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News | Ahmadinejad Lashes Out at Critics

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

06 Nov 2011 01:35Comments
30648876-1858593.jpg [ media watch ] On Thursday, November 3, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with a group of his supporters in Tehran. The group is called Haamian-e Goftemaan-e Enghelaab-e Eslami (Supporters of Islamic Revolution Dialogue). Iranian mass media, and in particular the hardline press and websites, published only a summary of his speech. They omitted his harsh attacks on the supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as his warning about a possible military attack on Iran. The website Dolat-e ma (our government), which strongly supports Ahmadinejad, published the entire speech.

The most important points were as follows.

* On his limitation to tell the people the truth:

Someone in my position of serving [the nation] as I do can only express 10 percent of his thoughts, and perhaps another 25 percent in the future; but cannot talk about the remaining 60 percent because there are more important [national] interests [that necessitate silence]. We have not come to this position to protect ourselves, but [to display] the flag and glory of the Islamic Republic. They [the opposition] say I have become perverted [or deviant in a more limited sense]. If the straight [non-deviant] path is what the opposition to the government is talking about, I was always a deviant and said that we reject what you say.

* On his rise to power in 2005:

In 2004 someone from [the present] opposition met with me and said that we were thinking about supporting another person for the Presidency [the elections for which were held in 2005], but realized that he cannot do it [because not qualified]. Are you ready [to run for president]? I said, 'Do you realize what you are saying? If someone from the ranks of people with bare feet [the poor] becomes the president, it will represent another revolution, and will end aristocracy, royalty, nepotism and embezzlement. Will you be able to tolerate that?'

* On poverty:

Without any advance planning I visited a village in South Khorasan province [on the border with Afghanistan in eastern Iran]. When we arrived, I wished that the earth would open up and devour me. We are in charge [of the nation] and [there is] so much poverty? Some are exploding because they have "eaten" [Persian slang, meaning stolen and embezzled] so much, and...

* On former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani:

They [supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei] have forgotten 2004 in which a man who did not have the courage to defend the martyrs had said that the era of Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] has ended [a reference to Rafsanjani who once made the proclamation] and has become part of the museum of history. No one uttered a word in protest.

* On NATO and Iran:

The West has mobilized all of its forces to attack and finish us. It is as clear as day that NATO is very thirsty [eager] to attack Iran. The conditions are not normal. We are approaching the final confrontation. It will not necessarily be a military one, but possibly political...We are reaching the height [of the confrontation]. If we are not prepared, we will suffer so greatly that we will be setback for 500 years. They [NATO] wanted to attack Syria. I told the secretary-general [of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon], tell them if they attack Syria, the entire region will explode.

* On the 2009 Presidential election:

There is no shortage of problems and dissatisfaction in the country. In the [presidential] election of 2009, 14 million voted for the opposition [Mir Hossein Mousavi]. We were saying the same things [as they were], but the people felt that they [the opposition] are not honest. Before the elections, through the Hezbollah guys who had penetrated their [Mousavi's and Mehdi Karroubi's] campaign, we became aware that a very complex movement wanted to topple [the system]. They had prepared [secret] houses for their teams, and even had weapons [even the hardliners and the judiciary have never made such allegations]. I warned the overseeing organs that they [the opposition] want to topple the government. On Thursday night [June 11, 2009] before the elections, I said, 'Whether we win or lose tomorrow, we will be out on the streets tomorrow.'

* On his opposition among the hardliners:

I was told in 2005 [after Ahmadinejad was elected President] that if I do not withdraw from the elections, they [opposition to him] will not allow me to work. After the elections I met with some of my competitors and told them that if they know any good people, they should introduce them to me to serve [in my administration]. One of them, Mr. Q. [presumably Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf who also ran for president in 2005], said, 'I have no one.' In my [first] cabinet of 21 Ministers [in 2005], 11 belonged to them [the opposition camp among the hardliners and conservatives]. Many of my supporters and friends protested to me [about the 11 ministers], but you must know that if I had not done that, they would have uprooted [my] government right at the beginning.

In 2009 many [in the opposition among the hardliner] were ready to congratulate them [Mousavi]. Ten percent of Tehran's votes were counted, which added 8000 votes to my tally [this is also unsubstantiated; no one has ever claimed this either].

