With Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) set to meet on Nov. 20 in Geneva to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, Kayhan, whose editor is chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has questioned the continuation of talks after it was reported that Iran has reduced some of its nuclear activity, suggesting that a concession to do so was influenced by the same people who, with the help of the United States and Israel, brought millions of protesters to the streets after the contested 2009 presidential elections.
Today, Iran’s parliament began debating President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet nominations. Although opposition websites had stated that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had twice reviewed Rouhani’s cabinet nominations before they were presented to parliament, today’s session was an opportunity for some hard-line parliament members to publicly air grievances, especially in regard to the 2009 election protests and the Green Movement.
In a speech to a crowd of university students today, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed the protests of the 2009 elections, his fears about what those protests could have led to and questioned why those who claimed that fraud was committed have not yet apologized.
Several powerful and influential clerics have given statements on whether Reformists will run for the presidency or be disqualified by the Guardian Council, the body of clerics that vets candidates for the elections in Iran. The most prominent to be mentioned from the Reformist camp is former president Mohammad Khatami, although other names have also been mentioned as potential candidates as well.
Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi said that “the Reformists are after a candidate that will not be disqualified, [but] their leaders will certainly be disqualified.” Mesbah Yazdi, who is a member of the Assembly of Experts, the body of clerics that theoretically serves as an oversight body for the Supreme Leader, said that “after the sedition of 2009, the Reformists no longer have a place amongst the people.”
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
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.
Cmdr. Ahmad Zolghadr, the deputy head of the Tehran Revolutionary Guards, has said in a speech in Mashhad: “If we had acted on the fatwa of the late imam [Khomeini] and had killed Salam Rushdie, insult against the Prophet of Islam would not take place.”
[Apparently, he meant that subsequent perceived insults including films and cartoons, including the infamous Danish cartoon that led to violence, wouldn’t have been produced.}
The British-Indian writer, Salman Rushdie, famously penned a novel by the name of The Satanic Verses, in reaction to which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the then Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa in February 1989, shortly before his death, urging Muslims to execute the writer on charges of apostasy, stating that his murder was Islamically lawful or halal.
Even after Rushdie recanted and claimed he had returned to the fold of Islam, Khomeini refused to lift the order.
Commander Yadollah Javani, one of the most vocal members of the Revolutionary Guards and a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has written the lead article in the Guards’ weekly newspaper, Sobh-e Sadegh, by the name of “Is the Slogan of ‘Free Election’ the Code of Another Sedition?”
The article is alluding to statements made by a number of reformist politicians, but also moderate figures such as former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and even incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which they have called on people to be vigilant in order to ensure that a “free election” is held for the Islamic Republic’s presidency this summer.
The suggestion that the election will not be “free” was very quickly rebutted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as numerous other conservative political figures, and deemed an effort on the part of hostile elements to instil doubt among the populace with respect to the future election’s fairness and trustworthiness.
Below I have provided a translation of some of the more noteworthy excepts of Javani’s essay.
“In 2009 the biggest and most complex conspiracy against the Islamic Revolution and the established religious regime in Iran took place. In this complicated conspiracy, alongside global arrogance under American leadership and the anti-revolutionary movement, forces with a revolutionary past and [once] possessing immense responsibilities in the Islamic regime, had active participation [in this conspiracy]. This conspiracy entered the country into the stage of sedition. The approaches of the movement claiming to be Reformist, in pursuit of political power and adopting a strategy for obtaining executive power in the 2009 election, at any price and [thought] permissible the use of any possible means, tool, and method. The adoption of the same Machiavellian and diabolical politics by some reformists, that sided with foreign enemies and total anti-revolutionaries inside and outside the country … Now that we are on the verge of the 11th presidential election, is it possible in the course of this election (before, during and after the election) another conspiracy and sedition will occur?”
“If in the 2009 election the reformists with the slogans, “the necessity for protection of votes” and the formation of “the committee for the protection of votes,” and ultimately the slogan of “fraud” and the claim of fraud in the election and the manipulation of votes, brought about that great sedition. Is it possible that the slogan of “free election” that now with the space of five months till the election, is proclaimed by some of the domestic political spectrum, accompanied by foreign anti-revolutionaries, is the beginning of a road that will result in another sedition in the 2013 election?”
Javani then explicitly cites the comments of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani preceding the 2009 presidential election in which the latter warned against the manipulation of people’s votes and frontally attacks Rafsanjani, accusing him of preparing the ground for the “great lie” and allegation of electoral fraud. If you recall one of the first and most notable slogans chanted by Mousavi and Karroubi supporters was “Where is My Vote?”
He goes on, “the repetition of the same kind of views with respect to the election and the creation of suspicion regarding its health, was the introduction for the scenario of fraud and expressing that great lie and street campaigns that damaged the security of the country and the credibility of the Islamic regime.”
“Now in the space of the remaining 5 months to the election, a wave both inside and outside the country in a calculated way has been started by the groups, and they have emphasized the word, ‘free election’ and repeat it! When the election in Iran is free in the framework of the law and is healthy, why do a number both inside and outside, repeat ‘the free nature of the election’ in the form of a slogan? Does the regime want to hold an unfree election?”
Javani then goes on to name and cite the comments of several prominent members of the Islamic Republic elite, who have expressed their fears over whether June’s electoral race will be fair. These include former president Mohammad Khatami, former Interior Minister Abdolvahab Mousavi Lari, the head of the Reformist-leaning clerical association, the Association of Combatant Clerics, Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeiniha, and even Presdient Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The son of the deposed Shah, Reza Pahlavi, also features on the list.
It’s hard to lose sight of the irony of the fact that while Ahmadinejad insisted his own re-election in 2009 was free and fair, a claim disputed by many, he has more recently implied that the next presidential election may well fail to be such. Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Khamenei, and his allies in the Revolutionary Guards, are keen to insist that any suggestion that the election could fail to be anything other than free and fair, is preposterous and another ‘conspiracy’ in the making.
Image of Yadollah Javani via IRNA