomeini that there are issues “that if you do not cross yourself, after you, crossing them will be very difficult.” Toward the end of Khomeini’s life it is believed that some of his top advisers and family were involved in making key decisions. Rafsanjani, who is now head of the Expediency Council, is considered to have been one of Khomeini’s closest advisers. Continue reading

Faezeh Rafsanjani: Prison Was the Best Time of My Life

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Faezeh Rafsanjani, daughter of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, spoke to Reformist Etemaad newspaper about her political activities and incarceration, some of the customs that have been imposed on women in Iran and her father’s warnings about her outspokenness. A former parliament member and founder of a women’s newspaper which was later banned, Faezeh has been a high-profile activist who served 6 months in prison for her statements and activities during the 2009 election protests.

On her stay in prison, Faezeh said that not only did she not think that she would go to prison but also that “because my verdict was not just, I did not think it would be carried out.” She added that she was never worried about it. On her days in prison, she said, “I liked, and still like those days. It was a strange experience and costly, and I thank God. I still look at it as the best time of my life, and I thank those who offered this opportunity for me. Prison opened another world to me. I think it was my own spirits that turned this threat into an opportunity.” Continue reading