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Reports: Iran Intelligence Chief in Political Vice

17 Apr 2011 23:00Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian 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

2:39 a.m., 29 Farvardin/April 17 moslehi_0.jpg Sunday night, Tehran time, Seda-o Sima, or the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic (the national network of radio and television channels), failed to report anything about Intel chief Moslehi's resignation, Ahmadinejad accepting the resignation, or Ayatollah Khamenei's refusal to accept it (see below). Neither the news program at 10:00 p.m. or the midnight broadcast mentioned anything about the affair.

Ezzatollah Zarghami, head of the Voice and Visage, is an ally of Ahmadinejad. IRNA referred to Khamenei's order as a "claim by Fars," a news agency run by the intelligence unit of the IRGC.

Khabar Online, a website close to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani, reported that Moslehi had said that his ministry had referred some people to the judiciary for their "unlawful actions by rouge elements" and "insulting some officials or their relatives." The report presumably refers to the attacks by Ahmadinejad allies on Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his daughter, Faezeh Hashemi. While Khabar Online did not explicitly say that what Moslehi had said and his sudden resignation are related, the fact that the two reports are posted together implies that they believe the matters are indeed related. Mehr, the news agency that is run by the Organization for Islamic Propaganda, reports that Moslehi had resigned a while ago, but that his resignation had been set aside without any decision by Ahmadinejad, then activated again on Sunday, April 17.

Alef, a website run by conservative Majles Deputy and Ahmadinejad critic Ahmad Tavakkoli, reported that Moslehi's previous resignation had also been accepted by Ahmadinejad, but opposed by Khamenei.

11:20 p.m., 28 Farvardin/April 17 Heydar Moslehi, the Minister of Intelligence, resigned, according to IRNA, Iran's official news agency. His resignation was reportedly accepted by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Raja News, the hard-line website that supports Ahmadinejad, reported that Ahmadinejad had then appointed Moslehi as his adviser on security matters.

But according to the AP, "just hours later, several semi-official news agencies, including Fars, said Khamenei opposed the resignation and said that Moslehi will continue in the post, which has played a key role in the crackdown on opposition following Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009."

A few hours before the announcement that Ahmadinejad had accepted Moslehi's resignation, his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei had criticized the Intel chief -- without directly naming him. Mashaie was quoted as saying: "Our organs responsible [for intelligence issues] must correct their weaknesses on intelligence about the developments in the region as soon as possible, because lack of information and accurate analysis on every [uprising in the] nation and its relation with the grand plans of those who want to control the region may cause errors in our positions and decisions regarding the region." This is while Khamenei had praised Moslehi on a March 3 visit to the Ministry of Intelligence.

Jahan News, a website run by hardliner Alireza Zakani, reported that on Sunday morning Hossein Abdollahi, Deputy Minister of Intelligence for Planning and Budget, had been fired by Moslehi. Abdollahi is close to Mashaei and his firing apparently angered him. There have been reports of increasing tension between Moslehi on the one hand, and Ahmadinejad and Mashaei on the other. Jahan News also reported that Moslehi pre-empted the two men by resigning, because he did not want to meet the same fate as Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Ahmadinejad's first Minister of Interior. Mashregh News, a website that is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, reports that Moslehi had fired not one but two of his deputies.

As of filing this reporting, IRNA had still not reported on Khamenei's order. IRNA's head, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, is a close Ahmadinejad ally. He created some controversy last week when he said that not everything Ayatollah Khamenei says should be followed. Some of them, he opined, were mere advisories, and others orders. As an example of an advisory view, Javanfekr cited Khamenei's order to remove Mashaei from the post of First Vice President in August 2009.

Moslehi's letter of resignation has not yet been publicized.

Archive photos of Moslehi.

Iran hanged three inmates all convicted of killing two policemen, armed robbery and kidnapping and a fourth person convicted of serial killings, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. Quoting Jaber Banshi, the head prosecutor of the southern city of Shiraz, the report said the three were hanged Saturday after all were convicted on the same charges. The serial killer, convicted of killing eight people, was hanged in a nearby district.

