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Khamenei in Qom Urges 'Solidarity' with Executive; Subsidy Moves Begin

20 Oct 2010 02:13No Comments

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THE LEAD

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Iran's Top Leader Seeks to Secure Clerics' Support

AP | Oct 19

Iran's supreme leader pushed defiant senior clerics to throw their support behind the government Tuesday as he began a 10-day visit to the holy city of Qom, hoping to end a split in the powerful religious establishment over last year's disputed elections.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, publicly supported President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the June 2009 presidential elections and endorsed his disputed victory in the vote. But a majority of senior clerics in Qom didn't side with Ahmadinejad and have increasingly adopted a critical language against the government.

"Solidarity with the three branches of power needs to be strengthened further day by day, specifically with the executive branch, which has a lot of burdens on its shoulders," Khamenei speaking to a crowd in a square near Qom's holiest shrine. His speech was broadcast live on state television.

"Spreading rumors and ignoring the services [provided by the government] is not at all in the country's interest," he said.

Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, one of the top 10 clerics in Qom, accused Ahmadinejad's government last month of lying about the country's economic situation.

"Statistics about reducing inflation are constantly released but contradict what the people see by their own eyes," Shirazi was quoted by the media as saying. "When state statistics don't correspond with reality, people lose confidence in government."

Iran's Khamenei Says Allies' Sanctions Are 'Creating a Division'

Washington Post | Oct 19

In a rare response to increasingly tough sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that such measures appeared aimed at "creating a division" between the people and the leaders of the Islamic republic.

Khamenei said the "harshening" sanctions are aimed at increasing pressure on the Iranian people. He spoke in the city of Qom, Iran's main center of Shiite Islamic learning, at the start of a scheduled 10-day visit.

"Fortunately,...it has been proved that in practice the sanctions have had no impact on the people's livelihood," Khamenei told worshipers gathered in a central square in Qom, about 80 miles south of Tehran.

In Qom, Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei Aims to Cement Leadership over Clerics

Christian Science Monitor | Oct 19

Ayatollah Khamenei basked in the adulation of crowds given the day off from work and school, in welcoming scenes far removed from those of a year ago, when protesters across Iran chanted "Death to Khamenei."

"He wants to show off his legitimacy, especially [because] since the election his legitimacy and popularity were greatly damaged and for the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic we had a huge demonstration in Qom...unprecedented, in which people shouted slogans against Khamenei," says Mehdi Khalaji, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who once trained at a seminary in Qom.

Tuesday's visit to Qom aimed to reaffirm Khamenei's credentials and dominance, now that the few remaining ayatollahs that publicly oppose him have been largely silenced -- their homes and offices under surveillance, and websites cut off.

Much of the rest of Iran's clerical establishment -- the majority, says Mr. Khalaji, whose father is an ayatollah in Qom that has been hassled by security services -- have kept silent, aware that it is the government that backs them with big budgets in return for political support.

"The fact that those clerics are welcoming him, accepting him, receiving him, that's a big thing for [Khamenei]. It shows that, 'My religious position, my leadership is approved,'" says Khalaji, who is writing a biography about Khamenei. "Some pictures, some video shots -- that would be enough for him, in order to show to the religious strata of society that, 'Don't think that whatever happened last year damaged my religious credentials.'"

In his speech in Qom, Khamenei stressed that two pillars of the Islamic Republic remained both its religious and its popular nature -- aspects which have grown in tension since the 1979 Islamic revolution, most notably since the vote last year.

"This revolution is supported by the people, it is a popular one," said the supreme leader. "If people hadn't been present on the scene, if there had been a great gap between the people and the [ruling system, it] would not have been able to stand up to the enemy."

The "enemy," Khamenei said on Tuesday -- including "mercenaries and lackeys inside the country" -- had since the 1960s targeted faith in God, and later loyalty to the Islamic regime through "promiscuity" and "fake mysticism" and "promoting different ideas."

