Archive for the ‘Iranian hardliners’ category

Iran’s Khamenei says won’t negotiate with West over regional presence

March 8, 2018

by reuters Thursday Mar 8, 2018 6:59am via The Foreign Desk

Source Link: Iran’s Khamenei says won’t negotiate with West over regional presence

{Nothing surprising here. Just a reminder of what we’re dealing with. – LS}

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran will not negotiate with the West over its presence in the Middle East, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, days after the visiting French foreign minister sought to discuss Tehran’s role in regional conflicts.

Jean-Yves Le Drian traveled to Tehran on Monday with a brief to reaffirm Europe’s support for a nuclear deal that opened Iran’s economy while echoing U.S. concern about Tehran’s missile program and its influence in the region.

“European countries come (to Tehran) and say we want to negotiate with Iran over its presence in the region. It is none of your business. It is our region. Why are you here?” Khamenei was quoted as saying by his official website.

Khamenei said Iran would only negotiate on that issue with other states in the region.

“We will negotiate with America, when we wanted to be present in America,” he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal unless three European signatories help “fix” the accord by forcing Iran to limit its sway in the Middle East and rein in its missile program.

French President Emmanuel Macron has criticized the program and raised the possibility of new sanctions.

Tehran supports Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the government’s war against rebel forces, including groups backed by the West, and is an ally of Israel’s enemy Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran: How Will Rafsanjani’s Death Affect Regime?

January 11, 2017

Iran: How Will Rafsanjani’s Death Affect Regime? Iran News Update, January 10, 2017

rafsanjani-750

In his January 10 article for Al-Arabiya,, Heshmat Alavi, political and rights activist who focuses on Iran, writes about the effect of senior cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s death by heart attack on Sunday, January 8, at the age of 82.

As Rafsanjani was known for his influential role in shaping the regime’s politics following the 1979 revolution, the Iranian regime was dealt a significant blow, and a power vacuum is created, less than four months prior to crucial presidential elections.

Rafsanjani’s role for the past 38 years helped maintain the regime’s measures of domestic crackdown, export of terrorism and extremism abroad, and their effort to obtain nuclear weapons, according to Alavi. 

“The death of Rafsanjani, one of the pillars of the religious fascism ruling Iran and its balance factor collapsed, and the regime in its entirety is closer now to its overthrow,” said Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

After Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Rafsanjani served as president from 1989 to 1997. He ran again for office again in 2005, but lost the election to firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In recent years, Rafsanjani has been mentoring the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, and was known for his fierce rivalry with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Although known for his close ties to the regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, who died in 1989, the West believed him to be a “pragmatic conservative” willing to mend fences with the outside world, especially the US.

Rafsanjani’s last post was head of the Expediency Council, a body assigned to resolve conflicts between the regime’s parliament (Majlis) and the Guardian Council, which has close links to Khamenei, and vets all candidates based on their loyalty to the establishment before any so-called elections. Rafsanjani himself was disqualified by the Guardian Council when he sought to participate in the 2013 elections as a “reformist” candidate.

Instead, Rafsanjani placed his power behind Rowhani after the latter assumed power as president in 2013.  Rafsanjani used this position to “carve himself and his family an economic empire from the country’s institutions and natural resources in the past decades,” writes Alavi.

“One brother headed the country’s largest copper mine; another took control of the state-owned TV network; a brother-in-law became governor of Kerman province, while a cousin runs an outfit that dominates Iran’s $400 million pistachio export business; a nephew and one of Rafsanjani’s sons took key positions in the Ministry of Oil; another son heads the Tehran Metro construction project (an estimated $700 million spent so far),” states a 2003 Forbes analysis, which also alludes to the billions cached in Swiss and Luxembourg bank accounts by the Rafsanjanis.

While the West was convinced that Rafsanjani was more moderate than his “hardline” counterparts, he went along with them in suppressing dissidents, namely members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition group that first blew the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

“Four rulings are a must for the [PMOI]: 1- Be killed. 2- Be hanged. 3- Arms and legs be amputated. 4- Be separated from society,” Rafsanjani said back in 1981. He also played a presiding role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners.

During his presidency, Rafsanjani allegedly directed numerous assassinations of dissidents abroad, including renowned human rights advocated Dr. Kazem Rajavi, former Iranian ambassador to Italy Mohammad Hossein Naghdi and Iranian Kurdish leader Abdulrahman Ghassemlou.  He was also indicted for his role in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires that left 85 killed and hundreds wounded.

