An audio file reportedly of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani’s voice has surfaced, in which he says that the people of Syria have been “attacked by chemical weapons by their own government.”
Outspoken conservative Iranian MP Ali Motahari has written a controversial letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in response to the disqualification of Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanani, who is one of the founding members of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was disqualified by the Guardian Council to run for Iran’s presidential elections in June. The decision stunned many and is viewed by some analysts as a sign of Khamenei’s increasing concentration of power.
Fars News covers China’s Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Hong Lei’s comments and criticism of the lastest push by the EU to increase sanctions against Iran.
Fars News, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, claims in its headline that Hong Lei dubbed the sanctions “illegal” on the basis of a Reuters report from earlier today. However nowhere in the Reuters report does the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman call the sanctions “illegal”. He states they pose an obstacle to solving the nuclear stand off, but does not call them “illegal”.
Fars News and a number of other Iranian news sites were caught out last month plagiarising a fake poll from the U.S. based satirical news site, The Onion.
Avaz Heydarpur, MP for Shahrreza, severely criticized President Ahmadinejad on the Majles floor over issuing a circular to a number of executive offices telling them not to cooperate with parliamentarians.
Yesterday Fars News published a scanned copy of confidential instructions to executive authorities across the country in which Ahmadinejad emphasized they resist any any kind of action by MPs to bring pressure for the appointment or deposition of executive managers. Ahmadinejad insists that the power to hire and fire with respect to such offices belongs exclusively to him. Fars News has had a strained relationship with Ahmadinejad of late, with the president going as far as to call it “a media outlet beholden to the security organs” and questioning its reasons for expressing opinions on the country’s political affairs.
The maverick conservative politician, Ali Motahhari, in an interview with Mashreq has made a number of important comments relating to the Iranian political scene as he sees it. First he said he accepts the idea of a “deviant current” in the Iranian political establishment and added that he sees Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff at its helm. Motahhari sees Ahmadinejad as complicit and under the sway of Mashaei. Also of note was his belief that the Ahmadinejad administration has been soft on enforcing mandatory veiling, arguing that it has given the impression that there is a disagreement within the ruling establishment over the policy of mandatory veiling.
On the 2009 post-election unrest, known in official circles as “the sedition”, Motahhari said “I believe we all caused the sedition together. I don’t believe at all in a domestic sedition. I don’t believe in a pre-planned sedition; perhaps a number of actions by both sides created the sedition…It wasn’t like a coherent group were after the regime’s overthrow. On the whole, except for groups like Pezhvak and the Hypocrites [MEK], we don’t have groups pursuing the overthrow [of the regime]…In 2009 the political scene was cloudy and many couldn’t identify which side was right…In any case, I don’t believe in domestic seditionist[s]. The Leader [i.e. Khamenei] also one time said “when we say “leaders of the sedition”, we don’t mean individuals inside [the political establishment]”. I don’t believe someone from the outset came with such an intention. I say perhaps we pushed them in the direction of enmity with the regime…In my opinion, the most dangerous threat creating discord…is that we lose our pure intent and worshipping power takes the place of God.”
Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, has forcefully criticized the government’s economic management, and continues to apportion 80% of the country’s economic woes to government management, and a mere 20% to the effects of sanctions. “80 percent of our economy’s issues and problems relate to management and incidentally the error imagined by Westerners is that because of sanctions they can provoke turbulence in our economy”. Of particular note was his comment that the “Robin Hood-like methods don’t work in economics” [i.e. distributing money/resources to the poor for its own sake], questioning the government’s designation of funds for its flagship low cost housing project, Maskan-e Mehr, stating that instead funds should have been used to in a measured fashion to help subsidize struggling domestic industries. Larijani has long been a stalwart critic of the government, in particular its populist economic policies, which he has repeatedly blamed for feeding inflationary pressures. Larijani also claimed that because of the government’s profligate spending, the cash payments Iranians receive as a result of the first phase of subsidies reform, have been also eroded into irrelevance. Continue reading
Etemaad paraphrases Al-Masry Al-Youm’s interview with Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook in which he admits Hamas’s relationship with Iran has been affected by events in Syria. In the interview he is paraphrased as saying “the relations between the Hamas movement and Iran has been effected by events in Syria, but we desire our relations to remain as they were in the past and it is better if we can we make these relations more active”. Etemaad sought comment from the Palestinian ambassador in Tehran to little avail.
However, Etemaad did manage to obtain an interview with Hamas’s political bureau chief in Tehran, Khaled Ghadoumi, who attested to the “strategic relationship” between Iran and Hamas. “I am confident that the relations between us and Iran are a strategic relationship. Khaled Mashal, the chief of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas also a month ago in the course of an interview with Fars News Agency pointed to this strategic relationship and had announced his backing [for it].”
Ali Akbar Javanfekr, President Ahmadinejad’s press advisor, Managing Director of the Islamic Republic News Agency and director of the Iran Media-Cultural Institute has been jailed for 6 months on charges which include “insulting the leader”. Javanfekr’s sentence was issued in November 2011, as a result of an interview he conducted with the Reformist daily Etemaad in which he strongly criticized Ahmadinejad’s Principalist critics, as well as a supplement in Iran Newspaper deemed insulting to the black veil known as the “chador”. His sentence was subsequently upheld upon appeal. Javanfekr has also been banned from any media-related activities for a period of 3 years.
Baztab has posted a video of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani biding goodbye to his son, Mehdi Hashemi, before he is taken to Evin prison. The controversial ex-President’s son returned after a three year absence, after being accused of playing an important role in stoking the protests and unrest, commonly referred to as “the sedition” in official literature, which followed Iran’s 2009 presidential election, as well as numerous charges of corruption.
For the last three years Hashemi has been living in between London and Dubai, and various rumours had been circulating of when he might decide to return to Iran. The Iranian authorities on numerous occasions had also expressed their intent to pursue the case against Hashemi in the event of his return.
The release of this video of Rafsanjani embracing his son before he leaves for Evin prison is an attempt to humanise this “aqazadeh” (noble born, the term used for the sons of powerful clerics in the political establishment) and most likely arouse sympathy for Mehdi Hashemi, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his administration has long sought to tap into populist resentment at what many Iranians have come to see as an entitled class of elite children, who have aggrandized themselves politically and above all economically from their fathers’ power and patronage.
Aftab News, close to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has posted a letter from the latter’s 1986 memoir in which he refers to his son Mehdi, who was arrested yesterday on a whole raft of charges, contending “more than my child, you are a child of the revolution”.
Similarly, Rafsanjani’s reaction to his son’s arrest has been posted on numerous outlets stating, “my children are like other people’s children and there is no difference between my children and the people’s children”.
Rafsanjani has been widely accused of nepotism by the Iranian and foreign-based Persian media for decades. Such statements are likely attempts to distance himself from such accusations and dispel this deep-seated image of the former President and incumbent head of the Expediency Discernment Council.
For obvious reasons the Iranian media is widely reporting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s final visit to New York as president to attend the UN General Assembly. A number of his comments in a meet with American journalists have been highlighted, especially those pertaining to Iran’s relations with the United States.
The “ present condition in the relations between Iran and America are to the detriment of both countries and perhaps to the detriment of the entire world, but for their improvement we must look at the path and changes which brought relations to their present state, and pay attention to the point that the United States from the outset always stood opposed to the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran”.
He added, “the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to reflect on its own negative view of America and help until the time when the American government takes steps for the creation of mutual agreement between the two countries, so that an improvement of relations between them can be obtained more quickly”.