Posted tagged ‘Rafsanjani’

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

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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.

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.

Iranian Hezbollah Organization Issues Threats Of Physical Harm Against Former Iranian Presidents Rafsanjani And Khatami, Calls On President Rohani To Cancel JCPOA

May 3, 2016

Iranian Hezbollah Organization Issues Threats Of Physical Harm Against Former Iranian Presidents Rafsanjani And Khatami, Calls On President Rohani To Cancel JCPOA, MEMRI, May 3, 2016

“Mr. President, you bear responsibility for every martyr whose blood has been spilled. If you look at all the breaches of promise and disruptions by ‘the Great Satan,’ America, and declare firmly that you are cancelling the JCPOA because of America’s violations [of it], history will never forget your heroic and revolutionary move; the heart of the Imam Mahdi will also rejoice because of you.

**************************

In an April 12, 2016 interview, Mahdi Abdi, the director of affairs for the northwestern provinces and towns for the coordination council of the fundamentalist organization Hezbollah Iran, which is affiliated with Iran’s ideological circles, warned leaders of Iran’s pragmatic camp, including Expediency Council chairman and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani and former president Mohammad Khatami, not to undermine the status of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The interview was published by the organization’s Hezbollah Press website.

Echoing Khamenei’s accusations of treason against Rafsanjani,[1] Abdi accused both Rafsanjani and Khatami of treason, and threatened them with physical harm. He also demanded that they stop calling for the release of the 2009 Green Protest leaders – former Majlis speaker Mehdi Karroubi and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, as well as Mousavi’s wife – who have been under house arrest since 2011.

Reminding Iranian President Hassan Rohani of what happened to Iranian officials who criticized Iran’s Islamic Revolution and the path of its founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Abdi warned him to neither trust the U.S. nor follow it, or to face the consequences. He also called on him to cancel the JCPOA.

The following are the main points of the interview. It should be noted that following its publication, the piece was removed from the website.

“This Is Hezbollah’s Final Warning To Hashemi [Rafsanjani] And The Grey Fox, [Former President] Mohammad Khatami, And To Anyone Who Even Thinks About Marginalizing The Imam Khamenei”

“The heart of [Iranian] Hezbollah is bleeding because of the tremendous disloyalty and the great treason of the unwise and two-faced [pragmatic camp leaders Rafsanjani and Rohani]. Imam Khamenei need not feel alone today because certain individuals who are betraying Islam and the Revolution are daring to boast and to express opinions in society, while others dare to speak about an end to the arrest of the hated leaders of the ‘2009 fitna’ [Mousavi and Karroubi]. [These traitors are] publishing [such statements] freely online and talking about it, and [expecting] the security apparatuses to remain silent.

“The hated leaders of the ‘fitna’ should thank God that they are under arrest. Otherwise, Hezbollah would not have given them a chance to breathe. This is Hezbollah’s final warning to Hashemi [Rafsanjani] and the grey fox, [former president] Mohammad Khatami, and to anyone who even thinks about marginalizing the Imam Khamenei, trampling the principles and foundations of the Islamic Revolution, and seeking to present the plan for a leadership council [as Rafsanjani recently proposed as a replacement for the position of Supreme Leader] in order to weaken the Rule of the Jurisprudent.

“If they are thinking of sparking more ‘fitna’ in Iran, Hezbollah will activate its popular punishment units, the ones called The Martyrs For the Revolution and Islam, and, once and for all, blind the eyes of the ‘fitna.'”

To President Rohani: “Hezbollah Obeys The Orders Of The Imam Khamenei And Will Never Allow These Things, Which Contradict Islam, To Be Carried Out In Iran”

“Mr. President [Rohani], many times the Koran called on Muslims to learn from history. We look at history today and see what became of those who trusted foreigners, especially those who trusted the bloodthirsty ‘Great Satan’ America. They all suffered harm, and ultimately ended up regretting having trusted America.

