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Rafsanjani Turns To Iran's Supreme Leader To Deal With Ahmadinejad's 'Lies'

Former Iranian Presideent Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani calls Ahmadinejad's remarks "unfounded and irresponsible."
Former Iranian Presideent Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani calls Ahmadinejad's remarks "unfounded and irresponsible."
By Golnaz Esfandiari
Inflaming an already heated presidential election race, Iran's influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has written an unprecedented open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

In the letter, written in a poetic tone, Rafsanjani -- one of Iran’s most influential officials -- calls on Khamenei to extinguish the "fire" sparked by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's recent accusations against his main rival, Mir Hossein Musavi, and prevent that fire from spreading “through the election and beyond."

In a televised debate on June 4, Ahmadinejad, who is seeking reelection, claimed Musavi was backed by a number of “corrupt“ officials, including Rafsanjani. 

"What are [Rafsanjani’s] sons doing in the country?" Ahmadinejad asked. "[Name] one of my ministers who have become billionaires during their tenure, or received properties. I have a list of lands confiscated [under other administrations] -- 40 hectares, 50, 400 hectares. Lawlessness exists among the sons of some of the gentlemen who now support you. How did the son of [former parliament speaker] Nategh Nuri become a billionaire? How is Nategh himself living? These are your supporters."

In making the claims, Ahmadinjead broke an Iranian political taboo by publicly accusing Rafsanjani and other senior officials by name.

Rafsanjani, who was defeated by Ahamdinejad in the 2005 presidential election, says he met with Ahmadinejad after the debate and asked him to withdraw the accusations. The former president also called on Iran’s state broadcaster to give him airtime to reply to Ahmadinejad’s accusations.

However, Rafsanjani writes in his letter to Khamenei, both requests were “practically” rejected. 

'Unfounded And Irresponsible'

Rafsanjani chairs the Assembly of Experts that oversees the supreme leader's work and technically has the power to oust him. In his letter, he refers to Khamenei as a “companion” and says it is now up to him to resolve the problem.

It seems that Rafsanjani wrote the letter because it was clear it would get publicity and would be widely covered by the media, so that the leader would be less inclined to give a green light for election fraud to Ahmadinejad‘s supporters.
Rafsanjani writes that Ahmadinejad’s “unfounded and irresponsible” remarks during the debate were reminiscent of the actions of “antirevolutionary groups“ in the early years of the revolution. He says the accusations have targeted the “achievements" of the Islamic establishment.

Sadegh Zibakalam, a Tehran-based professor of political science, tells RFE/RL's Radio Farda that Rafsanjani’s letter is an expression of concern over the undermining of Iran’s ruling system.

“He’s warning Ayatollah Khamenei that the branch that is cut is the one we’re all sitting on,” Zibakalam says.

Rafsanjani writes in his letter that “dozens of millions of people, inside and outside the country, watched [Ahmadinejad] lying and making false comments which were against the Shari'a [Islamic law], the law, morality, and fairness.”

He also writes that it is necessary to have a “healthy and awesome election with maximum participation,” which he believes would save Iran from “danger.”

As Paris-based political analyst Hossein Bastani explains, the letter is also an expression of concern about the fairness of the June 12 vote.

“It seems that Rafsanjani wrote the letter because it was clear it would get publicity and would be widely covered by the media, so that the leader would be less inclined to give a green light for election fraud to Ahmadinejad‘s supporters,” Bastani says.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (right) and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in friendlier times
The letter, which was published in full only by the semi-official Mehr news agency, puts Khamenei in a difficult position, and most observers don’t expect him to provide an immediate public reaction.

The supreme leader, who has the last word in the Islamic republic, has not publicly backed any of the four candidates running in the presidential race. But he has made comments that have been interpreted as implicit approval of Ahmadinejad.

For example, on May 12, Khamenei said in an apparent reference to Ahamdinejad that Iranians should elect “those who have popular support and who live in a simple and modest way."

