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What's Everyone Saying about Ahmadinejad?

08 May 2011 04:09Comments

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.


173871_536.jpgOur columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Even though President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned to work after a ten-day absence, criticism of him by senior officials and influential figures who support Ayatollah Khamenei continued unabated -- as did the campaign to assert the Supreme Leader's absolute authority on the hearts and minds of the Iranian people. While most do not name Ahmadinejad, it is clear he is the target:

In a ceremony commemorating the war martyrs of the Province of Fars in southern Iran, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said, "After 33 years [since the Revolution] the people of Iran will not tolerate any deviations [from the revolutionary path]. We should be aware that, in addition to foreign evils, internal evils have also been organized to defeat the Revolution. Deviations from the Islamic Republic -- which is natural -- sometimes occurs in foreign policy, sometimes against people's resistance, sometimes in economic affairs, but most importantly against the main pillar of the political system, Velaayat-e Faghih. Without Velaayat-e Faghih the Islamic Republic is similar to the rest of republics in the region that also claim to be Islamic republics. To remain in the revolutionary path is to obey the Faghih [the Supreme Leader]. Anyone who stands against the Faghih, has undoubtedly not understood the meaning of the Islamic Revolution. Anyone who prefers his own views over those of the Faghih has violated the constitution."

Kazem Sadighi, leader (or Imam) of Tehran's Friday prayers, said, "His excellency, Ayatollah Khamenei is in the 'control tower' and monitors anything that may be against the interests of the society. He does not want anything for himself. Monitoring the President is that control tower... The relation between the President and the Leader is not one between father and son, because the President is a soldier of Velaayat-e Faghih and obeying him is a must. The President has said the same, but words are not the criterion, we are awaiting action [by the President]." Kayhan, the mouthpiece of part of the security/intelligence forces, used this quote as its banner headline on Sunday, May 8. Sadighi also said, "A war cannot have two commanders."

Kayhan also warned Ahmadinejad about those who have supposedly penetrated his government. In an editorial Mehdi Mohammadi warned that, "The pious and revolutionary people of Iran have been concerned over the last several days that there is a hand within the government that is trying to replace the Islamic values, for which people support the government, with fake principles and values." He warned that, "those who consider themselves close to the President," want to promote "liberalism, nationalism, opposition to Islamic values and symbols, establishing good relations with foreigners, and in summary, distancing [themselves] from the values of the Islamic Revolution."

Kayhan has also reported extensively about the financial dealings of Mashaei, Hamid Baghaei [another Ahmadinejad aide] and Mehdi Jahangiri, a close aide to Mashaei.

Ahmadinejad's former First Vice President, Parviz Davoodi, who now heads Center for Strategic Studies of the Office of the President, said, "We see that there has recently been a fake debate about the differences between the President and the Supreme Leader and some are trying to make people accept it, but this is a planned sedition. We have not earned the President easily to lose him easily, and we have not earned the Supreme Leader easily to lose him easily."

Conservative Grand Ayatollah Naser Makaren Shirazi said in the same ceremony attended by General Jafari that, "Do not even think that the enemies' conspiracy [against Iran] has ended. We should always be prepared to defend and obey Velaayat-e Faghih. To protect the results of the martyrs' blood we must not allow foreigners to penetrate the government in senior positions."

Sayyed Shab ol-din Sadr, Deputy Majles Speaker, said that, "The legitimacy of anyone who hesitates to obey the Supreme Leader is questionable. More than any other time, senior officials must obey the Supreme Leader. The legitimacy of all organs of the government and the political system emanates from the Velaayat-e Faghih."

Reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who used to be an ardent supporter of the President, essentially accused him of being a liar. He said in his seminary class, "If you [the President] really accept Velaayat-e Faghih, why do you not accept his orders? In order not to reveal their true intentions, some people claim that they follow the Imam's [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's] line and Velaayat-e Faghih, but their actions and their words indicate that they lie."

Rasoul Sanaei Rad, deputy head of the IRGC political directorate, said that, "When it becomes difficult for our enemies to confront our political system directly, they activate penetration of the system in order to destroy it. Over the years we have witnessed deviations [from the Revolution] and penetration [of the system]... It is not easy to identify the deviants who have penetrated the system, as they influence the system with a minimal cost; they always try to induce senior officials to stand against the system...Some officials complain about lack of power [a direct reference to Ahmadinejad regarding firing Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi], but when the Supreme Leader was the President [in the 1980s], he never spoke about his lack of power... Mashaei has not been arrested, but those who are linked with a group within the office of the president have been arrested."

Sayyed Ahmad Alam ol-Hoda, Mashhad's Friday prayers leader, said that, "Anyone who stands against Velaayat-e Faghih and disobeys him, and considers another model against the political system, worships Taghout [someone that dissuades and deviates from worshiping God]. Some people believe that they can create a new cult or religion and deceive people, but believing in Imam Mahdi is possible only through a completely qualified Majtah [Islamic scholar that can extract the true meaning of Islamic teachings]," meaning Khamenei.