The attack on the Center for Strategic Studies. Mehdi Khodaei (file photo). Islamic Azad students with Khodaei's father.

1 a.m., 28 Farvardin/April 17 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

The building of the Expediency Discernment Council's Center for Strategic Studies, headed by former chief nuclear negotiator Dr. Hassan Rouhani, was attacked by the staff of Tehran's municipality. They cut all the tress, destroyed some walls, fences, and the security room, and verbally assaulted the people who were working there. Rouhani is a close ally of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who heads the council.

Cleric Ali Saeedi, Khamenei's representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said, "Today the conditions for prosecuting the leaders of sedition [the Green Movement] do not exit." Explaining why this was so, Saeedi said, "One problem is that if action is taken, Association of Teachers and Scholars of Qom [a clerical organization that supports the Green Movement] and other groups will issue statements [against it]. We should confront the sedition's leaders smartly. We should not make the situation more complex, and must also pay attention to what is going on," hence acknowledging the support that the Green Movement has in the country. He continued, "House arrest of the sedition's leaders is perhaps the best solution, and this is while [Grand Ayatollahs Yousef] Sanei and [Abdolkarim] Mousavi Ardabili have sent messages [opposing the arrest]."

Speaking about Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's controversial chief of staff, Saeedi said, "Entering the political arena requires a certain level of maturity and experience that Mashaei does not perhaps have." Speaking about Rafsanjani, Saeedi said, "This problem is still a matter of considerable concern. We see that in the message [of condolence] that Mr. Rafsanjani has sent to the top leader of the sedition, [Mir Hossein] Mousavi, he has referred to him as the 'servant of the nation.' Thus it is not clear what type of thinking Rafsanjani is pursuing."

Mashaei said that he does not intend to run in the elections for the Ninth Majles, to be held in early March 2012. When asked whether he will run in the presidential election of 2013, he responded, "Ask me the question six months prior to the election."

Rafsanjani explained what happened after he wrote a letter to Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei a few days before the presidential election of 2009. He said that Khamenei told him that it would have been better if he had publicized the letter after the election, to which Rafsanjani replied that he had sent the letter to him, but had not received any response. Khamenei also told Rafsanjani that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had not accused him of anything in his nationally broadcast debate with Mir Hossein Mousavi, to which Rafsanjani responded that he was in fact the clear target of everything Ahmadinejad said.

A group of Islamic Azad University students visited the family of Mehdi Khodaei, secretary-general of the Muslim Students Association of the school's branch in Ray, on the southern edge of Tehran. Khodaei was first suspended from the university for two semesters. Then, in summer 2008, he was arrested and spent 38 days in solitary confinement in Evin Prison's Ward 209, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. On March 3, 2010, he was arrested again and reportedly tortured. He was given a jail sentence of seven years and is now in Evin's Ward 350, where common criminals are held. His father told the students, "Whatever Mehdi was doing was totally legal, but in the Islamic Republic law does not have any meaning. From the first day that we went to Evin we were treated badly. [They told us] you should have raised your children better so that you would not be in this situation. We were sad. I thought to myself, one day [in February 1979, during the Revolution,] we broke the doors of this prison to free all the political prisoners, but my son is now held in it.... Mehdi does not accept furlough, unless it is given to all the political prisoners. He was told repeatedly to ask for clemency to be freed, but he has refused, saying, 'I have not committed any offense to request clemency.'"

