Tehran, 24 Nov. (IPS) The verbal confrontation between the hard liners and the so-called “pragmatists” wings of the Iranian theocratic establishment reached last week un unprecedented level, after the fanatic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the officials and the press that backs him, redoubled attacks on Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Speaker of the Assembly of Experts and the virtual number two man of the regime and his close supporters.
The first salvo in the new round of infighting was shot in union by Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Government official spokesman and several pro Ahmadinjad media led the radical newspaper Keyhan, warning the former president of damaging revelations about cases of corruption involving himself, his family and his close entourage and friends.
“It’s quite longtime that the godfathers are warning that the nation is in danger. They are not wrong, but the situation is red for them, not the nation
The battery of assaults and accusations were concentrated at Mr. Mohammad Hoseyn Mousavian, a former ambassador to Germany and one of the senior nuclear negotiators under Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the former secretary of the Supreme council on National Security (SCNS) in charge of nuclear negotiations, accused of having passed to the British and Japanese secret atomic information. After having passed several weeks behind bar and paid a huge bail, Mr. Mousavian was eventually freed without being charged, waiting for his trial.
“It’s quite longtime that the godfathers, like someone standing on the fire, are warning that the nation is in danger, that the situation of our country is alarming, that conditions are worsening, and urge that in order to save the regime and improve the situation, one has create a grand national coalition … They are not wrong, they are experienced people, they know very well that the situation is red, but if the conditions are alarming and dangerous, it is their situation, not that of the nation or the regime”, Keyhan wrote, referring to the Chairman of the Expediency Council and his associates, like the former moderate president Mohammad Khatami.
After accusing former high-ranking officials of the Oil Ministry, SCNS, nuclear negotiators, lawmakers, directors and CEOs of local oil companies of signing contracts selling Iranian oil and natural gas to foreign firms at prices much bellow the international markets, passing highly classified information and data to enemies etc, the newspaper turns its canons on Mrs. Fa’ezeh Hashemi, the daughter of the Chairman of the Expediency Council and one of his sons, charging them with corruption, bribe-taking, paying “counter-revolutionary” publications, journalists, including one influential and known female reporter close to Mrs. Hashemi, and a cartoonists to ridicule Mr. Ahmadinejad and his Government.
Hard liners attacks on Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani was concetrated on Mr. Mousavian.
The attacks, reproduced mainly from articles published in Iranian blogs and websites outside Iran by groups on the payroll of the Government, were so vicious that even the Hojatoleslam Masiha Mohajeri, the Editor of the conservative newspaper Jomhouri Eslami, known to be close to Mr. Khamenehei, vigorously protested, urged the Judiciary to bring the President and other who make unproved accusations against people to proper courts to respond to accusations they spreads against their enemies and urged higher authorities to intervene, ending the confrontation between the two sides.
Though it is not the first time that this paper, which used to belong to Mr. Khamenehei, attacks Mr. Ahmadinejad for his endless repetition of the nuclear question, but observers noted that it is the first time that Jomhouri Eslami (Islamic Republic) calls on the Judiciary to “come to the rescue of people who are accused by irresponsible men and media, by arresting and judging those who indulges in slanders against other people without proving the libels”.
Under the title of “What Guilt People Have Committed?”, the paper indirectly refers to the accusations of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his supporters against Mr. Moussavian and calls on the Judiciary to defend the honnour of people against slanders, writing: “It is the duty of the Judiciary to defend people against accusations, slanders, calumnies by taking the culprits, regardless of their ranks or position or responsibilities, to court, offering them the chance of proving their slanders or being sentenced for unfounded accusations, disturbing public order, confusing public opinion and endangering the security of the nation. This is what the people are expecting from their Judiciary”.
For his part, Mr. Rohani, responding to the vitriolic attacks of Mr. Ahmadinejad against the Speaker of the Experts Assembly and former officials, described such accusations as “cutting the head of a suspect before even trying him”. It was also interesting to note that before him, Hojjatoleslam Do’agou, the Friday Preacher of the Shemiranat, the posh northern suburb of the Capital where live most of the regime’s high-ranking clerics, including Mr. Khamenehei, a man who is reported to be closer to the hard liners than the pragmatics, also accused Ahmadinejad of “confiscating under his name the nuclear train that was launched by Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and accelerated under his successor”.
