IRAN: What does Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani really want?
It's tough to figure out where Iran's Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stands on the country's current post-election domestic political troubles.
On the one hand, he despises President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani's allies in parliament often take the lead in attacking the president and his circle.
On the other other hand, these days he spares little effort flattering and showing deference to supreme leader Ali Khamenei, the prominent force behind the effort to crush the movement opposed to Ahmadinejad that Rafsanjani once appeared to champion.
"A frontier separates those loyal to the revolution from norm-breakers standing against the supreme leader," Rafsanjani said during a meeting Tuesday of the Assembly of Experts, which he heads. "Today, the supreme leader could be the only pivot for unity and solidarity in the country. We can reach our objectives if he pushes ahead with this mission and others help him."
Rafsanjani used the occasion to call for national unity. Though he appeared to condemn some of the violence perpetrated by security forces against peaceful protesters, he also condemned violence against security forces.
"Deplorable events happened in the country in the wake of the presidential election," he said, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency. "These unprecedented incidents snowballed into discrepancies and even vengeance."
He said that the "the families of protesters and police officers were both harmed."
Dozens of protesters have lost their lives in the post-election unrest. To date, officials have not cited a single member of the security forces or the pro-government Basiji militia who has been killed by a protester.
Rafsanjani said Iranians are "observing glimmers of solidarity and consensus" following the cataclysmic months following the elections.
"We have to shun extremism and opt for Islamic compassion," he said.
Rafsanjani's son, Mehdi, is on the lam, outside the country for fear of being arrested upon his return. His daughter, Faezeh, is under constant surveillance and pressure, as shown in this attempt by hard-line students to surround her car.
More likely than not, the 75-year-old Rafsanjani is himself under a lot of pressure and just treading water, hoping not to alienate either side too much in hopes of surviving the consequences of the ongoing political rift within the establishment.
Photo: Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani addresses the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Tuesday. Credit: Iranian Labor News Agency