Ahmadinejad has a reputation of living a frugal lifestyle, while Rafsanjani in particular is known for his personal wealth.

'Set Of Lies, Slanders'

Any move by Khamenei showing support for Rafsanjani could be harmful to Ahamdinejad. And Khamenei’s silence would mean acceptance of accusations against a senior member of the establishment and a longtime political “companion.”

The letter also highlights the divisions Ahmadinejad has created within the Iranian establishment.

In the letter, Rafsanjani warns Khamenei that his reputation is being smeared by Ahmadinejad’s “set of lies” and “slanders.”

Bastani, however, believes Khamenei shouldn't feel threatened by Ahmadinejad, as Rafsanjani and the others do.

“[Ahmadinejad] has been in line with [the supreme leader], but he has attacked all the others, from senior clerics to how the country has been managed since the 1979 Revolution," Bastani says. "Naturally, by doing this he has united many individuals and forces against him. He had done it thinking that it doesn’t matter; Khamenei’s support is enough for him to fight them.”

But such an assumption by Ahmadinejad, Bastani warns, might not necessarily prove correct.

Echoing Rafsanjani’s comments, 50 senior clerics in Qom have expressed deep concern that Iran’s image has been harmed as a result of the June 4 debate.
Iran Election Diary
Disputed Presidential Vote
There have been protests and clashes with police on the streets of Tehran following the disputed reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad. RFE/RL collects videos, photos, and messages on social-networking sites coming out of Iran to attempt to get a picture of what is happening inside the country. Click here
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Comments
     
by: Jeffrey from: New Mexico, United States
June 10, 2009 18:31
Thank-you for an informative article which helps us all to understand beyond the US media's propaganda/advertising machine. To know the truth is to be educated and aware. Bless you for your sincere and honest work! Jeffrey

by: Fariborz from: Maryland, USA
June 14, 2009 08:23
To resolve all the post election problems, I suggest rahbar enghelab, invite all 4 candidates and in a televised announcement declear that he is not sponsering and or recommending any candidate, void the current ellection results, set up a new election, invite well known individuals in cooperation with the UN to observe the Islamic Democracy in action, alhamdullelah.<br /><br />I think, rahbar enghelab sponsering a presidential candidate is a &quot;conflict of interests&quot; and many Iranian Muslims have difficulties to vote their selected candidates.<br /><br />Islamic Republic of Iran sould be mardoum salari and the:&quot;Government of people, for the people and by the people&quot; otherwise what is the difference between the current goverment and the goverment before 1979, revolution.<br /><br />Sincerely and Peacefully,<br /><br />Fariborz <br />supports sardar Rezaie because, he says:<br />1) The current Iranian president is guiding IRI to fall from the cliff(partgah)<br />2)Sardar Rezaie wishes Good relations between IRI and USA as well.<br />

by: none from: earth
June 16, 2009 15:54
This regime physically eliminated all oppositions in last 30 years and it is very natural they eliminate each other now. This has been expected from day one. I would have been surprised if it was anything different. The regime has nothing to do with religion. Islam became a sacrificial lamb for these people to dominate others the same practices of Muslims in last 1400 years. Nothing new.

by: Hamid from: Canada
June 26, 2009 22:53
What Ahmadinejad did in UN, Columbia university and now against Rafsanjani and his corrupt allies are what Ebrahim did by breaking all idols in Caabaa. It's obvious for every iranians that Rafsanjani and his family are corrupt. As Molana says:<br /><br />Chon ke man man nistam, in dam ze hoost,<br />Pishe in dam har ke dam zad kafer oost.<br /><br />Why there was only Ahmadinejad who took the camera man into his personal life and showed his lifestye.<br /><br />The problem though is many act muslim, they don't show persistancy. They do not show ESTEGHAMA. People after a while gets tired of what truth is, they choose falseness and give credit too. They say if we did not steel, we were stupid. This is what the problem is. They are tired of fighting for Islam. I hope this is not the senario in Iran, as it lets every thing goes right in the drain during the last 30 years of standing against the whole world.