Sunday, August 31, 2008

National Peace Council Begins Its Work

To Prevent War


Just two months after 72 Iranian pro-peace personalities signed a peace drive, the ‎founders of the National Peace Council held their second meeting. At the meeting, the ‎activists ratified the charter; the general assembly voted its executive operatives and ‎inspectors, thus officially launching the group.‎

Fifteen individuals were elected from the members of the general assembly to act as the ‎executive board which is mandated to run the group’s affairs, except those identified by ‎the general assembly. Hashem Aghajari, Babak Ahmadi, Habibollah Peyman, Jalal ‎Jalalizadeh, Taghi Rahmani, Issa Saharkhiz, Abdoll-FatahSoltani, Hossein Shah-‎Hosseini, Seyed-Ali Salehi, Keyvan Samimi, Abdollah Momeni, Hossein Mojahed, ‎Narges Mohammadi, Baizid Mardookhi, and Fatemeh Motamed-Aria were elected as the ‎members of the executive board, while five others, Hossein Akbari, Mohammad Sadegh-‎Rabani, Kurosh Zaeem, Soraya Aziz-Panah, and Parvin Kahzadi were elected as ‎substitute members.‎

In addition, Ezatollah Sahabi, Abbas Abdi and Dawood Hermidas-Bavand were elected ‎as the principal inspectors of the organization, while Mohammad Khaksari, and Jhila ‎Shariatpanahi were elected as substitute inspectors.‎

Issa Saharkhiz, a regular contributor to Rooz, and now a member of the executive board ‎of the Peace Council said that members to the group was open to anyone, regardless of ‎their political leanings, adding, “Anyone who is concerned about peace and is interested ‎in preventing the country from getting into one, can become a member.”‎

Last February as tensions between the US and Iran reached levels that had produced fears ‎that military action against Iran was a real possibility, Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s only Nobel ‎laureate announced the creation of a temporary peace committee and called on all Iranian ‎to participate in efforts to prevent such a war.‎

The Peace Council has set four goals for itself: the creation and strengthening of the ‎foundations for peace, human rights and continues development in Iran; preventing any ‎military, terrorist and violent action against Iran; activities to remove any sanctions ‎against Iran and prevent their strengthening, and; ending the atmosphere of ‘no war and ‎no peace’ that is in air.‎

The individuals forming this group include critics of the government, professional ‎journalists, commentators, women activists, former government officials, human rights ‎activists, lawyers, university academicians, and political activists.‎

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Tears of a Young Turk for Ahmadinejad

The President’s New Fable


Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who normally makes fantastic pronouncements ‎in the absence of the media and journalists, once again narrated a story from his recent ‎trip to Turkey during a speech that he delivered at a scientific seminar held in Iran.‎

Raja News website quoted some of the excerpts of Ahmadinejad’s talk at the gathering. ‎‎“Great pressures was exerted on the Turkish government for us not to go there, while ‎some inside Iran too questioned the necessity of this trip, citing loss of dignity and ‎respect for Iran if it participated. Probably the dignity of the Turkish government rests in ‎being a follower of the United States,” the website quoted the president.‎

Ahmadinejad said that while he was in Turkey, he attacked the United States and the ‎Zionists in the strongest possible terms in his interview, adding, “Even some of our ‎friends questioned why we used such aggressive language. I responded that people’s ‎fears had to be broken and that we must inject the aggressive spirit into people. We did ‎not just make accusations against our enemies, but took measured thoughtful steps ‎regarding them..”‎

Ahmadinejad claimed that during his trip as soon as he stepped out of his automobile at ‎some point, people began shouting Death to America, Death to Zionism. ‎

Regarding Turkey’s relations with Israel, Ahmadinejad said, “after a press interview with ‎the Turkish president, I went to the Friday congregational prayers and sat among the ‎people. A young Turk who was crying said to me, ‘you can look at God because you are ‎not ashamed, while we are ashamed because of our relations with the Zionists’. Our ‎national radio and television station could not broadcast the realities that exist there. We ‎broadcast 2-minute reports here while the Zionists broadcast 30 minute programs.”‎

Friends of the Iranian Revolution in the United States
Ahmadinejad’s talk at the scientific seminar was not limited to his trip to Turkey. ‎According to Fard website, Ahmadinejad made references to his last trip to Iraq and ‎despite the denials by the US military in Iraq, again claimed that, “While in Iraq the ‎commander of the airbase who is among the occupiers, came to visit me, as had been ‎arranged, and said that he was honored to meet me. ‘You and your nation have a place in ‎our hearts and we love the Iranians,’ he said.” The Americans had announced that the ‎driver of one of the base commanders had come face to face with Ahmadinejad at the ‎airport and had said hello to him.‎

