Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Supportive of “Effective President,” Again

Ayatollah Khamenei Comments at the Elm-va-San’at University

Ayatollah Khamenei’s presence at the Elm va San’at (Science and Industry) University, ‎was announced earlier, was so unexpected that some conservative media outlets received ‎news of the visit after the event. Iran’s supreme leader, who had cancelled his Saturday’s ‎visit to the University, came to the school after an eight-day delay to once again declare ‎his support for President Ahmadinejad among people who were brought to the forum ‎since the morning and from outside the university. ‎

Although in early December President Ahmadinejad’s Science Minister had announced ‎that ayatollah Khamenei would be visiting the University on December 7 which is ‎commemorated as Student’s Day in Iran as a step to “thwart conspiracies of certain anti-‎revolutionaries,” the meeting was cancelled and, contrary to the expectations of those ‎who thought that Khamenei would instead visit the University of Tehran, he in fact did ‎visit the Elm va Saanat University, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had studied thirty ‎years ago and lectured for some time as well. ‎

This issue became the pretext for the leader of Iran to dedicate a portion of his speech to ‎supporting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Defending Ahmadinejad by calling him a ‎‎“revolutionary, committed, effective, active and courageous” individual, ayatollah ‎Khamenei said, “The revered and timeless symbol of the holy defense [referring to the 8-‎year Iran-Iraq war] Hajj Ahmad Motevasselian as well as our revolutionary, committed, ‎effective, active and courageous President are among the prominent symbols of the Elm ‎va Saanat University’s alumni.” ‎

This follows a series of instances in which ayatollah Khemenei has expressed his support ‎for Ahmadinejad’s administration. Three months ago, coinciding with Government ‎Week, when some politicians pointed to the country’s tumultuous economic conditions ‎and criticized Ahmadinejad and his administration’s policies, Khamenei publicly ‎expressed his support for the administration during a meeting with cabinet members and ‎accused critics of “opposing the Islamic Republic regime.” ‎

Yesterday’s speech by Iran’s leader at the University was important in another respect as ‎he introduced his desired next president during the speech. ‎

In recent weeks, with increasing criticisms of the ninth administration’s performance ‎surfacing, conservatives, who are the administration’s main proponents, have announced ‎plans such as forming a national unity government to perhaps pass over Ahmadinejad in ‎that way. Nevertheless, yesterday’s speech by the supreme leader in support of ‎Ahmadinejad nullified any such plans. ‎

In his speech yesterday, Khamenei also sent messages to reformists, especially figures ‎such as Khatami who are considering whether to run for the presidency next year or step ‎aside. According to the supreme leader’s office, without referring to any by name, the ‎Khamenei called for courage and self-confidence among officials in “making clear the ‎principles that constitute the regime’s identity,” adding, “If one day, among the country’s ‎officials we find weak and impotent officials like Shah Sultan Hussein [an Iranian King ‎under whose rule the Afghans invaded the country’s capital], the era of this country and ‎the Islamic Republic is over, because weak and impotent officials turn courageous ‎nations into weak nations.” ‎

In a part of his speech, Khamenei apologized to students for being ill and having a weak ‎voice, saying to them, “Although I have been feeling ill for a few days, I did not want to ‎delay this meeting; I was eager to be present among you, students.”‎

The reaction of students present in the hall was obvious. According to Fars news agency, ‎‎“Students prayed for the supreme leader’s health at this point.” ‎

Monday, December 15, 2008

General Firouzabadi Attacks Larijani

Armed Forces Joint Staff Chief Threatens “Colluders”


The armed forces Joint Chief of Staff criticized the “faction in Majlis and administration colluding with America” and accused those who support relations with America of being enemy “infiltrators.”

Major General Seyyed Hasan Firouzabadi, who was speaking to the Joint Staff Chief generals, reacted to recent remarks by Ali Larijani indicating “reviewing possible responses to members of American Congress” by saying, “The danger that threatens the revolution today and at this juncture in time is that the Americans send messages and some people say here that we are reviewing messages from Americans.”