Alavi writes, “Rafsanjani has through four decades of mullahs’ rule in Iran played the role of the regime’s No. 2 figure and a balancing element, always securing the regime’s higher interests. His death will significantly weaken the mullahs’ regime in its entirety and will trigger major upheavals across the regime’s hierarchy.”  He concludes by saying, “If past is any indication, the mullahs will most likely resort to further violence and the export of terrorism and extremism to prevent this newest crisis from spiraling out of control.”

The NCRI referred to Rafsanjani as “one of the two pillars and ‘key to the equilibrium’ of the Iranian regime,” adding that, “during his long career he was associated with some of the regime’s most egregious actions, including mass-casualty terror attacks and the assassinations of exiled dissidents.”

Rafsanjani is considered as one of its founding fathers of the Iranian regime, who played an outsized political role in the life of the Islamic republic, not only by serving as President after serving as Speaker of Parliament and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, but also heading two of the regime’s most important institutions, the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member body of top clerics which nominates the Supreme Leader; and the Expediency Council, a body that advises the Supreme Leader.

“Rafsanjani, who had always been the regime’s number two, acted as its balancing factor and played a decisive role in its preservation. Now, the regime will lose its internal and external equilibrium,” opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said in a statement that also referred to the “approaching overthrow” of the clerical regime.

On January 9 the NCRI published a list, outlining some of his outrageous conduct:

• Rafsanjani called for the extermination of members of Iran’s main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK). On October 3, 1981, the state-run Ettela’at daily wrote, “Referring to the grouplets’ operations, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Speaker of the Islamic Parliament and Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader, said in his sermon, ‘Divine law defines four sentences for them which must be carried out: 1 – kill them, 2 – hang them, 3 – cut off their arms and legs, 4 – banish them…‘Had we caught and executed 200 of them right after the Revolution, they would not have multiplied so much. If we don’t deal decisively with [Mojahedin] armed grouplet and agents of America and the Soviet Union today, in three years we will have to execute thousands of them instead of one thousand now…”

• According to Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former heir, Khomeini sought counsel on his decisions from just two individuals: Rafsanjani and current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, including his decision to issue a fatwa ordering the massacre of at least 30,000 political prisoners at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in the summer of 1988.

During Rafsanjani’s tenure as President and as head of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), a body that oversees and authorizes the regime’s terrorist operations, the assassination of Iranian dissidents abroad and the regime’s terror attacks skyrocketed. The terror targets were not only Iranians.

• Rafsanjani’s remarks on May 5, 1989 as carried by Iran’s official state news agency IRNA , and were reported by The Associated Press:: “If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine, they will kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans or Britons or Frenchmen, the Israelis could not continue to do these wrongs… It is not hard to kill Americans or Frenchmen. It is a bit difficult to Kill [Israelis]. But there are so many [Americans and Frenchmen] everywhere in the world.”

• Argentinian investigators implicated Rafsanjani in 2006, in one of the deadliest instances of Iranian terrorism abroad – a suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed in 1994.  The investigators accused Iran of instructing Hezbollah to carry out the bombing. They issued arrest warrants for Rafsanjani, seven other senior Iranians, and a Lebanese national, Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah terrorist chief.

Interpol, at Argentina’s request, issued red notices – the organization’s equivalent of arrest warrants – for five of the Iranians and Mughniyah.

• The FBI established undeniable evidence that Tehran had masterminded the deaths of 19 American servicemen, in the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996.

According to the NCRI, these are some of the most significant killings of prominent dissidents abroad during Rafsanjani’s tenure:

• In 1992, four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant called Mykonos were assassinated. A German court ruled in 1996 that the Iranian regime under Rafsanjani was directly responsible for the killings, which the U.S. State Department said provided further proof that Iran was a terrorist state.

• Maryam Rajavi’s brother-in-law, Kazem Rajavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – Iran’s most renowned human rights advocate and a former Iranian ambassador to the U.N. was shot dead near Geneva in 1990. Swiss investigators accused the Iranian regime of responsibility and authorities issued an arrest warrant for Rafsanjani’s intelligence minister, Ali Fallahian.

• Mohammad Hossein Naghdi, the NCRI representative in Rome, was shot dead on a street in the Italian capital in March 1993.

• Zahra Rajabi, the NCRI’s representative on refugee issues, was shot dead with an NCRI colleague in an Istanbul apartment in February 1996.

Rafsanjani was the one who pushed the Iranian clandestine nuclear weapons program forward as a guarantor of the regime’s survival. He cooperated with countries like North Korea to achieve these objectives.

