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Guardian Council Chief: 'The Perverted Team Is Being Eliminated'

14 May 2011 02:00Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

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Tehran Friday Prayers: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati; members of the congregation; Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

2 a.m., 24 Ordibehesht/May 14 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

In his sermon during the capital's official Friday Prayers at the University of Tehran, reactionary cleric and Guardian Council Secretary-General Ahmad Jannati referred to the "perverted team," the now-common epithet among hardliners for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, and his circle. Jannati declared, "The perverted team is being gradually eliminated." He said that the firing and reinstatement of Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi "had preoccupied some, and both inside the country and outside some people were happy because they thought that there were fissures in the political system. Some were also sad and angry, warned [the president], met [with the president], and did a lot of work. This issue was totally unexpected.... This is the country of Velaayat-e Faghih [guardianship of the Islamic jurist, represented by the Supreme Leader]. The people support someone so long as he moves along this path. But if he deviates from it, the people's support will end." Jannati also accused Ahmadinejad and his allies of "distributing money among some groups in order to attract their votes." He observed, "They fire someone and claim that this was on the order of Agha [His Excellency]. Some thought that the reference was to the Supreme Leader. But they say no, it was Emam-e Zaman's [Imam Mahdi's] order."

The hardline weblog Navabiyan warned Ahmadinejad that if he and his team insist on their positions, "Children of Martyr Navvab Safavi will do to Mashaei what Saeed Asgar did to Dr. Saeed Hajarian." Navvab Safavi, an Islamic fundamentalist who founded Fadayan-e Eslam, assassinated several officials and other prominent Iranians in the 1940s. Saeed Asgar attempted to assassinate leading reformist strategist Saeed Hajarian in April 2000 after the reformists swept the elections for the Sixth Majles. Another pro-Khamenei weblog, Ermineh, mocked Ahmadinejad, saying that his recent behavior has made Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani happy and that "you [Ahmadinejad] do not have the support of the majority even in your own family. If you do not believe it, take a poll." This was in response to the president's claim that even now he has 35 million votes.

In an editorial published by Kayhan, Mohammad Imani referred to Ahmadinejad's team as "contaminated" and said that it "must be quarantined" because it needs "treatment." Imani distinguished Ahmadinejad from his team, who he claimed are trying to promote "several scenarios." The first scenario is "to go around the Supreme Leader with the claim that it is directly linked with Imam Mahdi." This is a maneuver that I have been analyzing for nearly two years. The second scenario is "propagating shallow and perverted issues." The third scenario is "creating the impression that the Islamic Republic has reached an impasse regarding the Constitution and a religious government."

Reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who used to be one of Ahmadinejad's most ardent supporters, said, "By claiming that Imam Mahdi runs the country, some people want to question Velaayat-e Faghih." Mesbah Yazdi said that this idea, together with the support of foreigners, is similar to what Ali Mohammad Bab tried to do. Mesbah Yazdi was referring to Seyyed Ali Mohammad Shirazi, who took the title of Bab (literally, gate), founded Babism, and was one of the three central figures of Baha'i, a religion that is not recognized by the Islamic Republic. In another attack on Ahmadinejad's circle, judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani said that certain of its members have been involved in financial corruption, have illicit relations with the opposite sex, and resort to exorcism.

In a speech given during maneuvers by Basij forces, Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani said that the maneuvers have a clear purpose: "The Basij's message is that, Oh, Imam, oh, our Leader [Khamenei], we will obey you until the last moment of our lives and, as you said, will not allow the Revolution to be deviated from its path." Hamadani said, "Those who want to hurt the political system should be aware that the Basij are more prepared than ever to protect the Revolution."

Neda-ye Enghlelab, a hardline website, reported that one of the two people close to Mashaei who have been arrested for being involved in exorcism and associating with djinns has great influence over many state television programs. The man, Ali Yaghoobi, was arrested by Revolutionary Guards in Qom. According to the website, many directors and producers at the national television network are influenced by Yaghoobi, so much so that, "if we were to make a list of all such people, it would be too long for this article."

