Monday, October 20, 2008

Lowest Popularity Ratings for Ahmadinejad ‎

Results of New Surveys - 2008.10.21


While media outlets close to the administration have been attempting in recent weeks to ‎exaggerate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s popularity to be greater than ever before, the latest ‎survey conducted by the Islamic Republic Majlis Strategic Research Center demonstrates ‎that Iran’s president is not only suffering from very low popularity and approval ratings, ‎but also many of the participants in the survey regard his administration as a failure. ‎

Alborz news website reported yesterday that, according to a survey conducted by the ‎Majlis Strategic Resarch Center, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is suffering from his lowest ‎popularity ratings since being elected president in 2005. ‎

This website, which is affiliated with the right-wing faction, announced: “According to ‎another survey held jointly by the Ministry of Intelligence and the Islamic Republic of ‎Iran Broadcasting, 70 percent of the Iranian population are willing to vote for Seyyed ‎Mohammad Khatami if he runs in the upcoming presidential election while only 13 ‎percent of the population are willing for vote for Ahmadinejad again. ‎

The Alborz website did not explain how it accessed survey results. Nevertheless, the ‎website “triboon” alluded to the report, noting, “The survey was carried out in Tehran ‎and large cities showing that that Iranian president is suffering from extremely low ‎popularity rates among Iranians residing in these cities. According to survey results, 64 ‎percent of respondents to the question about how successful the Ahmadinejad ‎Administration has been rated the ninth administration’s performance below average. ‎More than 50 percent of respondents rated the administration as “unsuccessful” or ‎‎“highly unsuccessful.” ‎

Similarly, the news website Parsineh wrote regarding the Majlis Strategic Research ‎Center’s survey result: “In another part of this survey 78 percent of respondents described ‎the seventh Majlis’s supervision on the administration as ‘weal’ or ‘very weak.’ ‎Meanwhile, 83 percent of respondents to the survey responded negatively to whether they ‎would vote again for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and announced that they would not vote ‎again for the current president of the Islamic Republic.” ‎

More than 40 thousand people from various social, economic and educational ‎backgrounds ranging from pre-diploma to doctoral degrees participated in this survey. ‎


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tehran Police Chief Promoted

Radan Replaces Ahmadi-Moghaddam

An informed official in Iran’s policeforce revealed the promotion of Tehran Police Chief ‎Ahmad Reza Radan. According to this source, Radan is now promoted to be the deputy ‎chief of the National Security Forces.‎

Although several news sources including the news website "Asr-e Iran" in recent days ‎had predicted that Tehran’s Police Chief would be replaced, but unlike their prediction ‎which associated the change to Ahmad Reza Radan's insistence on the implementation of ‎plans to boost public security (very severe punishment of thugs in the public), it was later ‎revealed that Ahmad Reza Radan is not only not demoted, but is actually promoted for ‎‎"successful implementation of his duties" to serve as deputy chief of the national security ‎forces. ‎

General Mehdi Ahmadi, the communications director of the State Security Forces, told ‎the Fars news agency yesterday that effective Monday, Ahmad Reza Radan would ‎replace General Zolfaghari as deputy chief of the State Security Forces and General ‎Azizollah Rajabzadeh would replace Radan as the Tehran Police Chief. ‎

This police official did not reveal the details of personnel changes but noted that "General ‎Zolfaghari is attending university to continue his education" and for that reason Radan is ‎replacing him. ‎

Radan is among the members of the joint committee established by the police and ‎judiciary. Following several altercations that took place at the gas pumps in response to ‎rising gas prices, Radan, along with Tehran's Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi, ‎unveiled a plan to boos public security in Tehran and several provinces on the basis of ‎which many suspected individuals have been sentenced to prison time or execution in ‎recent months without due process. In the latest round of such executions, 29 individuals ‎were executed in Iran during one day last June. ‎

Radan’s promotion comes just a day after he insisted on continuing the plan to boost ‎public security. As reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency, noting that the "plan ‎to boost public security is not stoppable," Radan said, "The police would firmly and fully ‎confront thugs and gangsters, persons who disrespect women, drug traders and thieves." ‎

Associates of Ayatollah Montazeri Arrested

Following Public Criticism

‎Less than two weeks after grand ayatollah Montazeri spoke to a group of his followers on ‎the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr, celebrated at the end of the fasting month of Ramazan, in ‎which he criticized Iran’s rulers and the administration, pressures on him, his office and ‎his home have been growing. Soon after a member of his office, Mojtaba Lotfi was ‎arrested, the house of another associates, this time his son-in-law Mojtaba Feiz was ‎searched by agents from Qom’s intelligence bureau.‎