On the even of his next trip to New York, Ahmadinejad once again made a reference to ‎his talk at Columbia University last year and said, “The American people have send ‎plenty of messages and apologies since my last trip to the United States and the events at ‎Columbia University in New York. During the trip, students from a high school wrote a ‎letter and said that they approved or our words and that ‘they’ (meaning Americans) lied ‎to them. Even though a heavy oppressive atmosphere rules over the US, but this has been ‎broken and a path has been opened and the message of the [Iranian] revolution has ‎entered the country in such a manner that even the elections rhetoric and slogans have ‎been impacted.”‎

During his talk, Ahmadinejad also made reference to South America and said, “A friend ‎who has recently returned from South America told me to keep an eye on South America ‎because there everyone loves Iran.”‎

Monday, August 25, 2008

Conservatists Peak Their Battles

Counter Punches by Allies of Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad
With the express public criticism of the administration by the head of the State ‎Expediency Council and also Experts Assembly on Leadership Hashemi Rafsanjani, and ‎follow-ups by his allies - which are now expressed without any “consideration” - the ‎state-run media have launched an intense counter attack against the two time president. ‎Sensing the battle to be getting out of control, the administration spokesperson asked ‎Rafsanjani to be friendlier towards Ahmadinejad’s government. ‎
Gholam-Hossein Elham, the administration’s spokesperson and who is also the ‎spokesperson for Iran’s judiciary sent a note to Hemat weekly magazine, which had ‎previously criticized Rafsanjani, in which he aired disapproval of the 2-time former ‎president and Majlis speaker. “Mr. Hashemi has made an interesting confession which is ‎that his look at Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government is that of an enemy’s, towards which he ‎has temporarily chosen to be “patient,” Elham writes.‎
The same note was also published this Sunday in Iran newspaper, the government’s ‎official outlet. This article said Rafsanjani’s attitude and words were worth reviewing and ‎asks the influential cleric, “Is it not better to be friendly rather than patient?”‎
Even though the differences that have been aired between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad ‎go back to the 2005 presidential elections that catapulted Ahmadinejad to the presidency, ‎Rafsanjani’s recent attacks have resulted in stronger counter-attacks by the president and ‎his allies. Two weeks ago while talking to businessmen and economists in Mashhad, ‎Rafsanjani said that the time for being patient with the ninth administration had passed. ‎‎“For three years we have been patient regarding the policies implementation of article 44 ‎of the constitution. When the ninth administration began its work, the esteemed supreme ‎leader had asked that we be patient with it for a period. We can now say that this period ‎has now ended,” Rafsanjani said. [Article 44 of Iran’s constitution identifies the ‎economic activities that the public, private and cooperative sectors shall engage in. Mr. ‎Rafsanjani has asserted that the government had not been observing this division as ‎required.]‎
These remarks brought about sharp and immediate rebuttals by Iran and Keyhan ‎newspapers (both run by editors appointed by the leader of the Islamic regime or the ‎administration), which called the move an “elections propaganda”. Iran’s next ‎presidential elections are scheduled for next year.‎
In related news, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the deputy Majlis speaker leaned to support ‎Rafsanjani in his remarks and said, “Hashemi has criticized the current administration for ‎forgetting the fourth development plan, the 20-year plan, and the absence of economic ‎policies, some of which we support.”‎
General seyed Hassan Firuzabadi, the chairman of Iran’s chiefs of staff also called for a ‎review of the administration’s policies during the “Government Week” and stressed, ‎‎“Review does not mean just looking at the good things and being appreciative. During ‎the Government Week, if deviations and weaknesses exist among state authorities or the ‎government’s allies they too must be reviewed, and the public-serving government must ‎take these into consideration.”‎
But the strongest support for Hashemi Rafsanjani came from Masih Mohajerani, the ‎managing editor of Jomhurie Eslami newspaper. He writes, “Those who believe that Mr. ‎Rafsanjani’s criticism of the government is not valid, should present their views with ‎logic rather than pouncing back or being disrespectful to him. For example, they should ‎provide their reasons to show that the administration has not deviated from the 20-year ‎plan, that the government has been observing article 44 of the constitution and has not ‎taken over all industries, that the price of chicken has not risen from 1,400 Toman to ‎‎3,000 Toman (a two-fold increase), the price of meat has not rise from 5,000 Toman to ‎‎10,000 Toman (a two-fold increase), rice has not risen from 1,000 Toman to 4,000 ‎Toman (a four-fold increase), the price of housing has not gone up 8-fold, the price of ‎detergent has not gone up from 350 Toman to 900 Toman, that we do not have blackouts, ‎or long gasoline lines, that there is no shortage of gas, etc.” [The exchange rate for a US ‎Dollar is about 800 Toman.]‎
In response to this, the government’s official newspaper Iran wrote, “It is noteworthy that ‎the managing editor of the newspaper [Jomhurie Eslami] who held various positions in ‎previous administrations, has been benefitting from being an advisor to the current ‎administration without being cooperative or active in it, and has received 14 million Rials ‎‎(approximately $1,750) per month as a senior advisor to the president until just recently.”‎
ShahabNews, a news website critical of the administration, wrote yesterday that Iran ‎newspaper’s article was a revengeful piece against the supporters of Hashemi Rafsanjani ‎and wrote, “Naturally Iran newspaper did not explain in its published article, if the story ‎‎[about Mohajerani] is true, that Mr. Mohajerani’s salary will now be stopped for ‎supporting Hashemi and is for writing a few critical pieces of the administration.”‎