Rafsanjani acknowledged that during his time as parliamentary speaker and President, both he and Khamenei sought ways to obtain a nuclear bomb in an interview published by the regime’s official state news agency IRNA on October 27, 2015. “Our basic doctrine was always a peaceful nuclear application, but it never left our mind that if one day we should be threatened and it was imperative, we should be able to go down the other path,” Rafsanjani said.  He added he had travelled to Pakistan to try to meet Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, who later helped North Korea to develop a bomb. Fortunately, the meeting never occurred.

Khamenei and IRGC’s Increasing Popularity

August 17, 2016

Khamenei and IRGC’s Increasing Popularity, Gatestone Institute, Majid Rafizadeh, August 17, 2016

♦ The same state-run media that shapes the Iranians’ views of the West also pushes them to favor hardline candidates.

♦ The new poll shows that Ayatollah Khamenei, his media outlets, and the Revolutionary Guards generals appear to be preparing the platform for a hardline President who will pull out of the nuclear agreement. The new poll also shows that so far their campaign has been successful.

The number of hardliners in Iran is on the rise, according to the latest poll. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, appears to be preparing the social base so that a hardline president would replace President Hassan Rouhani after the sanctions are lifted by foreign powers. Khamenei seems to be achieving this by using Iranian media to slander the West and improve the image of hardline politicians. Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appears to be getting ready to take Rouhani’s place, and is reportedly preparing his hardline platform to run in Iran’s 2017 presidential elections.

Rouhani’s popularity and standing are evidently not what they used to be. This seems to have come about largely because of changes in the economy. The overwhelming majority of Iranians believed in Rouhani’s economic promises when they elected him; after the nuclear deal was settled, 63% of Iranians believed that they would witness improvements in the economy and living standards within a year. However, a new report shows that 74% of Iranians said that there have been no economic improvements in the last year.

1545Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (left) appears to be preparing the social base so that a hardline president would replace President Hassan Rouhani (right).

A number of factors have slowed economic growth, including the high unemployment level, the state-owned and state-led economy, financial corruption at high levels, lack of an open market and business opportunities for the public, the increasing gap between the rich and poor, and the accumulation of wealth among the gilded circle in power and other major players — such as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the connected elite business class — who hold control over major socio-political and economic sectors of Iran.

The Iranian government has also not done all that it could to help improve conditions. For example, after the flimsy and incomplete nuclear agreement, the Obama Administration immediately began transferring billions of dollars to Iran’s Central Bank. One of the payments included $1.7 billion transferred in January 2016. Of this sum, $1.4 billion came from American taxpayers. Iran immediately increased its military budget by $1.5 billion from $15.6 billion to $17.1 billion, rather than investing it for creating jobs.

Khamenei has already begun his campaign of blaming the West for Iranian economic problems. He fails to acknowledge the true reason that Iranians are not benefiting from the lifting of sanctions. Instead, as is his method of operation, he blames the West so that he himself is never blamed or held accountable in the eyes of the public. He stated recently “Weren’t the supposed sanctions lifted to change the life of the people? Is any tangible effect seen in people’s life after six months?” Although Iran’s oil exports have reached pre-sanctions levels, and although Iran is freely doing business on the state level, Mr. Khamenei claimed in a speech that, “the U.S. Treasury… acts in such a way that big corporations, big institutions and big banks do not dare to come and deal with Iran.”

An official from the State Department said that Iran should not blame the US for companies not doing business with Iran. Most likely, large corporations are just not yet prepared to make deals with Iran.

Khamenei’s rhetoric has a significant impact on public opinion in Iran. According to a poll, 75% of Iranians believe that the U.S. is to blame for Iran’s stagnant economy. They believe that the U.S. has been creating obstacles to Iranian business with Western companies, and to Iran’s ability to fully rejoin the global financial system.

It is true that since the nuclear deal, Iran’s unemployment rate has increased from roughly 10.8% to 12%. During the course of Rouhani’s presidency, the unemployment rate has increased by two percent. The government has also cut subsidies.

It is possible that Iran’s problems trading with American corporations and rebuilding its economy are due to other Iranian leaders’ rhetoric, the Iranian state-owned media narratives, and lack of clear understanding of the terms of the nuclear agreement among the general public. Approximately 65% of the population still watch only Iran’s domestic news channels to gain information about the latest news in comparison to the 25.4% who use internet, and 18.2% who watch satellite television. Notably, the states viewed most unfavorably by the Iranian public are the Islamic State (97.6% very unfavorable), Saudi Arabia (81.3% very unfavorable), and the United States. The overwhelming majority of Iranians, roughly 80%, believe that it is very important that their country should continue developing its nuclear program.

