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Entries in Islamic Coalition Party (2)


Iran: The Establishment Frets Over the Supreme Leader

Mr Verde is back, taking a long look at manoeuvres within the Iranian "establishment":

In recent weeks some members of the establishment (Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, Ayatollahs Ahmad Jannati and Ahmad Khatami, the Islamic Coaltion Party's Habibollah Asgaroladi, and recently Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi) have changed tack. The clerics and politicians had been accusing the post-election protestors and their leaders, specifically Iran's reformists, of trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic in collusion with the West.

However, in the last few weeks the talk from the establishment figures is about attacks on the Supreme Leader. There is hardly any mention of “barandazi” (overthrow of regime) these days. Instead, the words are of conspiracies to limit the power of or to remove the Leader. The declarations that Khamenei is the best possible Supreme Leader give the game away --- why make such declarations if no one doubts him?

Recently Mesbah Yazdi, a strong backer of President Ahamdinejad, was the alleged source of some strange comments about the principle of “velayat-e-faqih” (clerical authority). He was quoted as saying that the “velayat-e-faqih” does not need to be the most prominent “marja” (source of emulation). He supported this with the assertation that, at the time of the 1979 Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini was not the most prominent “marja”.

Although this might be seen as an indirect attack on Khomeini’s credibility --- it is well known that Khomeini and Mebah had serious disagreements --- the comment may be an attempt to argue in favor of Khamenei as “velayat-e-faqih”. Mesbah Yazdi has some religious credentials that Khamenei lacks, and his comments were reportedly to religious scholars at the Qom Seminary.

Mesbah Yazdi supposedly said that, although the Supreme Leader is chosen by God, if the people do not accept him, he should step aside. If true, this is a reversal of Mesbah Yazdi's previous statements that the “velayat-e-faqih” is chosen by God and the people’s opinion does not matter.

Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi are now referring to Khamenei’s statements with sarcasm and challenging him directly (although they are still not naming him). Earlier this year, Khamenei likened the regime to a rescue ship and said that some insiders are being left behind and the ship is sailing. Karroubi's response was to poke fun in his Nowruz message, likening the regime not to a ship but to a small dinghy full of unsavoury characters. Mousavi later added, "They say we have left the regime’s ship, well we have not left the ship of Islam", implying that the regime is no longer on the Islamic path.

So the question arises: are the recent changes in the speeches by the establishment figures an indication that Khamenei is facing problems from regime insiders and not just Mousavi, Karroubi, and other reformists over his credentials as Supreme Leader?

The Latest from Iran (26 April): Points of View

2030 GMT: Economy Watch. Mohammad Nabi-Habibi, the Secretary General of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, has said that the government has not had any major achievement in the privatization process: “Over the recent years, some works have been done to privatize the state-run organizations and strengthen the private sector, but the steps have not yielded any notable result so far."

NEW Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi “We Will Make The Nation Victorious”
NEW Iran: The Mousavi 4-Point Message "Who Defends the Islamic Republic?"
NEW Iran Exclusive: A Birthday Message to Detained Journalist Baghi from His Daughter
Iran Special: Tehran, Defender of Women’s Rights (P.S. Don’t Mention Boobquake
Iran: The Green Movement and the Labour Movement (Assadi)
Iran: Hyping the Threat from Tehran (Walt)
The Latest from Iran (25 April): Build-Up

2025 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Sama Nourani of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters has reportedly been released on bail.

2015 GMT: Our colleague Josh Shahryar has a new opinion piece at The Huffington Post, "Iranian Diaspora Needs to Act": "What the Green Movement urgently needs from the Iranian Diaspora, especially in the United States, is to come together and form a strong voice of political support for the cause of Iran's democratization - if not outright liberalization."

1525 GMT: Ahmadinejad "Look Over There!" Speaking to Iran's police officers, the President today denounced "satanic tools" of oppression.

This may have initially shocked his audience, but eventually it became clear that Ahmadinejad was not referring to them. Instead, his target was nuclear weapons, military invasions, and the veto power granted to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The President continued, "America belittles nations, and questions human values, whereas valuing humanity requires culture. Belittling nations only reaps inflexibility, distance, and malice."

1515 GMT: The Der Spiegel Profile of Karroubi (With a Bonus Surprise). The German magazine's piece on Mehdi Karroubi is now out --- it's more a portrayal than an interview --- and features the cleric's defiance, "The people are just waiting for a spark....I am prepared to accept all consequences."

The surprise,however, is not in the Karroubi material: to be honest, we've heard it before from the resolute opposition figure. Instead, the twist comes in an insert on another Presidential candidate, the "conservative" Mohsen Rezaei:
Does he see himself as an alternative to Ahmadinejad? The corners of Rezaei's mouth turn up in a slight smile: "I will serve my people where I can."

The retired general prefers to avoid critical questions, and seems intent on stirring his tea, as if the sugar could somehow solve his loyalty problems. Like Karroubi, Rezaei refers to "Dr. Ahmadinejad" and avoids using the word president. And like Karroubi the reformer, Rezaei the conservative says: "It can't go on like this."

1450 GMT: Over to You, Dr Rahnavard. And now it's Zahra Rahnavard putting out a declaration. She calls on the Government to free all imprisoned workers and teachers and to hold free and democratic elections.

1445 GMT: We have now posted a full English-translated version of Mehdi Karroubi's statement to former reformist members of Parliament, "We Will Make The Nation Victorious”.