Esmail Kosari, member of the leadership of the Majles commission on foreign policy and national security said, "Because Velaayat-e Faghih considers the interests of the society, his order is above the laws. He leads the society in the absence of Imam Mahdi. He leads the society in utter tranquility, and he leads not only our country but also all the Muslims of the world. "

Saturday May 7 was the anniversary of the death of Fatemeh Zahra, daughter of the Prophet. Thus, the traditional mourning ceremonies were held all over the country. In the mourning that was held by the hardliners, many slogans were shouted and cursed at Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's chief of staff. "Curse be upon the enemy of Sayyed Ali [Khamanei]," for example. The mourning ceremony was also held for three evenings by the office of the Supreme Leader, which was attended by him and almost all the high officials. Ahmadinejad attended only the last one, according to news sites close to the hardliners (reports from competing websites dispute even the one appearance). His son however was present (pictured above).

Majles deputy and reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Rahbar said, "Accepting Velaayat-e Faghi is part of our belief, Islam, Shiism, and our heavenly culture. Accepting Velaayat-e Faghih has a special place in our Islamic system, and is in fact the key to the legitimacy of the political system and its organs. Everyone has legitimacy only due to the Velaayat-e Faghih. If someone does not obey the Supreme Leader, people will take back their vote for him."

Ayatollah Abolghasem Kazali, member of the Assembly of Experts and former member of the Guardian Council, said, "If someone receives not just 20 million votes [that former president Mohammad Khatami received], but 40 million, and the Supreme Leader does not certify it, the votes do not endow any credibility to that person. If you are looking for someone who is really concerned about the Islamic Revolution, you cannot find anyone more qualified than Ayatollah Khamenei."

Hard-line website Asr-e Iran, warned in an editorial that, "Politicians with illusions beware: Officials more important than you [two: the President and Mashaei] were eliminated [let alone you]. Some people have the illusion that they can change the game to benefit their group and themselves. This [political] spectrum thinks that it is in a position to take control of everything. The political system will see the deviations but will not protest due to its high cost. But, the fact that there has not been the "final confrontation" is due to the ability of the system to tolerate [the deviants] and the decency of the Supreme Leader. They however interpret this as the weakness of the system. This system lost [Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Hosseini] Beheshti [Iran's first judiciary chief after the Revolution, who was assassinated on June 27, 1981], and this system fired the deputy to the Supreme Leader [the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri in 1988], and of course the system did not collapse."

Mizan Khabar, a website close to the Nationalist-Religious Coalition, reports that Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Ahmadinejad's First Vice President, has been sentenced to five years in prison and a permanent ban on government employment. He was also ordered to return all the money he made as a result of his illegal dealings.

As reported by Tehran Bureau, Rahimi has been accused of involvement in illegal financial transactions totally about $120 million.

The Office of the President has issued a statement denying that the Supreme Leader gave Ahmadinejad a deadline to either resign or accept to continue working with Moslehi. As previously reported here, Morteza Agha Tehrani, a cleric close to Ahmadinejad, said that Khamenei had set a deadline for the President. Khamenei's office has also asked the media to refrain from publishing unofficial news about "the respected President."

As reported yesterday, the hardliners are afraid that Ahmadinejad and his group may resort to fraud in the upcoming Majles elections scheduled for early March 2012. Today, Asadollah Badamchain, a conservative Majles deputy and influential member of the Islamic Coalition Party (ICP), confirmed those fears. He said that a list of thirteen names has been presented to the President, from which he should select nine. The three would work with former Majles Speaker, Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel; former foreign minister and current senior foreign policy advisor to Khamanei, Ali Akbar Velayatiand; and Habibollah Asgar Oladi, former secretary-general of the ICP. Badamchian said, "The group will not intervene in the [Majles] elections, but establish the [right] environment in the government to supervise the elections, because some provincial governors, and city and village governors may illegally intervene in the elections. The government, and in particular those who are close to the President, should avoid any activity that could create the impression that they are trying to influence the outcome of the Majles elections." In effect, what the conservative supporters of Khamenei are trying to do is form a committee that protects the votes and does not allow Ahmadinejad and his team to manipulate them. This is exactly what Mir Hossein Mousavi did in the 2009 presidential election, except that the hardliners disrupted the work of the committee, as acknowledged by an IRGC commander several months after the election, as reported by Tehran Bureau.

In order to prevent the founding of a new Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, as approved by the Majles, Ahmadinejad had said that he would write a letter to Khamenei and apparently ask him to side with him. But on Saturday, Lotfollah Forouzandeh, a spokesman for the government, said that Ahmadinejad is moving ahead with plans to establish the new ministry. It is not yet clear whether the letter was sent to Khamenei and turned down, or whether Ahmadinejad decided that under the present conditions writing the letter was useless. He could have also decided not to send the letter to demonstrate his independence from Khamenei.

Saham News, the website that reflects the views of Mehdi Karroubi and his National Trust Party, reported a clash between supporters of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei near the annual book fair exhibition hall. They attacked each other with belts and other items, causing many injuries, according to the report, and cursed at each other using extremely profane language. Police reportedly stood aside and watched. Most of the clashes occurred at the subway station exit next to the exhibition. When a reporter said to the police sarcastically that, "You have made a great effort [to separate the two sides]," a policeman responded, "What are we supposed to do?"

Activist Mojtaba Hashemi, a law student at the University of Tehran, has been sentenced to one year in jail, three years of suspension from the university, and 74 lashes. Last year, he tried to organize a gathering to commemorate university student day in Iran, but was prevented from doing so and summoned to court.

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