The same state-run media that shapes the Iranians’ views of the West also pushes them to favor hardline candidates. The new poll reveals that former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s popularity is increasing. Ahmadinejad previously mentioned that he was retiring from politics, but the latest signs indicate that he is repositioning himself to lead the Islamic Republic again. During his presidency, people enjoyed subsidies on petrol, gas and electricity, and his government paid monthly cash handouts of approximately $17 to everyone. In the next presidential race, the poll shows that Ahmadinejad now trails Rouhani by only 8 percentage points compared to 27 points in May 2015.

Finally, another intriguing finding is that the person who has the highest level of respect, “very favorable,” among Iranians is General Qassem Soleimani, the head of IRGC-Qods Force (the external operations wing of the IRGC, which operates in foreign countries). His popularity has increased in the last year. This could be because he is portrayed by the Iranian media as the savior of the Shia in Iraq and Syria, a patriot, and the protector of Iranians from the Islamic State and other types of Sunni extremism. In general, the favorability of the high-profile, hardline and conservative politicians such as Muhammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Ali Larijani appears to have increased. These could threaten Rouhani’s reelection.

Khamenei, his media outlets, and the IRGC generals appear to be preparing the platform for a hardline President who will pull out of the nuclear agreement. The new poll also shows that so far, their campaign has been successful.

Congress ‘Disgusted’ With White House Lies on Iran ‘Ransom’ Payment

August 10, 2016

Congress ‘Disgusted’ With White House Lies on Iran ‘Ransom’ Payment, Washington Free Beacon, August 10, 2016

UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 28, 2016, to announce the Select Committee on Benghazi report on the 2012 attacks in Libya that killed four Americans. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

UNITED STATES – JUNE 28: Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Members of Congress expressed “disgust” with the White House this week and are demanding Obama administration officials come clean about the circumstances surrounding a $400 million cash payment to Iran that is widely perceived as a ransom for the recent release of U.S. hostages, according to conversations with multiple lawmakers and senior congressional sources.

Growing tensions between the White House and Congress came to a head following comments by White House spokesman Josh Earnest in which he compared Republican critics in Congress to Iranian regime hardliners.

Earnest’s comments came in response to multiple unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding the delivery of $400 million in cash to Iran ahead of the release of several U.S. hostages earlier this year.

When faced with questions about this cash exchange, White House officials such as Earnest have lashed out at Republican lawmakers for their continued efforts to unearth details about the so-called ransom payment.

“It sounds to me like they are once again in a position where they’re making the same argument as hardliners in Iran in an effort to undermine the Iran nuclear agreement,” Earnest said responding to questions from reporters about administration efforts to suppress key details about the cash payment.

“The president made clear a year ago that right-wingers in the United States were making common cause with right-wingers in the Iranian government,” Earnest added. “And, again, if they’re doing it again to try to justify their opposition to an agreement that has benefited the American people, they can do that, but I think that’s going to be pretty hard for them to explain.”

Asked about Earnest’s comments comparing Republicans to Iranian hardliners, a White House official said the spokesman’s comments speak for themselves and are in line with past remarks from the administration.

Earnest’s comment elicited a sharp response from leading GOP lawmakers, who said to the Washington Free Beaconthat Congress is “disgusted” with White House efforts to suppress vital information from the American public and malign Congress for performing its oversight duties.

“Josh Earnest should provide answers, not insults,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said to the Free Beacon. “The American people have grown disgusted with this type of politics.”

Pompeo has led several unsuccessful inquiries into the administration’s multiple cash payments to Iran, which have totaled more than $1.7 billion. In each case, the administration declined to provide Pompeo with the information he requested about the payment.

“The Obama administration needs to stop with the excuses and personal attacks and start providing truth on why the U.S. is delivering millions of dollars in pallets of cash to the Iranians and why the regime still has U.S. citizens hostage,” Pompeo said. “For Earnest to once again compare critics of the nuclear deal to the Ayatollah [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] is part of a tired and unconvincing press-manipulation playbook that his colleagues have already admitted to using.”

Other Republican critics of the nuclear deal and subsequent cash payments to Iran said to the Free Beacon that the White House is trampling on Americans’ right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent, particularly when it comes to Iran, which remains the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism.

“I can understand the rhetorical challenge of defending ransom payments to a state sponsor of terrorism, but still–these latest comments are just plain offensive,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a leading critic of the nuclear deal with Iran, said to the Free Beacon. “I’m deeply concerned about unmarked cargo planes secretly ferrying cash to Iran.”