1345 GMT: Karroubi Fights Back. Mehdi Karroubi's website Saham News carries a summary of his latest discussion with former reformist members of Parliament. The cleric, who had to deal with false rumours of his ill health last week, denounced the "new wave of psychological warfare" of the regime. He has promised that, despite this campaign, the opposition's resistance will only increase.
1245 GMT: Photo of the Day. Reformist leader and former Minister of the Interior Mostafa Tajzadeh is surrounded by supporters and well-wishers before his return to prison. Tajzadeh, who was on temporary release, was formally given a six-year sentence last week.

1000 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. The chief executive of the French oil company Total, Christophe de Margerie, said today that it will cease gasoline sales to Iran if the United States passes legislation to penalise fuel suppliers exporting to Tehran.

0925 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz's latest list of detainees has 2560 names. The website estimates that the total arrested since the June election is probably 18,000.

One of those detainees, journalist Mohammad Reza Yazdan-Panah has been indicted for "acting against national security".

0920 GMT: Stop Blogging. Now. RAHANA reports that Google-owned Blogger has been filtered in Iran.

0915 GMT: Economy Watch. Khabar Online posts some troubling figures for the Government, with a 4:1 imbalance between Iran's imports and its exports.

0855 GMT: Is the Government Rattled? There is a notable sharpness today in the attacks on opposition figures by pro-regime newspapers. Kayhan announces that even if former President Mohammad Khatami repents, people will not forgive him for his "sedition".

Resalat asserts that staff from the reformist sites Rah-e-Sabz and Balatarin, with former Minister Ataollah Mohajerani as intermediary, received money from British intelligence officials. The newspaper also "reports" that "the dumb Sheikh [Mehdi Karroubi] met with organisers of fitna [sedition], who proposed to restart this on the election anniversary" but that Mir Hossein Mousavi does not want a call for demonstrations.[

0845 GMT: Interpreting Human Rights. Leading reformist Nasrullah Torabi has drawn a lesson from Iran's withdrawal of its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, with its negative effects on Tehran's standing: the step confirms the news of Iran's human rights violations.

0843 GMT: Larijani Watch. Just because he is manoeuvring against the President does not mean Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has to go easy on the US --- indeed, because he is criticising Ahmadinejad, there is even more cause to take the tough line on Washington. In his latest speech, Larijani declared that "people will stand against the US with their lives". (sorry, misunderstanding, your IRGC has to do that ;-)

0838 GMT: Removing Mousavi. The new Constitution of the private group of Iranian universities, Islamic Azad University, has removed Mir Hossein Mousavi from the Board.

0835 GMT: Thanks for That, Ayatollah Khamenei. In his speech to Iran's police forces on Sunday, the Supreme Leader said that respect for people is necessary.

0830 GMT: Karroubi Watch. And while we're summarising Mir Hossein Mousavi's latest steps, Rah-e-Sabz offers Mehdi Karroubi's interview with Der Spiegel, in which he declared that he would be pursuing a demonstration "to protect our Constitution" on the anniversary of the election, 12 June, and called the Ahmadinejad Government a "disaster" for Iran. We're still waiting for the German version.

0825 GMT: Whipping the NGOs Into Shape. Mohammad Reza Alipour, the Deputy Tehran Police Commander, said on Saturday that the police intend to organize non-governmental organizations in a “centralized” way. Alipour explained, “The police’s concern is that there is insufficient supervision over citizen organization and in some of them there is administrative chaos….There is no oversight for issuing licenses for these organizations.”

0815 GMT: The Chinese Angle. Amidst the tangle of signals of Beijing on sanctions, oil imports from Iran, and trade, Mehr News Agency is upbeat:
Iranian and Chinese finance ministers met in the U.S. on Sunday and underlined plans to enhance economic ties and increase the mutual trade level to $20 billion. The Mehr News Agency reported that on the sidelines of the World Bank summit in Washington, Shamseddin Hosseni met Xie Xuren.

Hosseini pointed to Iran's immediate privatization policy and said that foreign companies, especially Chinese firms, can cooperate in the country's lucrative investment projects such as oil refineries and petrochemical plants.

Most of the cheerleading for the trade boost comes from the Iranian side, with the Chinese representative "expressing his satisfaction with the Iranian official's suggestions and noted that the two countries were in a reconstructing phase of their economies meant to benefit their nations".

So is Beijing really boosting its economic stake in Iran, just throwing up reassuring noises, or keeping all its economic and political options open?
0800 GMT: Interpreting Mousavi. With Mir Hossein Mousavi making a flurry of speeches this week, we've offered a quick analysis of his four key points, "Who Defends the Islamic Republic?"

0500 GMT: No significant shifts on the news front this morning. The Ahmadinejad Government has been relatively quiet. Speaker of Parliament Larijani continues his sniping at the President and his inner circle, but without making a significant move. Opposition figures such as Mousavi and Karroubi, with their statements, are signalling a build-up in activity, but plans have yet to emerge. And on the international front, the discussions on the nuclear front --- notably yesterday's encounter between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano --- still offer more the style of engagement rather than the substance of breakthrough.

A moment, therefore, to look at some points of view. There's an interchange on Press TV on the latest US Government steps on nuclear weapons which offers an opportunity to hear the thoughts of Tehran University students. There's a readers' discussion, sparked by a Tehran Bureau article on "Azeris and the Green Movement", on issues amongst Iran's ethnic groups and the dynamic with the national challenge to the Government. And there's our own readers' dialogue on the legitimacy of the 2009 election and the politics and "justice" beyond it.

And, for a personal point of view, there are the thoughts of Maryam, expressed in a letter to her father, journalist  Emad Baghi, as he celebrated his 48th birthday in Evin Prison on Sunday.