"They make rumors to drive a wedge between the people and the [ruling system], and to dishearten the people they try to sow the seeds of hatred and sow the seeds of suspicion among the people," Khamenei said, according to a simultaneous English translation on state-run PressTV. "Whatever great achievement is done within the country, they just use it as a tool and launch a propaganda campaign against it. If there are weaknesses, they magnify them and do not show the strong points."

For young people, especially, Khamenei said, they wanted to "darken the bright future ahead." All those enemies of the Islamic Republic -- despite "great investments" in the effort -- had failed to "separate the people from the [regime]," even during the election last year.

Scores and possibly hundreds were killed in the crackdown by security forces and pro-regime militants. The Islamic Republic faced one of its more severe political crises in nearly three decades.

Khamenei publicly brushed off any residual concerns. The high election turnout of near 85 percent, he said -- which many Iranian voters at the time attributed to opposition efforts to unseat Mr. Ahmadinejad at the ballot box -- was a strategic show of support.

"In fact, it was a 40-million-strong referendum in favor of the Islamic establishment, and in favor of the elections; that was the reason the enemy got enraged and they wanted to provoke sedition to deal a blow to that," Khamenei said.

"People stood up to that sedition movement," he added. "Last year's sedition actually vaccinated the country against microbes, which can be political or social microbes...and increased [people's] insight."

Citizens to Receive Cash Subsidies in Three Provinces Today

Mehr | Oct 18

Administration announced on Monday that cash subsidies will be credited to people's accounts in the provinces of North Khorasan, South Khorsan and Khorasan Razavi on Tuesday.

People in other provinces will receive cash subsidies within two weeks.

The amount of the cash subsidy for each person is set at about 40 dollars.

Earlier, the administration had announced that the implementation of the subsidy reform plan is scheduled to begin in the second half of the Iranian calendar month of Mehr (September 23 to October 22).

The Iranian government plans to eliminate the subsidies on fuel, energy, and certain goods over the course of five years. The administration has decided to pay cash subsidies for an undecided period of time to compensate low-income families for the inflationary repercussions of the plan.

The head of [the] State Inspectorate Organization, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, on Tuesday urged people to help the government to implement the subsidy reform properly.

"All people should cooperate for proper implementation of the subsidy reform plan...we should be ready to face the repercussions," he said.

Police Chief Denies Writing to President on Subsidy Plan

Mehr | Oct 19

Police chief Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam has denied that he has written a letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warning about the repercussions of implementing the subsidy reform plan.

Ahmadi-Moqaddam said, "Police will back the administration during the (process of) implementing the subsidy reform plan."

"Last week we had a meeting with the president about the subsidy reform plan and were briefed about our duties," he stated.

Ahmadi-Moqaddam also said [the] police [are] concerned about the fallout of the subsidy reform plan.

"[The] police [are] worried that following the implementation of the plan, the incidents (protests) which occurred after the gasoline rationing [will] happen (again)," he explained.

People Should Fasten Belt ahead of Subsidy Reform Plan: Governor

Mehr | Oct 19

Tehran Governor Morteza Tamaddon stated on Tuesday that people should "firmly fasten their belts" ahead of the implementation of subsidy reform plan.

Talking to reporters, he said that implementing the subsidy reform plan is a complicated task and there is a difficult road ahead.

The economic reforms will be "bitter for some individuals and we should prepare ourselves to face these enemies," he noted.

The governor went on to say that subsidy reform plan will mostly benefit the middle and lower class people who will cooperate with the officials in its implementation.

OTHER NEWS

Iran Welcomes Chavez as Partner Against Western "Bullies"

Reuters | Oct 19

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received his close Latin American ally Hugo Chavez on Tuesday and welcomed the Venezuelan president's support against the Islamic Republic's western "bullies."

Both men are eyed with great suspicion by the United States which has led [to] tougher international sanctions against Iran over the nuclear programme Washington fears would lead to a bomb.