Those concerns, Roskam added, “don’t put me in the same camp as radical clerics in the Islamic Republic–they put me in the same camp as the administration’s own Justice Department. These are the actions of an increasingly brazen, rogue regime–and I’m not talking about the one in Tehran.”

Since news first broke of the $400 million cash payment–which was delivered by the United States to Iran in an unmarked plane carrying pallets of hard currency–multiple lawmakers have initiated inquiries into the administration’s behavior, which some say is illegal under current sanctions against Iran.

While the White House, including President Obama, has insisted the exchange was not part of a ransom payment, Iranian officials have claimed otherwise. Iranian state-controlled television also has broadcast footage of what they claim is the cash delivered by the administration in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages.

“The Obama administration sent Iran $400 million in stone cold cash, and then the Iranians gloated about how they forced the U.S. to provide money which they immediately transferred to the Iranian military,” said one longtime congressional adviser who was not authorized to speak on record. “But the White House spokesperson says that Americans concerned about sending money to terrorists are just like Iranian hardliners. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so disgusting.”

A senior congressional aide who is familiar with congressional efforts to ascertain further details about the cash payment said to the Free Beacon that the administration has no good defense for its behavior, which is why top officials are resorting to blanket attacks on GOP lawmakers.

“The administration is once again resorting to its signature defense mechanism: demagogue the issue and accuse the other side of lying,” the source said. “The notion that only hardliners in both countries oppose the nuclear deal is demonstrably false and brazenly patronizing.”

“A strong bipartisan coalition in Congress voted to kill this dangerous agreement,” the official continued. “And this type of spin and demonizing rhetoric is exactly why a majority of Americans oppose the nuclear deal.”

Enforcing ‘God’s Commandments’: Heightened Mass Executions in Iran

June 17, 2016

Enforcing ‘God’s Commandments’: Heightened Mass Executions in Iran, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, June 17, 2016

hangings_in_iran

While the Obama administration is continuing its appeasement policies and romance with the ruling mullahs of Iran, the scale of executions has reached an unprecedented level. The Iranian regime is resorting to more and more mass executions. How is the Islamic Republic of Iran different from the Islamic State or those who commit terrorist acts by mass murdering people? 

Most recently, the ruling clerics of Iran hanged 16 people in one day in several cities, including in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) and Ghezel-Hessar prisons in Karaj (western part of Tehran) and Adelabad Prison in Shiraz (southern part of Iran).

One of those executed was 16 years old at time of allegedly committing a crime. President Obama, Hillary Clinton or the several European governments, which are following in the footsteps of the Obama administration, have issued no robust condemnation or criticism. These egregious human rights violations and acts of mass executions committed by a state — in the name of Islam — have been totally ignored.

Prior to the above-mentioned mass executions, the Iranian regime hanged 13 prisoners on May 17 in three cities of Yazd, Urmia and Mashhad. Twelve individuals were executed collectively. A few weeks ago, the Iranian regime executed five Kurdish rights activists in the northwestern city of Urmia. The five Kurds — Naji Kiwan, Ali Kurdian, Haidar Ramini, Nadir Muhamadi and Ruhman Rashidi — were hanged publicly on charges of “conspiring against the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Dara Natiq, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iran, said to ARA News, “The victims were human rights activists who used to document violations by Iranian security forces against civilians in the Kurdish city of Urmia.”Reportedly, the Iranian government executes approximately seven Kurdish civilians and activists every week.

The Iranian president has publicly endorsed the executions and described them as “God’s commandments” carried out under the “laws of the parliament that belong to the people.” What is more appalling is that the mainstream liberal media and the Obama administration depict the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, and his team as diplomatic, rational, and “moderate.” What definition of “moderate” politician means someone who endorses mass executions of human rights activists, political activists, children, innocent women, etc.?

So far, under the “moderate” presidency of Rouhani, more than 2,400 people, including men, women, and children, have been executed. As Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, pointed out, in spite of the arguments being made that Rouhani is a moderate figure “the overall situation has worsened” when it comes to human rights issues in the Islamic Republic.

In comparison to the executions being carried out in neighboring countries, Iran carried out 82 percent of the all executions in the region. As the Amnesty International pointed out in its latest report, “Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before…. Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded in the region.”

In addition, the Iranian regime continues to be the sole country that executes children. Amnesty International added, “Iran is also one of the world’s last executioners of juvenile offenders, in flagrant breach of international law. The country put to death at least four people who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they were convicted in 2015.”

