IRAN: Rafsanjani so silent because he gets no respect, brother says [Updated]
For months Iran watchers have wondered what was up with Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's powerful Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, as well as a pillar of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Once considered the second-most powerful man in the country and the primary backer of Iran's burgeoning opposition movement, he has grown uncharacteristically quiet in the last couple of months.
In an interview published this weekend by the Mehr news agency (in Persian), his younger brother, Mohammad, says he's grown so silent "because no one listens to him."
He acknowledged that within Iran's political establishment many enemies had lined up against Rafsanjani.
"In the early days of the revolution the opposition based in abroad, monarchists, and his foes abroad stormed him with their verbal attacks," Mohammad told Mehr.
"Now, unfortunately some people within the system make slanders against him and some media without paying attention to the remarks of [supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] keep on libeling him," he said.
[Updated, Jan. 11, 4:50 a.m. PST: Someone riffed off our headline and came up with a hilarious illustration of Rafsanjani as the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who also used to complain that he "gets no respect."]
Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani had especially harsh words for state television, which treated ordinary people as "outsiders and strangers" who should be fed lies.
"The media should be the perfect mirror of the various incidents to enlighten the people," he said.
"Some of the media not only do not give correct information but misinform people," he said. "Unfortunately, some media are spreading misinformation and creating havoc."
But the brother, who works as chief of staff at the Expediency Council, warned that "omitting Rafsanjani from the system and the revolution is an old scenario" that would never work.
Rafsanjani, he said, was too tough, and any attempt to pressure him would not work.
Rafsanjani has striven for months to show that only he has the stature to guide the nation out of its political crisis.
Despite the claim that his brother gets no respect, Mohammad Rafsanjani's statement was likely also meant as a warning to his brother's rivals that he darn well better be respected.
In characteristically coded language, the message is that if they try to push Rafsanjani out of Iran's circle of power, he'd be willing to bring down the whole edifice of the Islamic Republic with him, an analyst said.
"History has proven that promoting the system is much more important for him than his own reputation or his life," his brother said.
Photo: Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Credit: AFP