A team from the United Nations announced today that it will head to an Iraqi camp of Iranian exiles to investigate the deaths of dozens of its residents. The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) said on Sunday that Iraqi forces had killed 52 of their members in a raid at Camp Ashraf, the group’s longtime base in Diyala, Iraq. The Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which is how they are known in Iran, was a leftist-Islamist group which left Iran after the 1979 revolution over a power struggle with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Continue reading
Conservative website Baztab Emrooz has published an op-ed by Foad Sadeghi asking Iran’s two previous presidents, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, to help Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “save” Iran by participating in the upcoming elections.
The article shares that based on the speeches of Ayatollah Khamenei, “the fundamental issue of the elites of the country, in the 40 days remaining until the process of the elections officially starts, is to present solutions to pass through the critical conditions and unprecedented threats” facing Iran.
The article listed eight issues that Iran is facing, with the first one being “the American and Israeli position against Iran’s nuclear program, which has turned into an international issue that has been taken up the Security Council.” Other issues were the “acceptance” of the “events of the 2009 elections” and addressing “the undeniable, tangible effects of the economic sanctions.” Continue reading
Iranian websites have given the passing of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez extensive coverage. Chavez died yesterday at the age of 58 from cancer. Mehr News Agency ran a list of the world leaders to offer their condolences. Fars News Agency highlighted Vice President Nicolas Maduro’s claim that “enemies had infected” Chavez with cancer. Mashreg News showed pictures of Venezuelans mourning the loss of their leader, as well as pictures of Chavez from his youth to the army to his sick bed, along with Chavez next to Ahmadinejad.
One particular theme all the websites stressed was the continuation of “stability” with the absence of Chavez. In a piece titled “Political Stability, Chavez’s Legacy,” the Iranian Diplomacy site conducted an interview with former ambassador to Brazil Seyyed Jaffar Hashemi, who emphasized that “because of their positive experience under Chavez the people of Venezuela will continue his path.”
In his letter of condolences to Vice President Maduro, President Ahmadinejad wrote that “the world has fallen into mourning.” He described Chavez as a “pure, kind and brave” man who with “love for the people” who “would work endlessly to serve his people, especially those most deprived and wounded from colonialism and arrogance.”
The president ended his letter by saying that he had no doubt that Chavez “would return along with all the other righteous and the Prophet Jesus […] to help lead society to complete peace and justice.”
In Other News
Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani was re-elected to lead the Assembly of Experts while a key Khamenei ally was elected to be first deputy yesterday. The Assembly of Experts is a body of Shiite clerics whose role is to supervise and select or remove the Supreme Leader of Iran.
Mahdavi Kani replaced Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as Chairman of the Assembly of Experts March of 2011. Many experts viewed the replacement as an attempt by Ayatollah Khamenei to weaken Rafsanjani’s power by promoting an ally to the position.
Out of the 70 votes cast, Mahdavi Kani received 64. He will serve another two-year term. In his speech, Mahdavi Kani stressed the important role of clerics in Iran. He said, “we must not forget that we wear the robes of clerics […] and we have a heavy burden to protect the system and the revolution.” Mahdavi Kani also recommended that those who know they will not be approved by the Gaurdian Council for the presidential elections should not announce their candidacy in the first place.
One surprise from the meeting of the Assembly of Experts was the election of Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to the post of First Deputy of the Assembly. He replaced Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammad Yazdi. Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani held the deputy director position before his election to the chairmanship.
Ayatollah Shahroudi is considered a key clerical ally to Khamenei. He also holds the position of chairman of the Arbitrative Body, which is technically supposed to solve problems and differences between the three branches of government. The Western press has speculated the Islamic Republic of Iran has been spending considerable money and political clout to promote Shahroudi as the top spiritual leader for Shias of Iraq to replace Ayatollah Ali Sistani, should he pass away. Shahroudi is Iraqi born and has considerable connections in religious circles in Iraq, though the possibility of him replacing Sistani are still remote.
Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, the spokesman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, has claimed “the Americans don’t want calm to be established in Iraq, because [if there is calm] relations between Iran and Iraq will be strengthened.”
He continued: “The Americans through their investment in terrorist groups and equipping of these individuals with the latest weaponry, have the intention of creating insecurity in Iraq, so that Iranian pilgrims cannot enter Iraqi soil on the brink of Arabaein [the Shi’i ceremony which is commemorated 40 days after the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hossein] … In line with the government of Saudi Arabia in secret activities with covert and widespread financial support for Baathist elements, they have the objective of targeting the Shia, and evacuating Iraq’s towns completely of the existence of Shias.”
Friday Prayer leader, Hojjat al-Islam Mohammad Emami Kashani, has said
in his Friday prayer sermon that “the future president must reply “yes, I accept” to the call of the Leader and move in this path”.
Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Chief of the Inspectorate Organization, on Wednesday evening while amongst a group of clerical students in Qom, claimed that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad, disagreed over his being sacked as Minister of Interior in the course of the latter’s first term back in 2008.
Pourmohammadi claimed that Ahmadinejad on two occasions tried to sack him, but met with the overt disagreement of the Supreme Leader. The third time that Ahmadinejad sought to fire Pourmohammadi, without first consulting the Supreme Leader, the president simply issued his removal.
The Reformist daily, Etemaad carries the highlights from yesterday’s controversial press conference with President Ahmadinejad:
“If our presence is very difficult for you, I write one line, and good bye”.
With these comments the president effectively threatened his resignation.
“The position of the Minister of Islamic Guidance regarding Sharq (newspaper) was wrong; it shouldn’t have been closed.”
The Reformist daily Sharq was shut down after featuring a caricature deemed insulting to veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. Ahmadinejad’s own Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Hosseini, was amongst the most vociferous demanding the newspaper’s closure.
“22 people are the head of a ring [responsible for] the recent disturbances in the currency market”.
This comment should be seen in the context of the government’s repeated claims that a small, but powerful cabal are manipulating the currency market for financial gain.
The head of the Inspectorate Organization for the Country has said that he will investigate the matter, but said he was “saddened” by the President’s comments, and added, that “if this is so, the Intelligence apparatus will go into action, and confront this team [of 22 people]”.
The hardline Kayhan newspaper reports on the death of the American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens:
“The people of Libya, Egypt and Yemen in response to the insult of an American filmmaker to the honorable Prophet have attacked the American embassy. The angry people, with the killing of the ambassador and three armed Americans, have punished Washington. … Available reports state that this attack was undertaken by the Islamist group “Ansar al-Shariah” in protest of the screening of an insulting film to the honorable Prophet in American cinemas, and the assailants attacked the American consulate building in Benghazi using light arms and RPGs.”
Attacks in Libya, Egypt and Yemen are said to be a response to the screening of the film entitled, “Innocence of Muslims,” by amateur filmmaker Sam Bacile.