The executions committed by the Iranian regime, which are being imposed by Sharia and Islamist law, can also be politically driven to preserve control over people and ensure the survival of the mullahs’ rule. There exists no doubt that the justifications for these executions do not meet any due process standard. People are often executed by a simple subjective order from a cleric who can make vague charges against the victims such as “enmity with Allah (God),” “ corruption on earth,” “war against Allah and the state,” and so on.

The international community has neglected Iran’s use of brute force to carry out these mass executions.

More fundamentally, the nuclear agreement and the Western appeasement policies towards Iran have increased Iran’s legitimacy. Consequently, this has emboldened and empowered the Iranian leaders and mullahs to more forcefully and effectively execute more people and to crack down on domestic opposition with brute force, without fearing international outcry, pressure, sanctions and condemnations.

Escalation In Political – And Perhaps Also Physical – Threats To Iranian Expediency Council Head Rafsanjani

June 8, 2016

Escalation In Political – And Perhaps Also Physical – Threats To Iranian Expediency Council Head Rafsanjani, MEMRI, June 8, 2016

In recent weeks, Iran’s ideological camp has stepped up its threats against pragmatic camp leader and Expediency Council chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani. The threats have included calls for prosecuting him – as it is, relatives of his are frequently imprisoned – and for defining him as a deviant, a traitor, and an accessory to, and torch-bearer today of, what the ideological camp terms “the 2009 fitna,” that is, the civil unrest following the presidential elections. It will be recalled that the leaders of this movement – former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and his wife, and former Majlis speaker Mehdi Karroubi – have been under house arrest since 2011.

When discussing Rafsanjani, ideological camp members’ statements are harsh, even violent.[1] This tone attests to the escalation in the regime’s antipathy towards the man considered to be the leader of the move towards openness vis-à-vis the U.S. and the West, which brought about the JCPOA – in contrast to the position of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who considers the U.S. to be an enemy that Iran must not come to terms with it. It should be mentioned that the ideological camp considers the JCPOA a tool used by the pragmatic camp and by the U.S. to remove it from power.

Rafsanjani is perceived by the ideological camp as an existential threat to its regime and as constantly undermining the foundation of its control of the country’s institutions.[2] The current struggle between the ideological and pragmatic camps, and particularly the personal struggle between these camps’ respective leaders, has been ongoing for at least three years, and is currently at a high point (see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1137, The Power Struggle Between Khamenei And His Camp And Rafsanjani And His Camp – Part XIV, January 21, 2015, and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5794, The Rafsanjani-Khamenei Struggle Escalates Into Open, Direct Confrontation, July 13, 2014).

Recently, Rafsanjani’s daughter Faezeh Hashemi was photographed meeting with a Baha’i activist with whom she had previously shared a prison cell. The meeting between the two women prompted the ideological camp to take immediate legal measures against Rafsanjani himself. The regime considers Bahaism to be a deviant and illegitimate cult, and its practitioners are persecuted and are denied civil and religious rights. It also considers Baha’is to be collaborators with Israel and the U.S. Although Rafsanjani distanced himself from his daughter’s actions, the ideological camp still considers them valid proof of his own treason.[3]

Due to the tremendous pressure on him, and the threats against him,[4] it appears that Rafsanjani had to relinquish his candidacy for head of the Assembly of Experts, even though he won the general elections for the assembly in February 2016.[5]

Even after his rival, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, was chosen to head the assembly, the attacks on Rafsanjani did not stop. The Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, published an article predicting the death of Rafsanjani, describing him as the pawn of the British and of the BBC. It added that since he was not chosen assembly head and can no longer serve the British, they no longer need him, and he would be more useful to them dead.[6]

In light of these developments, MEMRI assesses that the Iranian regime may no longer stop at harassing Rafsanjani’s relatives and associates,[7] and that there is a possibility that it will now move to harming Rafsanjani directly.

Following are threatening comments and actual threats made against Rafsanjani in recent days:

IRGC Commander Threatens Rafsanjani

On May 24, 2016, at a cadet graduation ceremony attended by Supreme Leader Khamenei, Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said: “Thanks to the Islamic Revolution and the awakening of mankind, monotheistic beliefs have spread in the region and in the world in this new age, and the garbage dump of Western culture has been set on the path of assured destruction. Nevertheless, some in the country who think a certain way are stealing glances at foreigners and speaking [highly] of the rotting values of Western cultures, in comparison with Iran’s noble religious values and culture.

“These [people] should know that the religious public in Iran, which is revolutionary and which nurtures martyrs, will not tolerate these thoughts, or those who have them, in Iran’s politics and culture. They must know that if they persist in their deviant path, they will meet with the same catastrophe as did those who preceded them in deviating from the straight path of the leader [Khamenei] and the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and who remain infamous in the memory of the Iranian nation.