In an interview with IRNA, Iran's official news agency, Mashaei addressed the accusations that he does not believe in Velaayat-e Faghih: "Under the present conditions, I do not intend to respond to the baseless accusations and doubts. But I emphasize that Velaayat-e Faghih is the most important heritage of the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and, in principle, there would not have been an Islamic Revolution without Velaayat-e Faghih, and it would not have been able to continue. As I have said repeatedly, living in the shadow of the Faghih is a practice for living in the worldwide rule of Imam Mahdi, and obeying Velaayat-e Faghih is necessary for believing in Imam Mahdi."

Reactionary cleric and Majles deputy Mohammad Taghi Rahbar said that after Ahmadinejad boycotted his job and stayed home for 11 days, many Majles deputies wanted to impeach him. As reported by Tehran Bureau, influential conservative deputy Asadollah Badamchian previously made a similar statement. Rahbar said that the only reason that impeachment did not proceed was that Speaker Larijani "wisely" prevented it for the sake of returning calm to the country. In Rahbar's description, "Firing the minister of intelligence and refusing to accept the order of the Supreme Leader [for his reinstatement] created chaos and disturbances in the country."

After Ahmadinejad asserted that the merger of eight ministries into four approved by his cabinet was completely legal and in accord with the law for the nation's fifth development program, the Guardian Council swiftly issued a statement rejecting the claim and declaring that the administration must obtain the Majles's consent. Vice President for Legal Affairs Fatemeh Bodaghi was scheduled to debate Ahmad Tavakoli, chairman of the Majles Research Center, on the issue, but the debate was canceled. On Thursday evening, Majles Speaker Ali Larijani and Ahmadinejad met and the president supposedly accepted the council's view and promised to introduce legislation to the Majles to obtain approval for the mergers. He is also supposed to introduce his candidates to head the newly created ministries for votes of confidence. Before the meeting, Larijani said that only the Majles can interpret the laws, not the executive branch.

In rejecting the view that the merger of the ministries was illegal, Ahmadinejad had claimed that "the ninth and tenth administrations [his] are the most law-abiding ones in Iran's history." Majles deputy Ali Motahari, a brother-in-law of Larijani's, responded that the claim was "more like a joke than a fact." In an interview with Aftab News, a website close to Rafsanjani, Motahari said that to prove his point, Ahmadinejad "also said that 'it had been claimed that $1 billion was missing from the Treasury, but it has now become clear that it was only a miscalculation.' That is simply not true. The matter of the missing funds has not been resolved."

The office of the president announced that Ahmadinejad will address the nation in a live, nationally broadcast television program on Sunday night.

***

In other news, the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, the temporary leadership council for the Green Movement while Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are under house arrest, has issued its ninth statement, in which it declares its support for Iran's university students. Recounting and condemning the heightened repression of students ever since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose to power in 2005, involving everything from academic suspension and expulsion to arrest and imprisonment, the statement proclaims, "The big problem is that the rulers are incapable of understanding the special place that thinking [people] have" in the society. The statement invites the people to support the students' peaceful movement. In a separate statement, the Council declared its support for the democracy movements in the region.

Mohammad Javad (Ardeshir) Larijani, who is deputy to his brother, judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani, for human rights issues, announced that, in collaboration with other Islamic countries, Iran intends to prepare an "Islamic charter of human rights" and provide it to the world. Larijani made the statement during a trip to South Africa. In response to a question, he said, "The West, led by the United States, has committed a crime in exerting pressure on Iran, by converting the human rights issue to a political project." He also claimed that the Islamic charter will also be able to influence non-Islamic countries.

Reformist Majles deputy Mohammad Reza Khabbaz said that the government cannot control inflation in the long term, and that the rate will soon reach 40-50 percent. He said that the government's policy for controlling inflation -- reducing the development budget of the country and injecting the funds into the market -- can be effective for only a brief time.