They [supporters of Khamenei] are planning for the next presidential election [in 2013], but have hit a huge obstacle [to their plan] and that is the relation between the people and [my] government. The path that will continue [after] this administration does not reach them [Khamenei's supporters, meaning people will reject them]. They [Khamenei's supporters] have held many meetings to change the [high] esteem with which the public views this government and [came to the conclusion that], 'if we cannot elevate ourselves [to power], we will bring them [the government] down. One of them [Khamenei's supporter] protested to me [about not obeying Khamenei]. I told him, show me one case in which I did not follow the Leader's fatwa [religious edict]. He responded, the case of allowing women into sports arenas. I said, I asked the Leader for permission and he responded that I did not allow it in the past, but because you want to reform the country, I will allow it. Then, after the protests [by Khamanei's supporters], the Leader said this issue does not have priority. The same man said that [Esfandiar Rahim-] Mashaei has given money [bribed] to the Friday prayer Imams. I responded, first of all, I did it, not Mashaei. Second, bring just one Imam who has not asked for money. The Friday prayer Imams are in public view and need some resources.

* On the attempts to assassinate him:

I recognize the danger in my trips to provinces. Dozens of groups have wanted to assassinate me, but they were neutralized and arrested. [Abdolmalek] Rigi [leader of the terrorist group Jundallah who was arrested and executed in June 2010] said that they wanted to assassinate [Ahmadinejad] several times. But it's worth losing [to assassination] even ten presidents in order to preserve the popular base of the state, because the state's power emanates from the people.

* On Khamenei's supporters criticism of him:

They [supporters of Khamenei] say, 'you have become popular and [thus] your views are influential about the next president.' I asked, 'is [my popularity] due to my work or propaganda?' They say, 'work,' [to which] I responded, 'do you want me not to work?' At the same time, they accuse me of being both a member of Hojjatiyeh Society and a Bahai [a religious minority not recognized by Islam]. These two are contradictory [as Hojjatieyeh is anti-Bahai].

They [supporters of Khamenei] wanted to begin destruction [of the government] in November, but fortunately they began earlier. They accused the government of having links to geomancers. At the end, it turned out that geomancers have links with everyone, but the government. Then, I said, 'now that you have arrested all of them [his supporters], but do not have the courage to admit that you are wrong, at least say that the accusations made against the government were not true.' A judiciary official made accusations [against First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi that he was involved in embezzlement and financial irregularities], and the press said that it was meant to be Rahimi. I met with the Leader and told him if they can prove an iota of it to be true, I'll appear on national television, apologize to the people and resign. But they could not [prove it]. Then they said that Mashaei has embezzled $4 billion. I responded, 'you have all the documents and information on the bank accounts, prove it.' In the recent embezzlement case, the main thing happened in Bank Saderat. They forced the CEO of the Bank [Mohammad Jahromi] to say in an interview that the government was involved in the embezzlement. But all that had happened was that the CEO had approved a line of credit to the culprits in the embezzlement on July 3. They have arrested the deputy governor of the Central Bank, telling him that he did not do his job of overseeing [the banking system] and threw him in jail. He responded that he only oversees the directors [not the entire banking operations]. But when it is the CEO of Bank Saderat's turn [Jahromi], they say [it is not his fault], it happened in a branch of the bank. [Jahromi is a close relative of cleric and former Majles Speaker Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, who heads the inspection arm of the Supreme Leader's office.] The thief [culprit behind the embezzlement of nearly $3 billion] is in jail. They do not ask him about it, but question the deputy Governor of the Central Bank.

* On the embezzlement of nearly $3 billion:

When I realized that they [the embezzlers] want to found a bank, I told the [then] Central Bank Governor [Mahmoud Reza Khavari] that they have illegal support, investigate this and then cancel their permit [for founding a bank]. I know who supports them, but [I cannot name them publicly] this is a part of that 50-60 percent [of the issues that I cannot speak publicly about; see above].

* On the corruption of Khamenei's supporters:

They [Khamenei's supporters] thought that only 4-5 people support me. The next target [for arrest or pressure] is the oppressed [Mojtaba] Samareh Hashemi [Ahmadinejad's senior adviser and his classmate from their university days]. Can those who accuse us of being anti-Velayat-e Faghih [guardianship of the Islamic jusrist, Khamenei] announce [how much they have in] their bank accounts and [reveal] their assets? I announce my assets and belonging and publish them in the press. If anyone can identify anything else [other than what I announce], they can have it, on the condition that they [Khamenei's supporters] do the same and if someone found anything else [other than the announced assets], they can take possession of it. People's pain and dissatisfaction are due to their [Khamenei's supporters'] dirty work. Barefooted people from the lower strata of society have become billionaires [by dirt illegal work].