As has now been the practice, a public prayer session was held in the city of Qom under ‎the prayer leadership of ayatollah Ibrahim Amini last Wednesday on the occasion of Eid-‎al-Fitr. At the same time, grand ayatollah Montazeri, who also holds his own separate ‎public prayers for his followers, held his session in his office, which was attended by ‎several hundred individuals. After the congregational prayers, the cleric’s public talk ‎turned to a criticism of President Ahmadinejad’s government. Quoting the president from ‎a talk he had in New York that Iran was “the freest country in the world”, Montazeri ‎asked, “Why do your words not match your deeds inside the country. You call Iran the ‎freest country in the world when you are outside, but inside Iran you deprive us of our ‎basic and legal rights.”‎

‎“When someone like me who played a key role in the victory of the Islamic revolution ‎‎[of 1979] is treated in this [oppressive] fashion, while our buildings are confiscated and ‎our words are censored, you can imagine what they do the regular folks. If these ‎gentlemen [i.e. authorities and officials] know of these actions, and still claim to have ‎freedom, then you are doing the wrong thing. If you do not know what is going, then ‎things are even worse,” Montazeri continued, saying that he prayed to God to give reason ‎and thought to authorities so that what they say and do is based on reason and thought.‎

Some observers believe that because of Montazeri’s age, illness and large number of ‎followers, the regime no longer pursues a plan to suppress the senior cleric, but recent ‎days have demonstrated that measures continue to be taken by authorities against him. ‎Mojtaba Lotfi who was responsible for communications in the ayatollah’s office, was ‎arrested on orders from the special clerical court by agents from Qom’s intelligence ‎bureau, after the critical speech by the ayatollah. Following the arrest, Lotfi’s house was ‎searched.‎

Last week, the house of Mojtaba Feiz, the ayatollah’s son in law was searched as well, ‎but no arrests were made.‎

While some view the recent arrest and searches related to the ayatollah’s recent critical ‎comments about the administration and its policies, others associate the events to the ‎forthcoming presidential elections, and the visits of Montazeri by some reformist ‎presidential hopefuls. Montazeri has called on the reformers to unite in announcing their ‎presidential candidates and present a single nominee.‎

Karoubi Officially Announced Candidacy ‎

Announced at Press Conference

Although the reformists have not yet agreed on a single candidate to represent them in the ‎upcoming presidential election, yesterday former Majlis Speaker Mehdi Karoubi officially ‎announced his candidacy, only a few days after meeting with high-ranking clerics in the holy city ‎of Qom. ‎

Karoubi's press conference was held yesterday against the backdrop of varied reactions from the ‎reformists. Former president Khatami's interior minister, Mousavi Lari thought that "Karoubi and ‎Khatami's candidacy" were not connected, while Seyyed Mohammad Mousavi Khoiniha, the ‎central figure in the Majma'e Rowhaniyoon-e Mobarez [Association of Combatant Clerics], ‎described Khatami's presence as the "only way to save the nation." ‎

Sixth Majlis Speaker and current Secretary General of Etemad Melli political party, Mehdi ‎Karoubi officially announced yesterday in a press conference that he would run in the upcoming ‎presidential election in Iran. ‎

According to news agencies, responding to a question from a Fars news agency reporter, Mehdi ‎Karoubi said that his most serious opponent in the upcoming election is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ‎noting, "With respect to competing friends, up to this moment my serious opponent is Mr. ‎Ahmadinejad who is now the president and working. With respect to our own friends, meaning ‎reformist friends, I have not yet seen anyone coming forward for serious competition."‎

Commenting on the reception of his candidacy, Karoubi introduced his strategy of "silence," ‎adding, "If people say something against me and my friends I do not intend to defend myself, ‎even if newspapers write something against me, even if what they write is unfair, I intend to ‎remain fully silent." ‎

Karoubi faced reporters yesterday as he was clearly attempting to convey that his candidacy was ‎the reflection of wishes of many officials. Last week, after meetings that Karoubi held with ‎several prominent political figures, he traveled to Qom to meet with several high-ranking clerics. ‎Karoubi even said that he met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, though he ‎added that the meeting was part of normal proceedings observed during Khatami's time as well. ‎

Secretary General of Etemad Melli party paraphrased remarks of Ayatollah Khamenei, who ‎purportedly told Karoubi, "I won't tell anyone to come, nor would I tell them not to come, but if ‎you take issues into account and know the problems, and if you receive votes, I will cooperate ‎with you as I have done in the past." ‎

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ahmadinejad Should Not Run in the Race

Hezbollah of Iran:

After eliminating Ahmadinejad's name and adding names such as Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi, ‎Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, Hassan Rohani, Qalibaf, Mohsen Rezaei and Hossein Kanani-‎Moghaddam to its list of presidential candidates, the organization known as "Hezbollah Iran," ‎published a new list suggesting ministers for the tenth administration, ranking Ahmadinejad as ‎the third choice to head the ministry of roads! ‎

Coinciding with Ahmad Jannati's remarks about the forthcoming presidential elections in June ‎‎2009, the Hezbollah coalition, which is headed by Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi, yesterday ‎published a list which, according to the organization's officials, includes the names of possible ‎ministers in the tenth (next) administration. ‎