A group of political prisoners at Rajaei Shahr Prison has sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declaring that they will continue their hunger strike on special days, such as the World Day of Workers (May 1), Teachers' Day, Press Day, and June 12 (anniversary of the 2009 presidential election), and asking him to appoint a special envoy to investigate the status of freedom and human rights in Iran. Signed by Mansour Osanloo, Majid Tavakoli, Isa Saharkhiz, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Rasoul Bodaghi, Kayvan Samimi, and Mehdi Mahmoudian, the letter reads in part, "The people of Iran, especially the civil, political, and university activists, demonstrated on February 14, 20, and the last Tuesday evenings of the Iranian year [that ended on March 20] that they are still present energetically in the arena of struggle [against the dictatorship].... We, the political prisoners, protest against the conditions imposed on us that are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and even the rights of the citizens that have been recognized by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, using peaceful means and civil disobedience."

Hassan Malak Mohammadi, member of the Majles commission for cultural affairs, said that Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the commander of the national police, has been summoned to the Majles. The commission wants him to explain why the police have not confronted the use of satellite dishes more strongly, and why those that sell the dishes are not prosecuted. The widespread use of satellite dishes in Iran enables the people to watch programs broadcast by foreign-based television channels.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said that Iran is an impediment to peace between the two major Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas. He said that Iran has prevented Hamas from pursuing rapprochement with Fatah, and that Hamas has not responded to his peace offers.

Nedaye Enghleb, a website close to security and intelligence forces in Iran, claimed that it was due to the insistence of Britain that Ahmadinejad invited Kind Abdullah Ii of Jordan to travel to Iran. It claimed that the analysis of the British officials was that if the king went to Iran, his trip would become a black hole that would devour all the developments in the Middle East, meaning that the people would see that supposedly revolutionary Iran was hosting a monarch while his own people were demonstrating against him at home. Ahmadinejad was severely criticized for inviting the king, who ultimately did not make the trip.

Three people were publicly hanged in Isfahan. They had been convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, and killing two policemen. They were arrested while trying to leave Iran. Four people were also executed in the province of Fars after convictions on similar charges.

Four students of the Islamic Azad University campus in Khorramabad in Lorestan province have been released from detention. They were arrested after student demonstrations in protest at the firing, on the order of the Ministry of Intelligence, of Ehsanollah Heydari, a popular professor at the university. The students reportedly remain determined to continue protesting until Heydari is reinstated.

In a meeting with some of the Majles deputies, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardabili said the Majles is a very important organ in Iran in which some of the best people, such as Seyyed Hassan Modarres have worked. Modarres was a progressive cleric who opposed Reza Shah Pahlavi and was murdered on his order. The grand ayatollah said the Majles is so important that the Imam (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) said, "The Majles is at the top of everything." Mousavi Ardabili went on to say that certain newcomers want to hurt the Majles, and that "if the Majles is not a powerful organ, then we will gradually lose everything."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast condemned the European Union for imposing sanctions on 32 Iranian political and military figures.He said that the E.U.'s action is mimicking the policy of the United States, and indicates that the union does not have an independent foreign policy. Mehmanparast claimed that the action is meant to distract the public's attention from the gross violations of human rights by the Western powers in Afghanistan and some of the Arabic countries, including Iraq.

Over the past 10 years, 235,000 Iranians were killed in car accidents, 986 people were killed in air crashes, and 222,1810 people were injured. There are 38.26 transportation-related deaths for every 100,000 people in Iran, compared with 14 in the United States and 26 in the United Arab Emirates.

On the sixth anniversary of the demonstration in Ahvaz in Khuzestan province on April 15, 2005, there were demonstrations and clashes with the security forces. The demonstrators were protesting the government's attempt to change the population of the Arab neighborhood of Ahvaz to a predominantly Persian-speaking one. Some reports indicate that three people may have been killed and several others injured. Human rights groups in Ahvaz have reported that 150 people have been arrested, of whom 30 are women.

Mohammad Reza Rahimi, first vice President to Ahmadinejad, claimed that Iran is the most stable country for foreign investment. He also said that in the oil and natural gas industry Iran is one of the best countries to invest in, and asked European and American corporations to invest in Iran, saying that Iran "will gaurantee their profit 100 percent."

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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