* On his relation with Khamenei:

[Once several months ago] I said that my relation with the Leader is like that of a son and a father, just as the Prophet said. Then, in a gathering they [Khamenei's supporters] said that the relation is like a landowner and his peasants. I told the dear Leader that with such friends he does not need enemies. When someone goes on vacation 2-3 months a year with his wallet [full of money] and has fun there all the time, and then [comes back and] claims to support the Leader, this is not in the Leader's interest and hurts him. The rights of many supporters of the government all over the country have been violated, and they [Khamenei's supporters] are after a new "sedition" [sedition is used by the hardliners to refer to the Green Movement].

* On the attempt to bring down his administration:

The man [not clear whom Ahmadinejad is talking about] is stupid. He says on [national] television that they [Ahmadinejad's supporters] have laundered money. Money laundering has a definition. It is money from narcotics and used for terrorism. I said, allow me to put these people [Khamenei's supporters] in their place in only for one month, using the Ahmadinejad method. Even if Europe and the U.S. work together, they cannot bring down this government, let alone these people [meaning Khamenei's supporters have no chance of bringing his government down].

* On a possible confrontation with Khamenei's supporters:

I visit the provinces to respond to our enemies through the people [through the crowds that show up to greet him]. Some events are under way and people must be present [ready] to respond to the enemy [it is not clear whether Ahmadinejad is referring to Khamenei's supporters or foreign powers].

* On the end of American empire:

So long as the American empire based in the White House has not been overthrown, we have work to do. This is a path with many twists and turns. It needs shrewdness.

* On the strength of his supporters:

A gentleman [supporter of Khamenei] was making extreme comments. One time he said these [Ahmadinejad and his supporters] are the greatest enemy [of Islam] since the time of the Prophet. The following week the same man said these people are nothing. I sent him a message saying that I was worried for him [for making totally contradictory statements]. If someone [presumably Khamenei] thinks that he has brought the administration to power, God will make him very unhappy and reveal that he was not the one [who brought this administration to power]. I swear to God that even if people view us as belonging to one of the last lines of pious people, we will still be so happy. In the Majles election [to be held in March 2012] people will vote for those who support the government. If we are allowed to speak [bluntly to the nation] for 30 minutes, the price of mouse's hole will go up [Persian slang meaning that if Ahmadinejad tells the nation the truth about his opposition, the opposition will become frightened and they will try to hide even in mouse holes].

* On corruption among Khamenei's supporters:

I gave the list of the financially corrupt people to the judiciary. They said this [list] is political. In the meeting with the heads of the other two branches of the political system [Majles Speaker Ali Larijani and judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani] I said, is this political? Should I publicly respond to this [accusation]? I asked the judiciary to seize the 700 hectares [1 hectare is 10,000 square meter] of land around Tehran that someone has taken over [illegally] and return it to the national treasury. If every square meter of the land is worth 100,000 toomans [about $80], it will be worth $600 million. [Ahmadinejad is talking about reports that a third Larijani brother, Mohammad Javad Larijani, has taken the land. A source who lives in that area confirmed these reports were credible.]

* On the accusation that he is a deviant or pervert:

I swear to God that we have deviated from you [Khamenei's supporters, a reference to Khamenei's supporters calling Ahmadinejad's group the "perverted" or "deviants"]. Are you the exact and original version of Islam [that we have deviated from]? I know what is going on. The day of remorse is close. Come forward and say that you have been wrong in accusing the government.

* On the controversial firing of former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki:

Mottaki was not my candidate for the post. When we attended the United Nations [annual meeting in September], 3-4 people whose appointment to diplomatic posts I was opposed to [but who had been appointed anyway on the orders of a higher authority or through their connections ] defected. In a meeting, which I cannot say who attended, the decision was made to replace him [Mottaki]. From the day that the decision was made we could not find him [Mottaki, to tell him that he should resign] because he was always traveling. [Finally] one day we found him and had a meeting. I told him, in my view you are no longer [Foreign] Minister. You can be appointed as the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran [and hence be] a vice president. He said that he is going to Senegal. I said, I did not ask you to go on this trip, because he never coordinated his trips with me. He said, I'll go to Senegal and will be back on Monday. I ordered to issue the order [for his removal] on Monday afternoon. Then I said to stop it momentarily because he had not returned, but they [his staff] said that it was too late, as the press had reported it. He had extended his meetings in Senegal and had even asked the Foreign Ministry to arrange other trips for him. But I cannot tell you who told me to remove him [Mottaki]. During the entire five years [that Mottaki was Foreign Minister], I ran the Foreign Ministry. He was not using the experts of the ministry.

* On the accusation that his diplomacy is weak:

They mess things up, and then ask me to correct things. That man [Nategh Nouri] writes in a newspaper that Bahrain belongs to Iran, go and take it over, and then they tell us that our diplomacy is weak.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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