Hardliners Close in on Mousavi
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
19 May 2010 00:37
Ahmad Yazdanfar, senior aide and advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi and head of the team of bodyguards that protects him, has been arrested by the Islamic Republic's security forces. A former officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Yazdanfar has been Mousavi's bodyguard since 1983, and protected him at the height of the assassination campaign carried out by the Mojahedin-Khalgh Organization in the 1980s, when Mousavi was prime minister. He has been injured many times protecting Mousavi.
The arrest, apparently made at midnight on Saturday, May 15, was announced by Mousavi's website, Kalameh, on Tuesday. Mousavi has asked the entire staff of his office not to report to work. He has stated that Yazdanfar's arrest is part of a larger plan aimed either at his own arrest ahead of the June 12 anniversary of last year's rigged election, or at least his house arrest in order to prevent him from organizing peaceful demonstrations on the anniversary date.
Saleh Noghreh Kar, a nephew of Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi's wife, recently reported a conversation he had with Yazdanfar. When he asked the bodyguard why he has stayed with Mousavi for so long, rejecting numerous offers of other positions, Yazdanfar replied, "Mousavi is one of those rare people whose words and deeds are the same. I have stayed with him because of his honesty." With the arrest of Yazdanfar, practically all of Mousavi's aides and advisors have been jailed.
The arrest continues the ratcheting up of pressure on Mousavi by the hardliners and Revolutionary Guards. After he strongly protested the recent execution of five political prisoners, including four Kurdish activists, he has been threatened numerous times. Tehran's prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, announced that Mousavi may be arrested and tried, declaring his protest of the executions a punishable offense.
A letter signed by 175 hardline Majles (parliament) deputies was delivered to Sadegh Larijani, the judiciary chief, asking him to put Mousavi on trial. They claimed that because the executed people were mohareb (enemies of God), Mousavi's protest of their killing is a comparable offense. On Tuesday, Larijani responded, saying the letter interfered in the judiciary's work. In the interest of the political system, he announced, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei does not want Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami, the three main leaders of the Green Movement, to be arrested or put on trial.
The Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic (the national radio and television network) aired a primetime program the other night called Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. The lead participants were Sayyed Mahmoud Nabavian, a midranking cleric and head of the Imam Khomeini Educational and Research Organization, which is controlled by the ultrareactionary Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi (spiritual guide of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), and Mojtaba Shakeri, a member of the central committee of Jameiyat-e Isaargaraan-e Enghlelaab-e Eslami (Society of Islamic Revolution Devotees), which consists mainly of Basij and Guard veterans of the Iran-Iraq War. Both fiercely attacked Mousavi and other leaders of the Green Movement, as well as Reformist groups and religious intellectuals such as Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush and Dr. Mohsen Kadivar. Likening the Green Movement to a "depressed snake," Shakeri said that "although it is temporarily not active, it is waiting for the right time." Both called on the judiciary to take strong action against the Green Movement's leaders and other Reformists.
Mousavi has responded to the attacks, in particular to the statements by Jafari Dowlatabadi and the letter by the Majles deputies, via a posting on his website. He identified the prosecutor's statements as purely political and without legal basis. He suggested that, instead of asking the judiciary to put him on trial, the deputies should do the work they are paid for, namely, passing laws that protect people's interests, monitoring the performance of the executive branch, pursuing corruption, and vetting suspect agreements with foreign governments that may fail to protect Iran's national interests.
Mousavi's response ends by directly challenging the hardline leadership on its response to the actions of the Majles deputies: "If you reject these, then allow the people to stage peaceful demonstrations in accordance with Article 27 of the Constitution."
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