Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is keeping up his push to mend the divisions left by the nation's disputed and bloody 2009 presidential election, telling officials on all sides they should be “compatible and cooperative” with each other.
Khamenei, speaking Wednesday in a sermon for the Eid al Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, directly addressed the 2009 violence in lamenting that Iran seemed to have trouble holding peaceful elections.
“In our country, elections are somehow challenge-ridden events," said Khamenei, Iran's top cleric. “People should be vigilant that these likely challenges in the elections in the country will not jeopardize the security of the country."
He also urged officials to try harder to get along, stressing, “This is very important advice to everybody."
In 2009, opposition activists took to the streets to challenge what they said was the rigged reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian rights groups say security forces killed at least 100 people in crushing the protests.
The makeup of the VIP audience for Khamenei’s sermon Wednesday also pushed the reconciliation message.
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key moderate figure, sat in the front row with a prime political opponent, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, whose state Guardian Council has disqualified numerous moderate candidates in past elections.
Khamenei’s soothing words Wednesday followed his pardon over the weekend of several dozen opposition activists jailed after the 2009 protests.
Iran’s supreme leader is trying to repair relations ahead of March parliamentary elections, the first national vote since the turbulent 2009 election.
Several moderate political figures say a boycott of that vote remains likely unless authorities unconditionally free all opposition figures.
Khamenei also praised what he called the “Islamic Awakening” -- known to the rest of the world as the Arab Spring revolutions.
He lauded the revolutionaries of Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Tunis and Egypt, but notably, not Syria, where Iranian-allied President Bashar Assad is using military force to try to crush a popular uprising.
Khamenei warned against allowing the United States to take control after the revolutions. If that happened, he said, “The Muslim world will experience major problems for decades.”
-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran
Photo: Political moderate Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, center, listens to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's address in Tehran. Credit: Alef.ir