IRAN: Rafsanjani condemns 'spiraling wave of sedition' against supreme leader
Over the last few days, Babylon & Beyond has chronicled the political journey of Iran's Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful cleric and erstwhile supporter of the nation's opposition movement who appeared to be shifting his political rhetoric.
On Tuesday, he delivered lavish praise for supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the opening of a session of the Assembly of Experts, the body of clerics that oversees the office of the supreme leader.
On Wednesday, the assembly, which Rafsanjani heads, issued a statement describing the opposition movement as "sedition."
Thursday, Rafsanjani himself made comments at the mausoleum of revolutionary founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that could widely be interpreted as a condemnation of the opposition movement.
"A spiraling wave of sedition is bearing down on Islam, revolution, the supreme leadership and the clergy," Rafsanjani said, according to comments posted to his website (in Persian). "This sedition has no intention of easing."
He continued to praise Khamenei. "Hopefully, we have a supreme leader who knows better than everyone else how to lead the country," he said. "But unfortunately, reckless people behave in a way to shift the blame for every shortcoming on him."
Is Rafsanjani putting on airs as part of some backroom deal? Is he being subtle, using the terminology of the hard-liners to condemn them? Who knows? One possibility is that he's trying to show his allegiance to Khamenei as a way of gaining leverage against his other rivals, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But his comments will surely discourage many opposition supporters who thought that Rafsanjani was on their side after Ahmadinejad's disputed June 12 reelection.If there has been some kind of deal -- for example, Rafsanjani promising to swear allegiance to Khamenei and condemn the "sedition" in exchange for an end to the ongoing crackdown -- someone didn't get the memo.
Revolutionary Guard commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari warned deputies in the capital that the fight against the opposition is not yet over. "We have to brace for new enemy plots being designed by anti-Iranian think tanks inside and outside of our country," he said, according to the news website of the Revolutionary Guard (in Persian).
"Certain individuals have deviated from the right path of the revolution following the June election," he said. "We are going to witness events of a different nature because our enemies are changing tactics. Numerous think tanks are working out new dirty mechanisms against Iran, and we have to make the necessary preparations for repelling them in the future."
Khamenei himself, addressing the Assembly of Experts, essentially declared that accepting Ahmadinejad as president and the election last year as legitimate was a requirement for remaining in the political arena.
"The Islamic Republic is a government based on obedience to God and divine geometry and mapping," he said, referring to the system that he places him above all as God's representative on Earth. "Those who recognize the geometry and identity of the regime, enshrined in the constitution and the rule of law, belong to this system. But those who trample upon these principles by their provocative words and deeds automatically lose any competence to be part of this great body."
The post-election protests, he continued in comments posted (in Persian) to his website, were "a negation of people's vote and insult against the Islamic system. Certain individuals committed this mortal sin by their refusal to bow to the law."
Photo: Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from left, hobnobs with Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani and Ahmad Jannati, head of the Guardian Council, are also pictured. Credit: Khamenei.ir