Khamenei website says 2009 protests ‘unforgivable’

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The personal website of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a poster suggesting a court case that rules the 2009 protests “unforgivable.”

The poster, whose slogan of “unforgivable” was recently repeated by Iran’s police chief, will have significant ramifications for President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, which according to administration officials has been working behind the scenes for the release of 2009 presidential candidates from house arrest. Continue reading

‘Argo’ A Sign of America’s ‘Political Desperation,’ Says Iran Presidential Candidate

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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

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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.

High ranking Reformists have first meeting with Supreme Leader since 2009

The Reformist daily Etemaad has reported that three well-known Reformist politicians have met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The politicians were former MP and vice president for Legal affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Hojjat al-Islam Majid Ansari, Hojjat al-Islam Abdol Vahed Mousavi Lari, a former Interior Minister and Eshaq Jahangiri, a former Minister of the Industry. It has also been speculated that Jahangiri could be a potential presidential candidate put forward by the Reformists.

According to Etemaad the last official meeting between members of the Reformist camp and the Supreme Leader was 16 June 2009 when representatives of the presidential candidates attended a meeting in order to convey the latter’s views on key issues. Moreover, it is claimed that since that day there have been no reports of meetings between the Supreme Leader and the Reformists.

Ansari, who is also a member of the Reformist Assembly of Combatant Clergy, described the meeting as “very good” and added that a number of the major issues facing the country were discussed. Details however, were not forthcoming. But apparently the upcoming presidential election was not addressed in the course of the meeting.

The meeting is significant insofar as since Iran’s controversial 2009 presidential election which saw the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a considerable swathe of Reformist politicians have been jailed and pushed to the side lines of Iranian political life. Two of the major Reformist political organizations, the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Iran Participation Front, were also dissolved.

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Jailed Former Deputy Minister Claims Khamenei’s Support for Assad has Provoked Shia-Sunni Conflict

Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy minister of the interior and one of Iran’s leading Reformist figures, currently imprisoned in Evin jail, has written a highly critical letter addressed to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stating, “the result of your support for [Bashar] Assad is a war between Shia and Sunni.”

Tajzadeh stated that Khamenei’s “absolute defense” of the Syrian president was his biggest mistake of the last two years, adding that continuing such a policy will result in the expansion of the war to Lebanon and Iraq.

Tajzadeh also stressed that the confrontation in Syria is not merely one of the United States and West against Russia and China, but has been transformed into an “arena of struggles” between Salafi forces and non-Salafis, Shia Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese.

Tajzadeh, who has written a number of critical letters to Iran’s leader since his arrest following Iran’s 2009 presidential election, added that following the Arab Spring it is clear that the people of the region have rejected the Iranian model for emulation. He further argued that the Arab world’s rejection of the Iranian model is due to the “absolute power of a person over 70 percent of the powers” of the state, claiming that “such a regime is similar to authoritarian regimes like that of the Pahlavis, Mubarak, Qaddafi and Assad.”

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Khamenei’s representative in Revolutionary Guards: the “rational and logical engineering of the election” is the Guards’ duty

Hojjat al-Islam Ali Saeidi, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guards in an interview with the Iranian Students’ News Agency on Tuesday, 8th January 2013, has stated that it is the “rational and logical engineering of the election” is the duty of the Revolutionary Guards, and has asked Principalists to put their differences aside in the future election.

Saeidi continued, “the Revolutionary Guards only explain the framework and criteria, which is not interference in the election, but the rational and logical engineering of the election it is our essential duty”.

Saeidi also rejected the calls for “national unity” which have been advocated by individuals such as former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and in contrast to some Principalist politicians such as Ali Motahhari and Habibollah Asgarowladi, and said he regarded former regime insiders turned opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, as “seditionist”.

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Former Reformist Interior Minister: We will try to free Karroubi, Mousavi and Rahnavard

Former Interior Minister and high-ranking Reformist politician, Abdollah Nouri, in the course of a meeting with members of the Central Council of the Islamic Society of the University of Tehran and Medical Sciences of Tehran, stated that “we will try to free Mrs. [Mehdi] Karroubi, [Mir Hossein] Mousavi and Mrs. [Zahra] Rahnavard and [the other] political prisoners”.

With respect to the prospect of changing the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, Nouri, who is a former member of the Council for the Re-examination of the Constitution said, “the constitution is not a sacred book and was written by the same individuals with the same qualifications, personalities and society and despite germane criticisms it for the prevention of disorder and chaos and the pivot for the movement of all [political] currents in pursuit of comprehensive reform and [who] form a critical front. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic was re-examined at one time and it was also predicted in [the document] that it is reformable. Of course it is not predictable at what time and in what conditions the decision to re-examine the constitution again will be taken. Necessarily, it is deserving of reflection and attention [whether] the civil institutions and defenders of the rights of the nation will have a bigger role and influence or the reverse. It will become clear with time”.

