[Marxism] Cracks in the clerical edifice
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 4 17:32:07 MST 2013
NY Times February 4, 2013
High-Level Feud Bares Tensions in Iran
By THOMAS ERDBRINK
TEHRAN — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad escalated a bitter political
fight this week with Iran’s most influential political family by
disclosing secret film recordings of what he purported were fraudulent
During a Sunday session of Parliament, broadcast on state radio, Mr.
Ahmadinejad singled out the head of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, a
political rival with strong links to influential Shiite Muslim clerics
and one of several brothers who have held top positions in the Iranian
His older brother, Sadegh, 52, heads Iran’s judiciary, while another
brother, Mohammad Javad, a Berkeley-educated mathematician, is also a
On Monday, a conservative newspaper, Kayhan, hinted that the nation’s
supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ayatollah Khamenei had been
forced to step in to prevent both men from giving potentially damaging
news conferences, which were both canceled at the last minute.
This was not the first time Ayatollah Khamenei has been forced to
intervene in this feud. In October, he issued an edict aimed at stopping
the infighting, saying that those creating divisions before the June 14
presidential elections “betray” the country.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, who went to the Parliament in a failed attempt to head
off the impeachment of his labor minister, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami,
said Mr. Larijani and his fellow lawmakers had obstructed the
government, stepped beyond their constitutional boundaries and written
letters ordering the annulment of government decisions.
Instructed by Mr. Larijani to stick to the subject of the impeachment,
Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “Don’t order me to close my mouth because you say
it’s the law.”
With that, Mr. Ahmadinejad, who for years has threatened to reveal the
names of corrupt officials, played a video clip of a conversation in
which another of Mr. Larijani’s brothers, Fazel, appeared to discuss the
purchase of a state company under favorable terms, the semiofficial
Tabnak Web site reported. While Fazel Larijani used to head a medical
association in Iran, his current position is unclear.
The public accusation, rare in Iran, could signal a new phase in an
already intense conflict between Mr. Ahmadinejad, who represents a
powerful group of young, ambitious politicians, and Mr. Larijani, who is
the official representative of the holy city of Qum, the center of
Shiite scholarship in Iran.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said his associate, Saeed Mortazavi, 45, was also at the
taped meeting. In January, Mr. Mortazavi, was dismissed as the head of
Iran’s enormous social welfare organization under pressure from
Parliament. Some days later, however, he was rehired by the president in
the same position, this time as official caretaker.
During the conversation, read out in part by Mr. Ahmadinejad to
astonished lawmakers, Fazel Larijani appears to try to use his family
connections to buy a factory from the social welfare organization. He
promises leniency for Mr. Mortazavi, the former Tehran prosecutor who
faces several criminal proceedings over accusations that he played a
role in the deaths of three protesters in a substandard prison in 2009.
Mr. Mortazavi was arrested Monday evening, the Fars news agency
reported, though no reason was given.
“These are audio and video, and the tape is clear,” Mr. Ahmadinejad is
quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “If the honorable
Parliament speaker sees fit, we can turn over the 24 to 25 hours to
you,” he said of the recordings. On Monday, Iran’s Islamic Republic News
Agency, a mouthpiece for Mr. Ahmadinejad, deepened the split by
publishing the audio tape on its Web site.
Ali Larijani, cheered on by the Parliament, which has lost nearly every
serious political battle with the president, silenced the room, saying,
“Let him tell his words. If there is anything about my family, then let
him talk about it.”Mr. Larijani said it was a “mafia film” and recalled
how he had a meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s estranged brother, Davoud.
“He said many things against you,” Mr. Larijani told the president,
“about economic corruption, about your inner circle and your relations
with foreign countries.”
For his part, Fazel Larijani strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying that
while he did appear in the clip, the words were not his, but rather had
been added in a voiceover. Calling Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Mortazavi
“mafialike individuals,” he said he would sue them both for “spreading
lies and disturbing public opinion.”
On Monday, several officials criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad and Ali
Larijani, accusing them of lacking self-control and bringing shame on
the country. “They broke the leader’s heart and gave the friends of the
Islamic republic almost a seizure,” said Mojtaba Zolnour, a special
consultant to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, the semiofficial
Iranian Labor News Agency reported. “They provided ammunition for the
foreign media on the eve of our election.”
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