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Iran: Is the Challenge to the Regime Alive? Pressure on the Supreme Leader

The Latest from Iran (14 August): Just Another Prayer Day?

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KHAMENEIThe intrigues over the Karroubi-Rafsanjani initiative on detainee, in itself, is an uncertainty to dominate political discussion for days, but attention to it has hidden a second development that may be just as significant. We noted yesterday that an organisation representing hundreds of former members of Parliament had written Rafsanjani calling for ""reviews of the activities and performance of Iranian institutions, security and military forces, and the judicial system in recent events”.

That summary was crucially incomplete. The full translation is "to review of the activities and performance of all Iranian institutions that operate under the direct supervision of the Supreme Leader including security and military forces, and the judicial system during the recent events”.

There you have it. This would not just be an examination of the Iranian system but of Ayatollah Khamenei's actions and role within it. The letter bluntly states:
Contrary to other political systems that absolve their leadership from responsibility, in the Islamic Republic of Iran according to Law Number 107 of the Constitution the Supreme Leader is equal to any other citizen, and according to law the Supreme Leader must assume responsibility for his actions due to his Supreme Leadership.

According to Law Number 57, all three branches of government act under the Supreme Leader, we are therefore asking you as the head of the Assembly of Experts to ensure that the Assembly performs its duty as delineated by Law Number 111 and review of the activities and performance of all Iranian institutions that operate under the direct supervision of the supreme leader including security and military forces, and the judicial system during the recent events.

it is the invocation of "Law Number 111" that raises the red flag to Khamenei. The full text of the clause:
Whenever the Supreme Leader is unable to perform his duties or it is ascertained that he does not currently meet one of the conditions [for Leadership] in laws 5 and 109 (or it is demonstrated that he did not have these
conditions from the beginning) he can be set aside and it is the job of the Assembly of Experts to ascertain this issue.

OK, but these are just former members of Parliament, right? Well, consider a second development --- largely missed by the media --- that we noted last Wednesday and then highlighted in our first update yesterday. Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib, a member of the Assembly of Experts, called for an emergency meeting to review the political and legal situation. His statement was a blunt challenge to the performance of Ayatollah Khamenei, the equivalent of asking "Law Number 111" to be implemented.

I concluded yesterday, "Dastgheib’s more about keeping up pressure than raising the likelihood of a majority Assembly vote against the Iranian leadership." After the statement of the former MPs, however, an EA colleague asserts, "This is the greatest challenge to Khamenei ever."

I'm not ready to go that far yet. But as this crisis has already shown --- repeatedly --- ripples turn into waves.

Reader Comments (3)

[...] From Enduring America [...]

August 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPedestrian » Blog Archiv

It's striking that so many former MPs joined in this request. They provided an opening for a review by the Assembly of Experts, without it being framed as a personal vendetta, as would be the case if it came from Rafsanjani. Whether the Assembly chooses to walk through that door remains to be seen.

August 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

In the assembly of experts, it seems that there is not yet a majority voice to invoke article 111 of constitution, however there is an ever increasing voice of descent within it. Bear in mind that for the last 30 years the assembly has not even questioned the leader, or reviewed his performance ever yet alone invoke article 111.

However even if there is a hint that there is a majority in the assembly willing to review the performance of the leader, then I believe we will see tough reaction by the leader against such a move. This all is good strategy by rafsanjani, cause any reaction is sure further fuel for irrational behavior and lapse of judgment.

From a strategic point, this all helps Rafsanjani achieve his end game, of transferring much more power to the assembly and making it stronger, while all the while working to either make the leader a ceremonial role or a role conducted by a committee.

Overthrow of Khamanei is not in the cards, but converting it to a committee of three may be the best to hope for.

August 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwhereismyvote

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