According to the organization's slate, the most suitable candidate for the tenth presidential ‎election in Iran is none other than the organization's secretary general, Mohammad Bagher ‎Kharrazi and, as reported by the Fararu news website, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini and Hassan ‎Rowhani are listed as the second and third choices for presidency. In addition, Qalibaf, Mohsen ‎Rezaei and Hossein Kanani-Moghaddam (secretary general of Hezbollah Iran) are listed as the ‎first to third choices for vice presidency. ‎

Another interesting point of the slate provided by Hezbollah is the mixture of various figures in ‎the tenth administration's cabinet, such that members of the country's various political factions ‎are present on the slate. ‎

Although nine months remain until the tenth presidential election, discussions among ‎Principalists (Osoolgarayan) on who should run for presidency are heating up and, although it is ‎expected that Ahmadinejad would be a major candidate of the faction, conflicting and at times ‎negative reports and remarks have been heard in recent days regarding his participation. ‎

Noting that Ahmadinejad is not the organization's candidate, Hossein Kanani-Moghaddam ‎announced on Monday, "The Hezbollah coalition strategic council's grassroots advice to Mr. ‎Ahmadinejad is not to run in the tenth presidential election." ‎

The head of Hezbollah coalition strategic council noted scandals associated with the ninth ‎administration, particularly in the past year, as reasons for the Hezbollah coalition strategic ‎council's decision not to include Ahmadinejad on its slate, adding, "Events that took place ‎toward the end of ninth administration's tenure, particularly in economic issues, central bank, ‎interior ministry, removal of certain individuals from cabinet and entrance of new individuals, ‎and issues arising especially with respect to the Palestinian issue are among controversies that ‎caused the strategic council not to consider the country's incumbent president as a candidate in ‎the tenth presidential election." ‎

Rasa Ghazinejad

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tensions over Central Bank Governor’s Dismissal Continue

MPs Warn the Administration

While the differences between Iran’s ex-Central Bank governor and the President were so ‎deep that Ahmadinejad could not even wait to return to Tehran to issue his dismissal of ‎governor Tahmaseb Mazaheri and replace him with Mahmoud Bahmani, which he did ‎from New York, there already are reports of differences in views between the President ‎and his newly appointed governor.‎

President Ahmadinejad kept Mazaheri as Central Bank governor for only one year and ‎when he replaced him it was to “streamline his economics team”, but the official Fars ‎news agency which had predicted Mazaheri’s dismissal weeks in advance, published ‎reports yesterday that Hossein Samsami may be appointed as the deputy governor of the ‎Central Bank of Iran (CBI).‎

Samsami is the nephew of Parviz Dawoodi, Iran’s first vice-president and while Fars ‎news agency conditioned the finalization of Samsami’s ascend at the CBI to a ‎‎“confirmation by the governor,” news reports indicate that Mazaheri is not keen on doing ‎this. Entekhab news website on Sunday quoted an “informed source” that vice-president ‎Dawoodi’s request to elevate Samsami to be governor Bahmani’s deputy has met a ‎hurdle as the newly appointed CBI chief is refraining from appointing him. The news site ‎concludes that with this level of opposition by Bahmani, his own status may be reduced ‎to that of a deputy at the CBI.‎

While it seems doubtful that President Ahmadinejad would rescind his newly appointed ‎CBI governor so quickly, Entekhab websites report indicates the regret of the cabinet in ‎appointing Bahmani to lead the bank. Contrary to public views, Bahmani as an architect ‎of the new policies at CBI is even more adamant on its implementation than his just ‎dismissed boss, i.e. governor Mazaheri. His resistance and relative independence in ‎dealing with Samsami so far has disarrayed the cabinet prompting it to think that the new ‎governor may actually not change course at the bank and its monetary policies after all.‎

As tensions at the CBI and over its policies and leadership continue at a time when the ‎official ILNA labor news agency reported that, “Some senior CBI directors had ‎submitted their resignations because of pressures at the Central Bank.” This news agency ‎too mentioned Dawoodi’s pressure on Bahmani over Samsami and wrote, “While Dr ‎Bahmani has refrained from accepting the pressures in this regard, but it is heard that ‎Samsami is already exerting his presence in all quarters of the bank. According to some ‎reports a group of CBI directors who had joined the bank recently have resigned in ‎protest to Samsami’s expanding control.”‎

The problems at the central bank have not remained confined to the presidency, the ‎cabinet and the bank, as the Majlis too has joined in the game. First, Majlis’ Research ‎Center which works under Tavakoli recently announced its expert opinion on CBI’s ‎controversial policy package which led to the downfall of governor Mazaheri, and on the ‎resolution of the economics commission of the cabinet. The center announced that, “The ‎government should not intervene in monetary and banking policy making.” Following ‎that, Majlis speaker Larijani actually criticized the change of guard at the CBI and said, ‎‎“It is not good that individuals be replaced or removed from office so quickly,” which is ‎a direct reference to the removal of the CBI governor.‎