This military official, who received a “medal of independence” from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad two weeks earlier, added, “People who say these things are American infiltrators. The reformists said the same things too.”

What Major General Firouzabadi is criticizing in his interview are seeming attempts in recent weeks by several government officials to establish relations with the United States.

Eighth Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, though he has likened the president-elect of the United States in recent days to a “cowboy,” in several occasions he has discussed the letter authored by several American senators seeking to negotiate with members of the Iranian Majlis. Larijani said last week to IRNA that he is reviewing the letter of American senators to Iranian lawmakers, adding, “We have not yet responded because it is necessary for us to know around what issues these negotiations would revolve.”

Major General Firouzabadi is a military figure close to the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and among the handful of military icons who have preserved their position since Khamenei’s appointment to supreme leadership. Firouzabadi has served as the Islamic Republic’s Joint Staff Chief since 1368 (1990). The institution is the highest armed forces institution in Iran which is in charge of strategizing and managing all of Iran’s armed forces, including the army, the Revolutionary Guards and the State Security Forces.

Anti-Ahmadinejad Speech among Basijis

Ahmadinejad Supporters Criticize Student Basij Seminar

Influential criticisms by Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohsen Rezaei, Danesh-Jafari and Pour-Mohammadi of the Ahmadinejad administration’s economic policies during the seminar, “Privatization: Obstacles and Opportunities,” which was held by the Student Basij organization, has enraged the administration’s supporters.

Hashemi Rafsanjani said during the seminar, “The Supreme Leader requested from the Expediency Council in a clear letter to devise policies and strategies in connection with implementation of Article 44 of the Constitution [privatization]. In 2004, when we finished our work, the Supreme Leader approved very quickly… We said give us five years and the government will transfer 20 percent of factories and facilities under its ownership to the private sector every year, the Supreme Leader approved and signed… Another policy the Supreme Leader was more concerned about than us was the issue of dependency on oil. At that time he said that my dream is to celebrate the closure of the last oil well, so we devised a 10-year plan according to which every year the government reduces its dependence on oil by 10 percent.”

Hashemi Rafsanjani then added, “Five years have passed since that date. The big question that lingers is, how much has this been implemented? Our oil revenues that have been unprecedented in history, how have they been spent? Have we spent them on development? These questions are not related at all to political competitions. Here, we are talking about implementation of Supreme Leader’s policies and these questions must be answered clearly.”

In another part of his speech, noting the ninth administration’s slow pace of privatization and unaccounted for expenditure, Hashemi Rafsanjani asked of the Basijis, “You must ask what has happened to revenue generated from privatizing factories and government facilities? We hope that everything was conducted in accordance with law.”

Rafsanjani also asked the Basijis to pay more attention to issues related to Article 44: “The source of these policies is your Supreme Leader and you must feel the duty to implement them more than ever. Allah willing, you will not be accused of politicking and creating obstacles. Your stances are clear and you will not be accused of opposing the Supreme Leader’s orders.

During the seminar, when one member of the Student Basij accused the gathering o being political and asked Hashemi why no representative from the ninth administration was invited to the gathering to respond to the charges, Hashemi cleverly responded, “Really you should ask this of the administration, I cannot respond to this on their behalf. Head of all three branches must be held responsible when it comes to Article 44.”

Reacting to Hashemi Rafsanjani’s speech at the Student Basij seminar, Raja News website, affiliated with the administration, wrote, “The aforementioned seminar contains discussions and remarks that are devised and voiced only to oppose the Ahmadinejad administration, so much so that the suspicion was that this gathering was organized by reformist groups, but the reality is otherwise.”

Noting that “the gathering lacked responsible and measured leadership by the Basij,” Raja News concluded, “holding such gatherings with guest whose only motivation seems to be to blast and question the administration and its policies achieves nothing other than to destabilize the environment and question the performance and service of the present administration.”