The leaders of the two major oil exporters inspected a guard of honour before heading into talks which Iranian media said were aimed at boosting cooperation in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.

"The progressive and fraternal stance of Venezuela in condemning sanctions against Iran imposed by the bullying powers is indicative of the deep and firm ties between the two countries," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the student news agency ISNA.

10 Iranian Pilgrims Injured in Iraq Bomb Attack

Fars | Oct 19

At least 10 Iranian nationals were injured in Iraq's capital city of Baghdad on Tuesday when twin bombs ravaged busloads of Iranian pilgrims destined for holy shrines in the Shiite city of Karbala.

The first bomb hit a bus early Tuesday, moments after it left a hotel in the Sa'adun area to head to the holy city of Karbala, 100 km Southwest of Baghdad.

The second bomb went off in another location in Sa'adun when the pilgrims were boarding another bus, injuring more Iranian pilgrims.

The Iranian pilgrims had visited the cities of Samarra and Kazzemain and were scheduled to depart Sa'adun for Karbala on Tuesday morning, an Iranian official reiterated.

Iraqi civilians and security forces as well as mostly Iranian pilgrims have increasingly been under such attacks in recent months.

In a most recent case, at least seven Iranian nationals were injured in Iraq's Muqdadiyah town in Diyala province when a roadside bomb ravaged a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims to Karbala and Najaf on October 10.

Rafsanjani: 'Freedom of Expression a Blessing for the Islamic Republic'

Asr Iran (in Arabic) | Oct 17

Head of the Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says freedom of speech can bring glory to the establishment of the Islamic Republic.

In a meeting with the members of the Fada'iyan-e Islam Society, Ayatollah Rafsanjani said, "Without domestic unity, we cannot create unity outside our borders and sedition can create problems like those of early Islam."

"The most comprehensive thing that can unite society is religion and faith."

The head of the Expediency Council pointed to the vast media resources at the disposal of the enemies of Islam and the Revolution and said, "They exploit some of [our] domestic issues and problems in order to call into question the establishment, the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] -- therefore, we must all be vigilant in the face of such conspiracies."

"Efforts to create the desired atmosphere for the freedom of speech and thought can bring much glory and blessings for the establishment of the Islamic Republic and this is one of the progressive Islamic principles."

He went on to urge the Fada'iyan-e Islam Society to pursue its principles, make its programs and slogans compatible with modern times, and "create ways to recruit the youth and train them to preserve [the group's] ideas."

China Says 'Honest' in Upholding Sanctions on Iran

AP (via Washington Post) | Oct 19

China has been sincere in its efforts to uphold nuclear sanctions against Iran, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, though a spokesman would not deny that some Chinese companies may be providing restricted technology to Tehran.

The comments came after The Washington Post reported that the U.S. has asked Beijing to do more to stop Chinese companies from providing assistance and expertise to Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons and more powerful missiles.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China believes all countries should implement U.N. resolutions against Iran in a "comprehensive, accurate and earnest" manner.

"China has always been honest in implementing and fulfilling our international obligations and has taken a positive part in this regard," Ma said at a regularly scheduled briefing.

However, asked to deny outright that Chinese companies or banks were involved in transferring nuclear technology to Iran, Ma declined, saying only: "I've given a very comprehensive statement on our position."

Iran Says Jets Refused Fuel in Europe

BBC | Oct 19

Iran says that some Western companies are refusing to refuel its planes in Europe, an act it says is illegal under international law.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned that Tehran would "confront" such measures.

Mr Mehmanparast, speaking at a news conference, was asked to comment on reports that flights by the state carrier Iran Air were being refused fuel at London Heathrow airport.

"Unfortunately, some Western companies have adopted inappropriate measures," Mr Mehmanparast said.

"We advise their governments that first of all this act is beyond the relevant regulations, even beyond those of the illegal UN Security Council's resolution, and under international law it is an unlawful act."

He added: "We will definitely not tolerate such inappropriate actions by some companies, and measures to confront such actions are on our agenda."

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