Hossein Shariatmadari, who is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative at the Kayhan institute and editor of Kayhan newspaper, has written a critical op-ed of both the Reformist and the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad government.

In the article Shariatimadari rebuts Reformist politicians’ statements to the effect, that Ahmadinejad’s turbulent relationship with the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards, not to mention alleged “economic mismanagement”, confirms their early criticisms of Ahmadinejad. Needless to say, Shariatmadari rejects the Reformist’s conclusion i.e. that Ahmadinejad was always trouble, and defends Ahmadinejad’s disputed landslide electoral victory in June 2009. Shariatmadari is also sure to praise Ahmadinejad’s frontal assault on the “private interests” of the Executives of Reconstruction close to former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (though he does not mention Rafsanjani by name) and the Reformist political elite.

Shariatmadari is also keen to praise Ahmadinejad for “throwing the myth of the Holocaust to the wind”.

Both Ayatollah Khamenei and Shariatmadari himself find themselves in a bind, since they confirmed and defended Ahmadinejad after the unparalleled post-election unrest which witnessed up to 3 million people demonstrate through Tehran’s streets in protest of alleged vote rigging. They had not foreseen that their relationship with Ahmadinejad would also come under strain, as the president sought to consolidate and aggrandise his position and that of his close-knit circle of allies, in the political establishment of the Islamic Republic.

Shariatmadari states that a “deviant circle” has appeared in the midst of the Ahmadinejad government, which has strayed from “some Islamic and revolutionary and popular teachings”. He goes on, “if only Mr. Ahmadinejad had kept guard of the vote of the people and the sanctity of the election of the people and according to the enemy, had not broken the pact of friendship. The people voted for Ahmadinejad in 2005 and not to the deviant current. The trust of the people which is a sacred custodianship in his possession, must not fall to the deviant current. Does Mr. Ahmadinejad not see that the closer he gets to the deviant current, by the same amount he distances himself from the people and the authentic line of the revolution?”

President Ahmadinejad’s press advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who is currently serving an ongoing sentence in Evin jail, has been replaced as head of the Islamic Republic News Agency. In accordance with an order by Mohammad Hosseini, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Majid Amidi Sharaki, has been appointed to Javanfekr’s position.

Javanfekr who was previously a special correspondent for IRNA, based in the Supreme Leader’s office, returned to Evin jail, after a stint in hospital and during that time was visited by President Ahmadinejad.

This comes after Ahmadinejad was not permitted to visit Evin prison by the Judiciary in October 2012, which led to a fiery exchange between the president and judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani.

Javanfekr’s position as government representative to the supervisory council of Seda va Sima, the Islamic Republic state broadcasting service, was also given to government spokesman, Gholamhossein Elham.

Gholamreza Kateb, the Spokesman for the Majles Budgetary and Planning Commission, quoting the Minister of Oil, Rostam Qassemi, has said that the sale of oil has decreased by 40% and gas revenues have decreased by 45%, compared with the same time last year.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Ali Akbar Javanfekr in hospital before the latter returns to Evin prison via Fars News

MP says Ahmadinejad’s firing of Minister reminds him of behaviour of Shah Reza Pahlavi

Javan, close the Revolutionary Guards, carries the comments of Deputy Majles Speaker, Mohammadreza Bahonar, who has speculated that another vote of confidence might be required for the approval of President Ahmadinejad’s Cabinet, given the numerous personnel changes which have taken place in recent months: “one of our old issues with the 9th and 10th governments is the bringing, leaving and removing [of Ministers] and of course we do not comprehend the reason for this action either”, said Bahonar, also a persistent Ahmadinejad critic.

The most recent and controversial sacking has been that of Dr. Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi as Minister of Health, a move which has been criticized by a number of MPs.

Hojjat al-Islam Mohammad Baqeri, an MP of the Clerical Faction of the Majles, has been particularly forceful in his remarks, claiming Ahmadinejad’s actions are reminiscent of Shah Reza Pahlavi’s [referred to simply by his pre-coronation name, Reza Khan], the first king of the Pahlavi dynasty and a figure universally despised by the politically active clergy for his secularizing and anti-clerical policies, such as banning the traditional veil and his disdainful treatment of the clerical establishment once he had established a firm grip on power.

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Bahonar declares likelihood of Nateq-Nouri’s candidacy

On the Domestic Front Deputy Speaker, Mohammadreza Bahonar, has claimed it likely that former Majles Speaker and former presidential candidate Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, will run for the presidency in 2013. Bahonar also greeted the prospect of Tehran Mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, running. Nateq-Nouri has long been targeted by President Ahmadinejad and his allies. Most recently, Nateq-Nouri delivered a speech in Mashhad during the month of Ramadan, which was overrun by plainclothes partisans of hardline IRGC ideologue Saeed Qassemi, an act which has been criticized by prominent Conservative establishment figures. Continue reading