Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Will the ghosts go unleashed?

Rafsanjani says he is still undecided as to whether or not run for the elections. He says that he wishes that "competent, able, and virtuous people" come forward. If this happens, then he will no longer be "worried" and will not have to nominate himself.
Rafsanjani was first 'elected' as Iran's president in 1989. Before, he had served as Majlis (Iran's parliament) speaker. The 1989 election was not more than a show -as was the case in all but one (1979) previous presidential elections. Rafsanjani's only opponent was Dr Abbas Sheybani (a Majlis PM) who was simply put there so that the election would not seem too fake. Rafsanjani 'won' the majority of the votes. To my memory, Sheybani won only 3000 votes!!
In this way, Rafsanjani rose into the second most powerful position. However he was seen as the most powerful man in Iran. Hence the nickname "Akbar Shah" which implied Rafsanjani's ambitious personality: an unknown man, an ordinary talabeh, whose rise to power owed much to the elimination of a number of key figures in Iranian politics: Motahhari, Beheshti, Mofatteh, Montazeri, and, on top of all, Ayatollah Khomeini, who had died just a few weeks before the election in 1989.
How did Khomeini's death help Rafsanjani reach to the status of the most powerful man in Iran? I shall discuss it in more details later. But for now let me just deal with a hugely overlooked question: did Khomeini really die of cancer as it was reported by officials? My answer is NO! Khomeini did not even suffer from cancer. There are a few people who would, if they could, testify to the truth of my claim: Dr Iraj Fazel (the chief surgeon of the operation on Khomeini in May 1989), Dr Hasan Arefi, Dr Mohammad Reza Zafar Ghandi (now the head of Tehran University's School of Medicine) and a few others. Surprisingly, however, the medical case of Khomeini has never been discussed anywhere. It has never been put forward for scientific discussion in any conference or seminar. What type of cancer was Khomeini suffering from? According to the most referred account, he died of prostate cancer (another account says he died of heart attack after the operation). But let's not forget that Khomeini was under constant medical examination, so it could be easily detected and treated before getting to a stage that its spread would get out of control.
Why would someone from Khomeini's few confidantes want to kill him? What happened to those who knew about the plot for killing the Ayatollah? Did Khamnei know about the plot? Why didn't he say anything about it then? Does he fear his own life now? What is Rafsanjani's serious concern these days?

I will answer these questions in my future postings.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mostafa Moein (ISNA) Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Will the GC let Moein run for elections?

The Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) is not yet fully certain as to whether Mostafa Moein can get through the Guardian Council filter. The head of Moein's campaign, Ali Shakouri Rad is reported as saying that "there is no reason for Moein to be disqualified by the GC". However, Moein's supporters are well aware of the fact that the GC never needs a 'reason' to disqualify a potential candidate. We have not forgotten that the GC did not offer any reason when it disqualified hundreds of 'moderates', many of whom had affiliations with the IIPF, in the last parliamentary elections. This concern is implicit in what Shakouri Rad said yesterday: "before the Leader announcing the maximum participation strategy [...], there was a suspicion [i.e. we were concerned] as to whether the GC would act in the same way as it had during the seventh parliamentary elections, but now after such a strategy has been brought up, disqualification of major candidates will be seen as a damage to that strategy". In other words, we are still concerned but at least this time we have the words of the Leader to rely on in arguing against probable disqualifications.
In fact, the message Moeins supporters want to send to the GC is that if you disqualify our candidate you would be acting against what the leader is demanding. But there are two points here: first, in the previous (Majlis) elections, President Khatami and Mr. Karoubi (then Majlis speaker) held meetings with the GC members (Ayatollah Jannati in particular) to convince 'him' that the leader was of the view that the GC should be more generous to the 'reformists' candidates. They did not succeed, as we now know. Second, it seems that Shakouri did not understand, or perhaps is deliberately misreading, the leader. By 'maximum participation' the leader doesn't mean a 'democratic' election where every group and party would be able to nominate a candidate. He is simply hoping that as many people will turn out to vote as they did in past two presidential elections, so that the regime can maintain its 'democratic face'. Thus, the IIPF has better part with its illusions. The GC will not treat their candidates any differently this time.

Iranian Newspapers Review - February 22 & 23, 2005

Kayhan reports that six new members have now joined the “Council for Coordinating Revolutionary Forces” (Shoraye Hamahangiye Niroo Haye Enghelab). According to Kayhan, the purpose for this new addition was to “better enhance consensus” among the members of the council. The new members are: Gholam Ali Haddad Adel (Majlis Speaker and the father of Ayatollah Khamnei’s daughter-in-law), Hossein Shariat Madari (representative of Ayatollah Khamnei in Kayhan Institute and Kayhan Daily’s supervisor in chief), Mehdi Chamran (war veteran, currently head of Tehran City Council), Mohammad Hasan Rahimian, Morteza Nabavi (Head of Ressalat daily, member of the Expediancy Council, appointed by Ayatollah Khamnei), and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi. Kayhan reports that the Council for Coordinating Revolutionary Forces has come up with “new strategies” for the upcoming elections, but does not reveal what they are. The new move comes after weeks of ongoing disagreement and conflict within the council which had led some potential contenders (most important of all Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati) to become less willing to follow the Council’s directions. Shargh has a summary of an interview with Dr. Mostafa Moein, potential contender backed by “Islamic Iran Participation Front” (Jebheye Mosharekat-e Iran-e Eslami). In a notable remark, Moein says that if he had been in President Khatami’s position, “he would have not lost the opportunity to talk to Clinton at the UN” in 1998. In his view: “ a president who has the support of a nation must observe the basic principles of ‘sociability’ [sic](diplomacy?) when facing more important global figures, and must not avoid them”. It is interesting to note the terms used by Moein in referring to the act of his former boss (Moein served under Khatami as minister for science, research and technology from 1997 to 2003). Accusing the President of not being enough ‘sociable’ in his interactions with foreign figures and underestimating the Iranian president’s office as being less important than its pairs do not sound proper for someone who intends to run for presidential elections in June.