“The IRGC and the Basij accompany the spirit of revolution and values of the great Iranian nation, and will never allow some of the infiltration camps that are influenced by the West, that can be found within the apparatuses of the regime, to carry out deceptions or to force their foolish view on, and tarnish, the blessed life of the Islamic Revolution.”[8]

Kayhan Editorial: “The Baha’i And The New Infiltrators”

The May 18, 2016 editorial of the daily Kayhan, titled “The Baha’i and the New Infiltrators,” stated: “Ms. What’s-her-name [Rafsanjani’s daughter] travels with ease to America and England. While a BBC Persia reporter encounters visa problems with America, this lady does not. A few days before the election, she travels to America. Why? Do not assume the worst. Maybe she simply craved a McDonald’s sandwich.

“In July 2012, she pops over to England, saying that she is going to the Olympic Games, but her lawyer says that she went to visit her son, who was studying there… Something happens and her brother also arrives in London, remaining for several years on the pretext of visiting a certain university. Later, there come reports that he was involved in stepping up the sanctions [on Iran] as fuel for the green fitna…

“After her recent visit with one of the leaders of the Zionist-Baha’i channel, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani expressed – in three lines, no more – that Faezeh had made a mistake and must rectify it. She said that she had made no mistake, and that she had no regrets… [and Rafsanjani] distanced himself from the Baha’i cult… [that is] crooked and colonialist and that joined the leaders of the fitna in a collective project…

“Is it now time for you [addressing Rafsanjani] to renounce Baha’ism… or is it time for you to renounce those who are an organic part of the Baha’i [i.e. your daughter]… They [the Baha’i] denied [the existence of] the Mahdi [the Hidden Imam]… and, in London, they operated a computer room for the Green Movement…

“What should be done about a camp lacking in all cultural, political, and economic honor, which engages in forming [spy] rings and [political] parties, and in amassing capital? …

“We are currently in all-out cultural, political, and economic war with the historic enemies of the Iranian nation… The enemy came to the arena without fear… We must understand what operation is being planned by the enemy, and come to the arena without delay and without pleasantries.”[9]

Basij Commander Attacks Rafsanjani

On May 16, 2016, Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi said: “Infiltration elements [meaning Rafsanjani] are amassing a fortune and creating [socioeconomic] classes, increasing poverty, and then pop up to express concern for the poor. These people are behind the unnecessary large-scale imports, and when [Iranian] companies go bankrupt and when national production grinds to a halt, they say we must facilitate relations with the foreigners and compromise with America so that our problems will be solved.

“They meet with Sunnis [referring to Rafsanjani’s past good relations with the Saudis] and create many expectations for them, and then approach a camp that has does not believe in Sunni-Shi’ite unity and collaborate with it against the regime.

“This group of infiltration elements sits down with the Baha’i at the expense of Islam, while at the same time asking, ‘What has the [Islamic] Revolution done for Islam?’ …

“This group calls Basij members extremists because they zealously defended Islam or because they shouted their criticism. Yet it recognizes America as good despite its evil, interprets its crimes favorably, and says that we must compromise and make friends with [the Americans].

“This group of infiltration elements is attempting to blur the difference between truth and lies, and to present someone else as the main enemy. For example, it has a plan to paint Saudi Arabia as the main enemy, while compromising with America and maintaining relations with it.”[10]

Judiciary Spokesman And Prosecutor General Criticizes Rafsanjani’s Daughter

On May 18, 2016, Judiciary spokesman and prosecutor-general Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i said: “Faezeh Hashemi’s meeting with a member of the Baha’i cult is an ugly and condemnable act. We will deal with her in accordance with the law. As per my understanding, many people, including senior clerics and other known figures, have condemned this act. Even uglier was that her father spoke about this but that she did not apologize.”[11]

Assembly Of Experts Member And Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Criticizes Rafsanjani’s Daughter

In an interview with the Tasnim news agency, which is close to the IRGC, Assembly of Experts member and Tehran Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said: “In fact, Baha’i is not a religion, but an espionage party. The world of arrogance has completely supported this espionage cult, and still does. A fatwa by all the ayatollahs regarding Baha’ism is clear and unequivocal – [according to this fatwa,] it is a deviant cult that is outside the Shi’a and must be treated as foreign.