“If Islamic Iran wishes today to receive aid from the ‘arrogant nations,’ chiefly America, it must turn its back on the civilization of Islam and on the descendants of [Imam] Ali [that is, the Shi’ites] and must melt into their false civilization, must deny jihad, must abandon the oneness of God, and must enable them [i.e. the ‘arrogant nations’] to boycott Iran, using the human rights [issue] as an excuse. Or, much like the backwards Arab countries, [Iran] must hand over its interests and its oil in favor of the interests of the arrogance and of America, must back down from the explicit Koranic commandment about supporting the oppressed, and must form a friendly alliance with the occupying Israel.

“All the above contradict the original, noble civilization of Mohammad’s Islam. Hezbollah obeys the orders of the Imam Khamenei, and will never allow these things, which contradict Islam, to be carried out in Iran – because all the days are [the days of] Ashura [the Shi’ite days of mourning for the Imam Hossein who died in the Battle of Karbala in 680] and all the lands are [the lands of] Karbala – unless we lose our minds. Hezbollah will never forget all of this.

“Mr. President, tomorrow history will judge, and coming generations will ask: ‘Has the nation achieved anything from pouring concrete into the heart of Iran’s science [i.e. into the heavy water reactor in Arak, as required under the JCPOA]? Why do the officials still trust foreigners, although they repeatedly break their promises?’

“Mr. President, you bear responsibility for every martyr whose blood has been spilled. If you look at all the breaches of promise and disruptions by ‘the Great Satan,’ America, and declare firmly that you are cancelling the JCPOA because of America’s violations [of it], history will never forget your heroic and revolutionary move; the heart of the Imam Mahdi will also rejoice because of you.

“In the Islamic Republic [of Iran], the president, in his various terms of office, is legitimate so long as he truly believes, in thought and in action, in the rule of the jurisprudent. We must learn from history – from the fate of people such as [president Abolhassan] Bani Sadr [deposed in 1981] and [Ayatollah Hossein Ali] Montazeri [designated heir of Ayatollah Khomeini, who spent the latter years of his life under house arrest until his death in 2009], who trampled the line of [the rule of the jurisprudent], and were shamed and humiliated.”

Abdi concluded the interview by referring to a tweet by Rafsanjani about the current era as “an age of talks and not missiles”[2] and said: “It is enough to respond to Rafsanjani with a single word, and to say that had the Islamic State [ISIS] entered Iran and captured your daughter, you would have known the value of Iran’s missile and defense industry, and of the heroic deeds of the brave men of the IRGC.”

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6373, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part III: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Speaks Out Against Pragmatic Camp Leaders Rafsanjani, Rohani, April 5, 2016.

[2] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6373, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part III: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Speaks Out Against Pragmatic Camp Leaders Rafsanjani, Rohani, April 5, 2016.

 

Khamenei Criticizes Top Political Rivals: Favoring Talks over Missiles Constitutes Treason

April 4, 2016

Khamenei Criticizes Top Political Rivals: Favoring Talks over Missiles Constitutes Treason, MEMRITV via You Tube, April 4, 2016

According to the blurb posted beneath the video,

In two recent public speeches, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in a pointed reference to a Tweet made by Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani, said that those who say that today is an era of talks, not of missiles, are committing treason. Khamenei rejected President Rouhani’s call to instate an economic and cultural model – which he termed JCPOA 2, 3, and 4 – for the benefit of society, and said that this would constitute an abandonment of the principles of Islam and of the Islamic Revolution. He further criticized the U.S., saying: “the Americans have not upheld their commitments” in the JCPOA.

Fundamentalists and Revolutionary Guards steal Iran’s elections

February 26, 2016

Fundamentalists and Revolutionary Guards steal Iran’s elections, DEBKAfile, February 26, 2016

Rafsanjani_RouhaniOpposition leaders to Khamenei Hashemi Rafsanjani (l.) and President Hassan Rouhani

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Kerry fondly hoped that the nuclear agreement signed with Iran would bring to the surface a new type of leader – more liberal and less liable to restart the nuclear program – in the twin elections taking place in the Islamic Republic Friday, Feb. 26.

