[Marxism] Cracks in the clerical edifice

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 4 17:32:07 MST 2013

NY Times February 4, 2013
High-Level Feud Bares Tensions in Iran

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 
business deals.

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 
judiciary official.

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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