“Recently, a certain political figure met one of the leaders of this cult. We must condemn any behavior that will cause a break in the barrier against relations with this devious cult. In the Islamic regime [of Iran], no one must bring about the revival of this hated cult, neither on the pretext of human rights or on any other [pretext]. Certainly, meeting with a member of this cult is complete deviation and cannot be acknowledged as just a mistake.”[12]

 

Endnotes:

[1] See, for example, statements by Combatant Clergy Assembly member Jafar Shajuni, who said that Rafsanjani and his relatives are “anti-revolutionary and burned.” Entekhab (Iran), May 18, 2016.

[2] See, for example, statements by Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Heshmatzadeh Harisi, who, defending Rafsanjani prior to the assembly’s election of a new chairman, said he was not a traitor and that he did not seek to harm the Islamic Revolution. He added that even if Rafsanjani were to be elected Assembly of Experts head, he would not have the authority to enact constitutional changes regarding the status of the supreme leader. Entekhab (Iran), May 18, 2016.

[3] Many regime clerics have issued fatwas against the Baha’i.

[4] Combatant Clergy Assembly member Jafar Shajuni said on May 18, 2016: “The chairmanship of the Assembly of Experts should not fall into the hands of anti-revolutionists. Rest assured that it will not fall into the hands of Rafsanjani.” Entekhab(Iran), May 18, 2016.

[5] The Assembly of Experts chairmanship was ultimately given to Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who also heads the Guardian Council, even though he received the fewest votes in the Tehran constituency in the general elections for the assembly.

[6] Tasnim (Iran), June 6, 2016.

[7] See Rafsanjani’s harsh response following negative reports by Iran’s broadcast authority on him and the Islamic Azad University, which he owns. ILNA (Iran), May 19, 2016.

[8] ILNA (Iran), May 24 2016.

[9] Kayhan (Iran), May 18, 2016.

[10] Mehr (Iran), May 16, 2016.

[11] ISNA (Iran), May 18, 2016.

[12] Tasnim (Iran), May 18, 2016.

How Hilary’s foreign policy ‘succeeded’ for Iran

June 4, 2016

How Hilary’s foreign policy ‘succeeded’ for Iran, DEBKAfile, June 4, 2016

6Hardline Ayatolla Ahmad Janati

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, declared Thursday June 2 in a major foreign policy address: ‘We are now safer than we were before this agreement (the International-Iran nuclear deal).”

A short while before her speech, the State Department, published its yearly report on world terror, and determined, as in past years, that Iran remains “the leading state sponsor of terrorism, on account of its support for designated terrorist groups and proxy militias in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.”

Three days earlier, on May 31, scientists at the Institute for Science and International Security, published an extensive analysis of the second report of the IAEA in Vienna, whose job it is to monitor the Iranian nuclear program and establish whether Tehran’s is complying with its commitments.

Their report is titled: IAEA’s Second JCPOA Report: Key Information Still Missing.

The American scientists found oversights in the international watchdog’s report, suggesting collaboration between the Obama administration and the IAEA to conceal Iranian violations.

The scientists offered some examples of these omissions:

Data is lacking on the number of centrifuges, including advanced models, operating in Natanz enrichment facilities as well as the Fordo underground plant. There is no information on what happened to the 20 percent-enriched uranium still remaining in Iran.

Another example is the lack of information on the Iran’s heavy water which is provisionally stored in Oman. Who does it belong to and who oversees it?

These are just a few examples of the blanks in the promised oversight over Iran’s nuclear program, not to mention Iran’s banned ballistic missile program which is geared to design missiles able to reach the US.

The Obama administration had based his detente with Tehran, capped by the nuclear deal, on producing a breakthrough in US-Iran relations. It was intended to strengthen the moderate, reformist and liberal political elements in Iran. ButDEBKAfile sources and Iranian experts report that the exact opposite happened, as is evident in two important elections held in Iran in the past two weeks.

In the elections to the Assembly of Experts, the body which chooses Iran’s top leader, the 91-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Janati was elected. He is one of the most extreme hardliners in Iran.

A few days later, Ali Larijani was re-elected as Speaker of the Iranian Parliament. Larijani is close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He won by a land slide over the reformist candidate put forward by President Hassan Rouhani.

Five months ago, when the first results of the Iranian elections to the Majlis and to the Assembly of Experts came in, there were cries of joys in the Obama administration. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad Zarif proclaimed it at the time a victory for the moderates.

Where did these ‘moderates’ disappear in the interim and how did they become supporters of the extremists?

On Friday, June 3, less than 24 hours after Clinton’s foreign policy speech, Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei celebrated his victory over American policy saying: Iran has many small and big enemies, but foremost among them are America and Britain. “Any cooperation with the US,” he stressed, “is an act against Iran’s independence.”