They are in for a disappointment, say DEBKAfile’s Iran analysts.

But one change is almost certain. The Iranian voter will be choosing for the first time on one day a new parliament (Majlis) and the Assembly of Experts, the only body competent to choose the republic’s next supreme leader. The incumbent, 75-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is not expected to outlast the four-year term of the next Assembly of Experts. He has been struggling with prostate cancer for more than five years. Treatment and surgery have failed to halt its spread to other parts of his body. And strong medication is necessary to keep him looking alert and vigorous in his public appearances.

Speculation is already rife in Tehran about who the next Assembly of Experts will choose as his successor.

Seen from the perspective of Iran’s Islamic regime, the supreme leader’s overarching duty is to continue the legacy of its revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor, Ali Khamenei.

Rather than meeting the expectations of the US president, his main job is to continue strengthening Iran on its path of religious extremism, ideological subversion, export of the Shiite revolution (by terror) and the continuation of the nuclear program.

The biggest political bombshell of the election campaign was a proposal by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to establish a national leadership council now, instead of choosing a new leader later. This was intended to replace the single dictatorial rule of the supreme leader by a collective leadership.

Iran’s fundamentalists, especially the powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), were in uproar about a proposal they viewed as so dangerous for the regime that they threatened to confiscate the Rafsanjani clan’s extensive property and put him on trial for corruption and fraud.

His beloved son Mahdi has already been in jail for months on those charges.

But Rafsanjani is not easily cowed. He knew that if he backed down, the extremists would crack down on him still harder.

So this week, he announced that he had pulled the strings which gave Hassan Rouhani victory in the last presidential election. And, in the campaign leading up to the Assembly of Experts vote, he threw his support behind a moderate cleric, Hassan Khomeini, who happens to be the grandson of the Islamic regime’s iconic founder.

The IRGC and radical mullahs thereupon launched an offensive to thwart what they believed to be Rafsanjani’s dangerous plan to establish a triumvirate with Rouhani and Khomeini Junior to head a future government.

Senior radical clerics, such as ayatollahs Ahama Alam-Alhoda, Mohammad Mesbah-Yazdi, Ahmad Jannati, and Mohammad Yazi, slandered him and fought to remove his candidates for the twin slates.

They branded the former president and members of a “reformist” list as British agents, a particularly malicious charge because the UK is still seen in Iran as a symbol of colonialism and meddler in foreign politics.

Ayatollah Khamenei himself harshly denounced “foreign agents” as “addicted to foreign influence,” who should be barred from the Assembly of Experts.

Young Khomenei saw the light and withdrew his candidacy for its membership. But Rafsanjani stood out to the last as a central figure in the two campaigns, even after a majority of the candidates condemned as “moderates and reformists” were barred from the elections.

In the end, the two slates were left with no more than 30 moderate candidates out of a total of 3,000 vying for the 375 seats in the two bodies.

Their defeat as a group was predestined, and the two elections leave Iran more politically and religiously radicalized than before.

A key figure expected to take center stage in the new parliament is Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, whose daughter is married to Khamenei’s mover-and-shaker son. Another is Haddad-Adel, one of Khamenei’s top advisers, who heads a faction of religious fundamentalists and IRGC officers. He is the frontrunner to succeed Ali Larijani as Speaker of the next Majlis.

They are all expected to gang up to prevent President Rouhani from running for a second term when it runs out in two years – contrary to the Obama administration’s hopes. They will also do their best to make him a lame duck and whipping boy for all the country’s economic ills for the remainder of his presidency.

He will find the new parliament less cooperative than the outgoing House under Larijani when he tries to introduce liberal policies.

Unofficial results of the two elections are expected to be released Friday night. The extremists and hardliners have engineered them so that they will win big and set Iran on a course that it is even more radical than before on such key issues as its nuclear weapons program and intervention in Syria and other Middle East conflicts. They will keep the feud with Saudi Arabia alive and pursue every possible means of venting their bottomless hatred of Israel and seeking its destruction.

Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA

December 11, 2015

Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, MEMRI, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon*, December 11, 2015

Introduction

In advance of the February 2016 elections in Iran for both the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts, and in light of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s November 25, 2015 announcement that he will run for the Assembly of Experts, the power struggle between the pragmatic camp, which Rafsanjani leads, and the ideological camp, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has intensified. It now centers on two main focal points:

  1. Khamenei’s blocking of Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA. After Khamenei halted the implementation of the JCPOA in his October 21, 2015 letter to Iranian President Hassan Rohani,[1] all the representatives of the regime announced their support for Khamenei’s instructions; even President Rohani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were compelled to do so. The only one to speak out against this was Rafsanjani, who called on the regime to carry out its obligations under the JCPOA.[2]
  2. The Iranian regime’s circling the wagons against both the “American enemy” and against the “new fitna” within Iran – that is, the Rafsanjani camp which is calling for openness vis-à-vis the U.S. and for Iran to implement the JCPOA.[3] The regime activity against the U.S. and the “new fitna” gives the ideological camp leverage over the pragmatic camp. The ideological camp is playing this up in advance of the elections and hinting that the outcome of the last presidential election, in 2013, was a grave failure that must not be allowed to happen again. The Khamenei-affiliated daily Kayhan is even preparing for the possibility that Rafsanjani’s pragmatic camp will again triumph in the elections, and stated that such a development would be counter to the Islamic Revolution and its values, and must be prevented.

This first report in a two-part series on the aspects of this power struggle will focus on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s blocking of Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA. The forthcoming report will focus on the Iranian regime’s promotion of its anti-U.S. stance and its stance against the “new fitna” within Iran.

MEMRI has published nearly two dozen reports on the power struggle between the Khamenei and Rafsanjani camps.   

Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA

On October 21, 2015, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued nine conditions countermanding the original language of the JCPOA as it was presented on July 14, 2015.[4] All regime officials, including pragmatic camp members such as President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, immediately announced their acceptance of Khamenei’s new conditions – except for Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the only one to speak out against Khamenei and called on Iran to implement its obligations under the JCPOA.[5]

Elements connected to the negotiating team and the Rafsanjani camp, among them Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Ali Akbar Salehi and Expediency Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, attempted to create the impression of first steps to implement the JCPOA by transferring older-generation centrifuges that were already inactive from one site to another.

However, they were stopped immediately by Majlis members and others from the ideological camp.[6]Negotiating team members from Rafsanjani’s pragmatic camp were forced to state that thus far, no active centrifuges had been dismantled. On November 25, 2015, nuclear negotiating team member and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian TV of the measures Iran had taken to meet its JCPOA commitments, saying that “none of Iran’s steps on this matter so far contradict the Leader’s letter… As far as I know, we are still in the phase of dismantling the inactive centrifuges.”[7]

On November 14, 2015, AEOI director Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian Channel 3 TV: “The centrifuges that were dismantled were not active and did not enrich uranium… Now, we are dealing with the dismantling of centrifuges, and we began this two weeks ago, according to the orders from the Office of the President that we have undertaken and to the timetable. At Fordo, there are a few centrifuges, that is, 1,000-2,000; at the last minute, we will collect some 1,000 centrifuges from Fordo. So far, no centrifuges from Fordo have been dismantled; we have merely prepared the ground for dismantling [centrifuges]. What has been dismantled so far were inactive centrifuges at Natanz.”[8]

On November 3, 2015, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said: “We will advance the work in a way that will be in accordance with the principles and guidelines of the Leader… Not a single centrifuge has been dismantled yet; at this point, we are at the preparatory stage.”[9] Several days later, he said that Iran would begin to dismantle active centrifuges immediately after the Iranian PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) dossier is closed by the IAEA Board of Governors,[10] explaining: “Now we are dismantling the inactive centrifuges; there are more of them than there are active centrifuges.” He noted that there are now only about 3,000 active  centrifuges and about 10,000 that have not been active for several years, and added: “The [active] centrifuges will be dismantled at the same time as [Iran carries out the steps to which it is obligated under the JCPOA at] the Arak reactor and as our enriched uranium is replaced with yellowcake.[11]

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif: The Superpowers Must Meet All Their Obligations Before Iran Implements Its Own

At a November 29, 2015 joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif stated that Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA could begin only after the IAEA Board of Governors closes Iran’s PMD dossier.[12] He then added a completely new demand: that the P5+1 carry out at least some of its obligations under the JCPOA even before Iran carries out its own. Zarif added that the Iranians were currently conducting talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other American officials on this matter.

