President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s comments at Iran’s Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day rallies have caused considerable controversy within both domestic Iranian and international media. International Quds Day was initiated by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1979 after the Iranian revolution. It is a government-sponsored event that falls on the last Friday of Ramadan and is meant to signify solidarity with the Palestinian people.
A group of parliament members have signed a letter of protest after police officials had reportedly forced a suspect to wear women’s clothing in public. According to Digarban, this event took place on April 13. According to Nasim online, which originally reported the story, the event took place in the city of Marivan, in Iran’s Kurdish region near the Iran-Iraq border.
The parliament members had “sought to notify the interior and justice ministers” of the event. Security officers had reportedly forced a “famous street thug” to wear women’s clothing and then paraded him in public. The parliament members who signed the letter, including the representative from Marivan, wrote that “this action is against Islamic values and it degrades the clothing and character of Muslim women.”
Majles Speaker Ali Larijani met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and representatives of Palestinian groups residing in Damascus.
During his speech at the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital, Larijani made a number of critical comments, alleging “some countries in the region that don’t enjoy democracy themselves cannot create political reforms and democracy in Syria.”
Also striking a negative note vis-à-vis the prospect of negotiations with the Western powers, he said, “America and the West won’t give anything to anyone in negotiations … All the plans till today which have been suggested by America and the West regarding Palestine have been defeated.”
“With the presence of Hezbollah, many successes have been obtained and if the spirit of resistance and struggle was not in Palestine the victories won up to now would not have been obtained … in the last three decades the state of the Americans and Zionists has been facing decline, the example of which we witnessed in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
On the Gaza conflict, Larijani was equally forthright, stating that Israel has been damaged both politically and in terms of its security as a result: “What is growing in the region is resistance … because Syria performs a fundamental role in the resistance, America accompanied by some Western countries and the Zionist regime are trying to fabricate problems and create of insecurity.”
Larijani met with Ahmed Jibril, the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who alongside Larijani claimed, “The honourable position of Iran with respect to Palestine is a reason for pride amongst all the resistance groups.”
Referencing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s infamous comment dubbing Israel a “cancerous tumour,” Jibril added, “the Islamic Republic from the outset till now has not changed this Islamically lawful position and it adheres to the words of Imam Khomeini …The nation of Palestine has crossed difficult circumstances and we clearly announce that Palestine is in pursuit of the destruction of Israel.”
Larijani also and more importantly met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It has been reported that Assad thanked Larijani for Iran’s help and efforts in support of Syria and stated that his regime “in addition to combating terrorism will take steps on the path toward the successful advancement of national dialogue.”
Assad also reportedly thanked Iran for organizing a conference in Tehran with the “Syrian opposition,” to promote national dialogue.
In reply to a journalist’s question at the end of Assad and Larijani’s meeting, Assad stated “there is perpetual contact between us and the Iranian authorities [and] in all respects.”
Larijani also stated, “When some regional countries don’t even send a single shell for the Palestinians [and] are scared, the government and nation of Syria has put all its resources in the control of the nation of Palestine and this has resulted in some of the powers of the region sending armed groups to Syria.”
Ala’oddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Majles’ National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, has told Fars News, close to the Revolutionary Guards, that “the defeat of the Zionist regime in the 9-day war with the resistance is the fourth defeat of this regime by the resistance …The first defeat of the usurping Zionist regime was in 2000 with the liberation of the occupied territory of southern Lebanon by Hezbollah; the second time was in the 33-day war with Hezbollah and the third when it faced defeat in the 22-day war with Gaza. This time for the fourth time after nine days of war they were again defeated by the warriors of Hamas and the resistance …The duration until the Zionist regime’s defeat in the face of the resistance warriors of Gaza has decreased to 9 days, which means the beginning of the destruction of the Zionist regime as an illegitimate, usurping regime in Palestine.”
Boroujerdi concluded by saying, “The Hamas authorities have clearly stated that the resistance without the financial and military aid of Iran could not attain victory, which is also a source of pride for the regime of the Islamic Republic and the Revolution.”
Image of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Majles Speaker Ali Larijani in Damascus via Fars News
Serat News, close to the hardline Kayhan institute has published an article entitled “Mr. Meshaal, Mr. Haniyeh, where is Qatar? Where is Turkey?” The article offers a brief ‘history’ of the Arab-Israeli conflict and then goes on to call Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 the “turning point in the transformations of Palestine” because “the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran created a renewed motivation in the Palestinian movements for combating the Zionist regime.”
