IRAN: Rafsanjani-led assembly issues statement condemning protest movement as 'sedtition'
On Tuesday, Babylon & Beyond wondered just where Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stood regarding the country's current political divide.
On Wednesday, the Assembly of Experts, which he chairs, apparently delivered a statement that would put him squarely within the camp of those opposed to the opposition movement.
"The post-election events inflicted irreparable financial and spiritual damage on Iran both nationally and internationally," said the statement by the body of clerics, which oversees the office of supreme leader Ali Khamenei, according to the Iranian Students News Agency, or ISNA.
"However, they served as a historical litmus test for both people and elites," it said. "The revolutionary patience of the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic ended in December after sedition leaders missed numerous chances to repent and return into the gown of the revolution. Sedition leaders flunked the Dec 30 final exam and they were removed from Iran's political spirit."
The "Dec. 30 final exam" refers to the pro-government rallies staged after the unrest that coincided with Ashura observances. "Sedition leaders" refers to the leaders of Iran's opposition.
According to the official version of recent history touted by Iranian hard-liners, Iran's people, enraged by the excesses of the "rioters" that make up protest movement, came out in force that day and put a halt to the protest movement born out of the disputed June 12 elections. Those who refused to condemn the "rioters," such as opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, must be excised from the political establishment, according to this version of events.
It's not clear whether Rafsanjani himself has attached his name to the statement. ISNA describes it as the official statement of this session of the assembly. But it could not be found Wednesday on the official Persian-language website of the Assembly of Experts. Even if he has, in all likelihood, Rafsanjani hasn't completely given up the fight against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his kind. Signing on to such a statement might be a tactical retreat, letting him keep his powerful posts so he may do battle another day.
But such a move severely harms his reputation among supporters of Iran's opposition movement, as well as reformists and moderates in the political establishment.
"We advise all foreign enemies and the misled individuals inside the country to close ranks with the supreme leader and distance themselves from seditionism and hypocrisy," the statement said. "We offer our sincere gratitude to police and security forces who sacrificed their lives to establish security. We expect all of them to firmly confront any suspicious and crisis-generating gesture while respecting the principle of Islamic compassion and leniency."
Separately, according to state radio, an inquiry launched by the Assembly of Experts examining Khamenei's qualifications to be supreme leader concluded that he excelled at his job.
"The committee's investigations concluded that all conditions and qualifications required by the constitution for the leader of the Islamic Republic are more brilliant than ever in our esteemed supreme leader," the statement said, according to state radio.
"The more we go ahead, the more our supreme leader proves his competence," the statement said. "Ayatollah Khamenei shed light on realities in dealing with the post-election sedition and undertook huge efforts in view of bringing unity to the nation."
It added: "Under the aegis of his reasonable measures, the sedition was stifled to a great extent."
Photo: Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, right, hobnobs with the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who addressed the Assembly of Experts on Wednesday. Credit: Mohammad Kazempour / Mehr News Agency