Four people in Kerman and eight people in West Azerbaijan province were hanged. They were all reportedly convicted of trafficking in narcotics.

As reported by Tehran Bureau, imprisoned journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian wrote a letter to Khamenei in which he has described the many crimes taking place in Iranian jails. Although the letter was sent in September 2010, it was publicized only this week. Reports indicate that, in retaliation, Mahmoudian has been transferred to a new ward and placed in solitary confinement. His mother, Fatemeh Alvandi, said that her husband went to Rajaei Shahr Prison to visit their son, but was told that he is banned from seeing his family.

In its 50th annual report on the state of human rights around the world, Amnesty International criticized the Islamic Republic of Iran for its ongoing wave of executions, increasing limits on freedom of expression and assembly, the arrest and detention of political activists, and the long prison sentences it routinely hands them. It provides the details of a host of violations of human rights, executions, inhumane punishments, discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities and women, pressure on human rights advocates, immunity of security and intelligence forces against prosecution for breaking the law, torture, unjust trials, and illegal arrests.

As reported by Tehran Bureau, Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, responded Tuesday to a letter from Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, with his own letter agreeing to a new round of talks with the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. But Ashton's office suggested that a fresh bid to resolve the nuclear dispute was premature. Ashton's spokesman, Maja Kocijancic, said, "We are surprised to hear the Iranians talking about meetings. They have not been in touch with us with any proposals. On its own, Dr. Jalili's letter does not contain anything new and does not seem to justify a further meeting. We will be in touch with the Iranians with the aim to create the basis for a new dialogue." It appears that Jalili's letter was sent without any prior discussion through the usual diplomatic channels and contained no new offers. The last round of talks between Iran and the P5+1, held in Istanbul, Turkey, collapsed in January. Ashton's letter to Jalili stated that a negotiated solution would need to "restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of [Iran's] nuclear program" and that Iran's preconditions that its right to enrich uranium be recognized and U.N. sanctions lifted "are not acceptable to us."

Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said that while the P5+1 deliberates over Jalili's letter, "We've also been very candid in saying that unless there's a reason to meet, we shouldn't meet." Toner said that Washington stands behind Ashton in insisting that "Iran needs to address its nuclear program. That's the bottom line." In his response to Ashton, Jalili claimed that the P5+1's intransigence is the reason for the deadlock and, "Accepting the legitimate requests of nations and refraining from conduct based on supremacy are the only way out of the current self-created stalemate." Living up to his reputation for talking generalities and grandstanding on issues that have nothing to do with the nuclear dispute, Jalili suggested that the next round of negotiations should focus on "combating the root cause of terrorism, drug trafficking, and piracy in the high seas," and referred to the nuclear dispute only in the context of general nuclear disarmament.

A new U.N. report leaked to the media asserts that Iranian weapons that have been banned for export under Security Council resolutions are being sent to Syria. According to the document, "most reported incidents of conventional arms-related violations involve Syria, and in incidents inspected by the panel, prohibited material was carefully concealed to avoid routine inspection." It states, "The sanctions are constraining Iran's procurement of items related to prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile activity and thus slowing development of these programs," but, at the same time, "Iran's circumvention of sanctions across all areas, in particular the use of front companies, concealment methods in shipping, financial transactions and the transfer of conventional arms and related materiel, is willful and continuing."

Russia has completed delivery of the second installment of nuclear fuel rods for the Bushehr reactor. The installment is about 30 tons, the last portion of which arrived in Iran on Wednesday. Three years ago, Russia delivered 80 tons of fuel rods for the reactor.

The French judiciary has dismissed terrorism charges against 34 members of the Mojahedin-e Khlagh Organization (MKO), including Maryam Rajavi. The charges were brought in 2003 when the group's headquarters were raided by the French police. While the terrorism charges have been dropped, nine of the MKO members are still under investigation for financial irregularities. Nine million dollars were confiscated in the raid.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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