The battery of assaults and accusations were concentrated at Mr. Mohammad Hoseyn Mousavian, a former ambassador to Germany and one of the senior nuclear negotiators under Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani
While officials from the Judiciary and, surprisingly, the Intelligence Minister refused to confirm charges against Mr. Mousavian, the Interior Minister and websites supporting the President, entered the arena, repeated old espionage charges against him, accusations that if proved correct, can carry death penalty.
“Accusing anyone of criminal charges like espionage before he or she is officially convinced by a proper court is itself a criminal charge and those who make such unfounded accusations must be tried, for, according to our Constitution, all people are innocent unless convinced by adequate courts, the only instance that has the power and the right to say who is guilty and who is not. As far as we are concerned, we are waiting for the decision of the Judiciary concerning Mr. Mousavian”, the former secretary of the SCNS and top nuclear negotiator stressed, in defence of his former aid responsibilities.
Going further, he reminded Mr. Ahmadinejad that as the Head of the Executive, he had no right to interfere with the Judiciary’s responsibilities, and, turning to the Interior Minister, he told him “Interior Ministry is like the Police or the Gendarmerie. Can a policeman make the work of a judge, passing judgment on people he has arrested? Such decisions belong to the Judiciary, not the Executive”, Mr. Rohani recommended, challenging Mr. Ahmadinejad to publish the list of people he accuses of espionage, bribe-taking, corruption and intelligence with the enemies.
Touching on the nuclear issue, the Head of the Expediency Council’s Centre for Strategic Studies advised the belliquous Ahmadinejad to be “more compromising” and do not consider every one, every nation as an enemy. “Who carried the responsibilities of the War (against Iraq) if not the same people you accuse of everything? Who conducted the nations during the darkest period under the guidelines of the Great Leader. Why always thinking of eliminating instead of making friends. Why insisting of governing the country with a few yes men instead of the competence of so many experts we have in every field?’, he asked.
Rejecting Ahmadninejad’s repeated insistence that Iran’s nuclear issue “is over” and United Nations Security Council’s resolutions on Iran “worthless pieces of paper”, observing that in his latest report on Iranian nuclear controversy, Mr. Mohammad ElBaradei, the General Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency has stated that though he is statisfid with Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA, but he cannot confirm for certain that Iran is not after nuclear weapon, meaning that the issue is still open and on the table.
Like the former Shah, Ayatollah Khamenehi take pleasure to see his entourage demolishing each other.
What also interests most observer sis the ambiguous attitude of Mr. Khamenehei. Like the former King of Iran, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was dethroned in 1979 by the Islamic Revolution, the megalomaniac Leader of the Islamic Republic likes to see his entourage and courtisans, all owning their situations and positions to him, denounce and demolish each other.
Khamenehei helped Ahmadinejad to become president, but gave more power to Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani to control him. He let the new nuclear negotiators to belittle and insult the former team, but named their top man, Mr. Rohani, as his personal representative at the SCNS. He allows Mr. Hoseyn Shari’atmadari, an interrogator of political and intellectual dissidents whom he appointed as the Editor of Keyhan, nicknamed as Khamenehei’s Goebbels, make the worse accusations and slanders against the former president, considered his closest friend and comrade in arms, the man who, after the death of the Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini in 1989, pushed the Assembly of Experts to name Khamenehei as the new Leader – a decision he certainly regretted afterward --, but at the same time he let another of his mouthpieces, Jomhouri Eslami, to tell the President to shut up and behave as a reasonable, grown man.
“Ahmadninejad and his gang are well aware of the fact that in case they fail to hit very hard at Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani as the heart and blood of the pragmatists, their bitter enemies, not only they would lose the next presidential elections, but also end in disgrace, if not in jail. They also think that Mr. Khamenehei would not cry in case accusations against Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani or his immediate associates like Mr. Moussavian are substantiated and confirmed”, one Iranian journalist told Iran Press Service, adding:
“Round one ended with the victory of the pragmatists whom, encouraged by the support they got from other influential clerics, are calling on the Judiciary to try the President for slanders. Even if Ayatollah Khamenehei whistles a truce, it would be short lived, because for Ahmadinejad and his backers, it is a question of survival. One way or another, they have to devise their revenge, by proving that their accusations are based on facts”. ENDS INFIGHTINGS 241107