Iran’s presentation of this demand is an essential violation of the language of the agreed version of the JCPOA, which states that Iran must first implement its part in order to reach Implementation Day, and that only then, and concurrently with IAEA verification that Iran has indeed met its obligations, will the P5+1 begin carrying out its obligations with regard to the sanctions.

The following are the main points of Zarif’s statements:

Asked what progress has been made with regard to Khamenei’s demand, in his letter to President Rohani, for a direct letter from Europe and the U.S. to Iran on the issue of the removal of the sanctions, he replied: “Europe and the U.S. are obligated to remove the sanctions the day the JCPOA is implemented – that is, the U.S. must carry out steps on the day of the decision – i.e. [by Implementation Day] the U.S. and the E.U. must carry out these steps in certain ways.

“The process of implementation by the oversight team has already begun. This does not mean that the action taken by the U.S. and the E.U., and which should yield results by Implementation Day, are sufficient. We believe that the U.S. must continue to implement steps until Implementation Day. The U.S. president has ordered the energy secretary, secretary of state, and commerce secretary to carry out their obligations, and that they take all steps necessary to implement the U.S.’s obligations. The President of the United States ordered them to carry out their obligations and that prior to Implementation Day [of the JCPOA] these obligations must be implemented. On this matter, we are holding talks with the American secretary of state and other American elements [emphasis added].”[13]

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[2] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015.

[3] This fitna and its members were described clearly by Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy committee member Ahmad Bakhshayesh: “The Leader speaks of [American] infiltration and warns the officials. The Leader’s [warning] was addressed mainly to elements of the regime wishing to create ties with the U.S…. In our country there are two lines of thought: One is resistance to the arrogance [meaning the U.S.], championed by the Leader; and the second is ties with the U.S. like with any other country without fear of infiltration, which is championed by Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Rohani.” Fars (Iran), November 15, 2015.

[4] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[5] For Rafsanjani’s statements, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Report No. 1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015. For Iran’s commitments, as outlined by the Arms Control Association, see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 65, MEMRI: ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’, October 30, 2015.

[6] See, for example, the statement by Alizera Zakani, head of the Majlis special committee to examine the JCPOA, who said that reducing the number of centrifuges at nuclear sites violated the first condition of Khamenei’s letter. According to him, this improper step triggered a warning, and subsequently the action was halted, at least at Fordo. Mehr (Iran), November 8, 2015.

[7] ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[8] IRNA (Iran), November 14, 2015.

[9] ISNA (Iran), November 3, 2015.

[10] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[11] Kayhan (Iran), November 11, 2015.

[12] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[13] ISNA (Iran), November 29, 2015.

Argentine Prosecutor Death in Iran Terror Case Gets Curiouser

January 23, 2015

Argentine Prosecutor Death in Iran Terror Case Gets Curiouser, Legal Insurrection, January 23, 2015

He documented enough of his charges that Interpol issued “red notices” for seven high-ranking Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Ali Velayati, who were Iran’s president and foreign minister respectively at the time of the AMIA bombing. (Interpol does not have the power to arrest, so a “red notice” is as close as it comes to issuing an arrest warrant) Rafsanjani, despite being implicated in an act of terrorism in another nation is often referred to as a “moderate” nowadays. He is also considered to be a mentor to Iran’s current president, also often referred to as a “moderate,” Hassan Rouhani.

Alberto Nisman’s work exposed the danger that Iran poses to world security. Iran continues to violate international law with impunity and unfortunately there are too few Nisman’s daring to challenge Iran’s brazen misbehavior. His death will make the task of reining in Iran’s ambitions that much more difficult.