“One of these groups was the Hamas movement, whose original objective and motivation in the formation of this group was the establishment of the goals of the Islamic Revolution in Palestine.”
However, “a review of the dualistic positions of the leaders of this group in recent months is devoid of kindness. One of these leaders is Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau. He, who has enjoyed the unflinching support of the Islamic Republic in all areas, in relation to the Syria Crisis adopted a different and astonishing position. He supported regime change in Syria when he was the guest of the government of the Assad family for many years. When no country in the West supported this group, Bashar Assad in the capacity of steadfast patron backed him. Recently Meshaal, at the ceremony of the Justice and Development Party of Turkey, addressed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the leader of the Islamic world and stated his support for the biggest enemy of Bashar al-Assad.”
The head of the Majles Commission for National Security and Foreign Policy, Ala’oddin Boroujerdi, has made a number of noteworthy comments in conservation with Khaneh-ye Mellat, the Majles’ news agency, regarding US President Barack Obama and the possibility of negotiations with the United States, saying “if these verbal statements aren’t political, it shows the realistic approach of Washington in the new term of Obama’s presidency.”
Boroujerdi added: “Iran is a country with mastery of nuclear knowledge and has operated persistently in the peaceful framework and seriously disagrees with any kind of tendency to the side of a nuclear bomb.”
Boroujerdi also once against emphasized the importance of sanctions relief, “the official recognition of the right of Iran for the use of peaceful nuclear energy by America can be the important starting point for solving the nuclear problem of several years and following that, in future negotiations the P5+1 must take serious steps for the removal of sanctions.”
Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of the Expedience Discernment Council, has claimed that Obama’s “silence” regarding Israel’s recent military engagement in the Gaza strip is the outcome of an “[pre]electoral agreement” with Israel.
Majles Commission blames government and Central Bank over drug shortages
Hossein Ali Shahriari, the head of the Commission for Health and Medicine has criticized the government over the fact that despite the increase in its budget after subsidies reform, the health and medicine budget with the existence of high levels of inflation has decreased by 6%. Shahriari also plainly stated that “the Central Bank in recent months has not allocated any currency for the health part [of the budget].”
Shahriari added: “We are always witness to the increase in the construction budget for different parts of the country, but the government has paid no attention to the domain of health and medicine.”
Shahriari emphasized that in the last six months the Central Bank has allocated “virtually no currency” for the health and medicine budget and the import of medicines, saying “the mismanagement of the Central Bank was the primary factor of the problems for the allocation of currency.”
As an example of the considerable increase in the prices of several treatments in his public report to the Majles he stated that the price of syringe angiographies have increased by 245%, radiological film has increased in price by 249%, electroshock therapy by 289%, helium gas by 667%, and dialysis sets by 352%.
Addressing President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Shahriari commented, “from the 6,000 billion tomans in the targeted subsidies reform law which should have been designated to the health [budget], no amount has been fulfilled … Unfortunately the government only proclaims slogans and must apportion credit for these slogans and the government has shirked [its duties]. Certainly individuals who need cancer drugs and [it is] imperative, today do not have appropriate access to these drugs.”
Petraeus and the perils of Gmail
Fars News has attempted to use David Petraeus’ resignation over having an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell to claim Google’s Gmail service is “not safe.” The article claims that anonymity cannot be guaranteed, even under a pseudonym, and that past e-mails and chats even if deleted will be kept on a separate server and will still be able to be accessed. The article also claims that the access of the American government to the accounts of Google users is expanding. It also cites Petraeus’ and Broadwell’s use of Gmail’s draft function to message one another, without actually e-mailing one another and this too, says the article, has ultimately proven insecure as well.
Mashaei for president?
According to the Revolutionary Guard-affiliated Bashgah-e Khabarnegaran-e Javan, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s office has once again rejected rumors that the president’s controversial chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, will run for president in April 2013.
This rejection has been released amidst rumors that Mashaei in a meeting with Mazandaranis (Iranians from the northern province of Mazandaran where Mashaei happens to be from) living in Tehran, said that he will enter the race and that “no one can prevent my candidacy.” He is also alleged to have said: “I am ready for martyrdom.” Asr-e Iran, which published the story also quote Mashaei as saying, “We have been constantly active for seven years and we won’t give the eleventh government that easily to [Mohammad Baqir] Qalibaf [that is, the mayor of Tehran].”