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

President Ahmadinejad’s Brother Dismissed

Winds of Change Hit Home

‎As three new ministers joined Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, and the Majlis chatters ‎about summoning five other ministers, President Ahmadinejad’s brother Haj Davood ‎Ahmadinejad who hold various administrative positions including being the head of the ‎powerful the presidential inspectorate was removed from office last week.‎
Jame Jam newspaper quoted “a source inside the presidential office” that Davood ‎Ahmadinejad, the special presidential inspectorate had departed from his post. Similarly, ‎another news source Shahab news agency too quoted a source close to the administration ‎confirming the news and announced that the post of the presidential inspectorate had ‎been passed on to Sheikh-ol Islam, who currently is the chief of staff (or director) of the ‎president’s office, who will continue his current post as well.‎
When Ahmadinejad has presented his new choices for the three vacant cabinet posts, ‎there were rumors that some of his close aides were not happy with the nominees. This ‎included the president’s brother. The same source in Jame Jam – who did not wish to be ‎revealed and publicly named - had denied that Davood Ahmadinejad has been removed ‎because of his objections to the president’s proposed ministers, particularly Ali Kordan as ‎the minister of the interior, and added that, “Mr. Davood Ahmadinejad had himself ‎decided to leave the post of the presidential inspectorate.”‎
Jame Jam did not provide a reason for Davood Ahmadinejad’s departure, but another ‎website Shahab News gave health reasons for the change in guard. “Davood ‎Ahmadinejad personally requested to be relieved of his post because of personal issues ‎and on the recommendations of his doctors,” it wrote. The site did not provide any ‎medical reasons or possible health issues that the Davood may have.‎
As the pro-government media tried to portray that Davood Ahmadinejad left his post on ‎his own accord, other news sources have said that he was indeed removed from office by ‎others. Alborz website, for example, which used the term “removal”, wrote that the ‎president’s brother had been removed “because of differences with the president.” The ‎news site also promised to provide more details about this important cabinet-level change ‎in the near future.‎
Tabnak, another news website, close to former Passdaran Revolutionary Guards ‎commander Mohsen Rezai also wrote about a “Gap in the process of opening up”, as a ‎reference to the departure or dismissal of the president’s brother from his post. It ‎attributed the change directly to the differences between the two Ahmadinejad brothers.‎

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Presidential Aide is not Qualified

More Reactions to Mashaei’s Remarks

As the Majlis goes into its second summer recess, 200 representatives signed a statement ‎calling for the dismissal of president Ahmadinejad’s aide, Rahim Mashaei over his ‎remarks about friendship with the people of Israel.‎
The statement, which began with a quote by Mashaei, “We are friends with Israeli ‎people”, wrote “When these strange and unacceptable remarks which are in contradiction ‎to the principled policies of the Islamic republic and are in express opposition to the ‎position of the grand Imam (i.e. ayatollah Khomeini) and the current leader were made by ‎a deputy of the president Rahim Mashaei were made, it was thought that he had made a ‎political mistake which could be corrected through a rebuttal. But when the remarks were ‎followed up by “For the thousandth time and stronger than before I announce … “ a ‎serious warning bell was sounded in the regime which indicated an unacceptable ‎deviation regarding one of the most important foreign policy issues of the Islamic ‎republic of Iran.”‎
By asserting that the position of deputy president, which Mashaei holds, “belongs to the ‎entire population of Iran”, the law-makers stressed in their statement that Mashaei “did ‎not have the right to announce such a low and condemned position from a public tribune, ‎and in general he lacks the credentials to be in that post.”‎
The statement ends with a call by the deputies that president Ahmadinejad “condemn the ‎issue and deal with him (i.e. Mashaei) in a serious manner.”‎