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Sunday night Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found shot to death in his apartment. Nisman had been scheduled the following day to present his criminal complaint against Argentinian President  Cristina Fernández de Kirchner before a closed session of Argentina’s congress.

The initial claim (one made by Kirchner herself on her Facebook page) that Nisman committed suicide hardly seemed credible at the time. How many people would kill themselves before the high point of their careers? Nisman had spent ten years investigating the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires and now he was about to charge the president and other officials of his country with conspiring to cover up the Iranian involvement in that attack. (Now Kirchner says he was killed but “suggests that Nisman was murdered on the instructions of his foreign masters in order to create a scandal damaging to her and to her government.”)

Subsequent revelations during the week have made the claim of suicide even less credible now. At Business Insider, Armin Rosen recounted some of those revelations.

The lack of an exit wound suggested the fatal shot was fired at a further distance than Nisman could have managed had the wound been self-inflicted. His last WhatsApp was a photo of stacks of documentation related to the next day’s testimony and Nisman had apparently given his maid a grocery list for the following week. A 10-person government security detail was reportedly pulled off of his apartment the night of his assassination. Most damningly, there was no gunpowder residue found on Nisman’s hands, physical evidence that he didn’t discharge a firearm prior to his death.

Fausta has more, including some gleaned from the Spanish press. Notably despite earlier claims that Nisman’s apartment was locked from the inside, there are reports that there were two other ways into his apartment that were not locked. Fausta is also right that Nisman’s murder is all about Iran. (Rosen also wrote, “no matter who’s responsible for Nisman’s death, the Iranian regime benefits.”)

Nisman’s work on the AMIA case was invaluable in documenting Iran’s efforts to build a terror infrastructure in South America. Matt Levitt, an expert on Hezbollah, who recently published a book about the Iran-backed terror organization, wrote this week, “As I was writing my book, trying to navigate the convoluted details of the AMIA bombing and other Hezbollah plots, Nisman was an invaluable resource.”

Nisman’s work wasn’t just academic though. He documented enough of his charges that Interpol issued “red notices” for seven high-ranking Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Ali Velayati, who were Iran’s president and foreign minister respectively at the time of the AMIA bombing. (Interpol does not have the power to arrest, so a “red notice” is as close as it comes to issuing an arrest warrant) Rafsanjani, despite being implicated in an act of terrorism in another nation is often referred to as a “moderate” nowadays. He is also considered to be a mentor to Iran’s current president, also often referred to as a “moderate,” Hassan Rouhani.

The AMIA bombing was not the only time Iran’s leadership was implicated in an attack on foreign soil. In addition to Rafsanjani and Velayati, a red notice was issued for Ali Fallahian for the AMIA bombing. Rafsanjani, Velayati and Fallahian were all implicated in another terror attack on foreign soil.

A German prosecutor “without naming them … implicated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian” in the 1992 massacre at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin.

Iran’s revolutionary government is lawless. The Iranian actors in these foreign terror attackes weren’t rogue operators but members of the country’s political elite. It’s something to keep in mind when the Obama administration insists that it will make a nuclear agreement with Iran that will make everyone safer and more secure.

Even assuming the P5+1 nations can come to an agreement with Iran (an agreement is hardly a foregone conclusion, Iran would probably be very happy with a series of temporary agreements that free up billions and don’t force it to dismantle any element of their nuclear program), what grounds are there to trust Iran to keep its commitments?

Remember that the crisis with Iran over its nuclear program stems from Iran’s violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that it signed. Six UN Security Council resolutions – three of them unanimous – were passed imposing sanctions on Iran for its violations. Iran isn’t looking to come into compliance but to be granted absolution for its violations.

Alberto Nisman’s work exposed the danger that Iran poses to world security. Iran continues to violate international law with impunity and unfortunately there are too few Nisman’s daring to challenge Iran’s brazen misbehavior. His death will make the task of reining in Iran’s ambitions that much more difficult.