Thursday, April 17, 2014


Iran

Springtime For Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech during a rally in Tehran to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on February 10.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech during a rally in Tehran to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on February 10.

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By Golnaz Esfandiari
Resistance is in the air in Tehran, with calls of "Viva Spring" ushering in the election season and signaling that President Mahmud Ahmadinejad does not intend to go quietly.

The slogan, widely seen as an endorsement for the candidacy of Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiari Rahim Mashaei, has been used repeatedly by the outgoing president and his supporters in recent days.

With Ahmadinejad engaged in a power struggle with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his powerful allies, critics cite the slogan as evidence of the "deviant current," a term used by Iranian officials to refer to Ahmadinejad's inner circle. The president, who is completing his second and final term, has been accused of violating election laws and engineering the vote for his successor.

In the eyes of Ahmadinejad's opponents, calls of "Viva Spring" mark the unofficial launch of Mashaei's election campaign and herald an attempt by Ahmadinejad to retain power by installing Mashaei as his placeholder until he is eligible to run again. The scenario has been compared to the Putin/Medvedev situation in Russia in which Vladimir Putin served as prime minister while his handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, took over as president for one term.

When about 100 of Ahmadinejad's supporters welcomed him last week in Tehran upon his return from Egypt, they reportedly held posters with the slogan "Viva Spring." Mashaei, who received a hero's welcome along with Ahmadinejad, has indicated that "spring" is a reference to the return of the "Hidden Imam," who Shi'ite Muslims believe will reappear and bring justice to the world. "We have one spring. That is the Mahdi, who will come soon," he has been quoted as saying.

Ahmadinejad himself used the slogan at the end of his February 10 speech marking the 34th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The same day, "Viva Spring" surfaced on posters held by a number of individuals as they violently disrupted a speech in Qom by Ahmadinejad's rival, parliament speaker Ali Larijani, prompting him to leave the scene. The hard-line Alef website said chants in favor of Mashaei's presidency were also heard from the crowd.

Defying His Enemies

Mohammad Esmail Kowsari, a lawmaker and a former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, believes Ahmadinejad's use of the slogan is intended for the June 14 vote and, as such, is a "clear violation" and "engineering of the election."

Another lawmaker, Mohammad Hossein Asafri, has listed "Viva Spring" among the slogans of the "deviant current," of which Mashaei is considered a top figure. Mashaei is widely despised by the clerical establishment for promoting an Iranian doctrine instead of an Islamic one.

Many of his opponents believe Ahmadinejad is seeking to put close confidant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (left) in the presidential post.
Many of his opponents believe Ahmadinejad is seeking to put close confidant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei (left) in the presidential post.


Mohammad Hossein Ziya, a journalist who campaigned for opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi, believes the February 10 speech watched by millions of Iranians is part of a calculated effort. "All of these [developments], including a poll released by the government daily 'Iran' that claimed that Mashaei has 35 percent support in 24 areas of Tehran, are signs of an organized move by this group to magnify Mashaei and to use him," he says.

Scott Lucas, an Iran specialist at Britain's Birmingham University, agrees that Ahmadinejad was endorsing Mashaei. But there was more to the speech. "The bigger part of the story is that Ahmadinejad not only said, 'I want you to support Rahim Mashaei,' he then went on to say, 'My opponents are going to try to rig the elections.' And he called on the Iranian people to stand up against this and vote for the best man," Lucas says.

"As far as I know that is the most explicit call by any politician in terms of a warning about the elections being manipulated," Lucas adds. "We've had elements of this in the past from various politicians but for Ahmadinejad to do this it's not only a show of defiance in the face of his rivals, it's a show of defiance, in my opinion, in the face of the supreme leader."

All The Aces, Or Just A Bluff?

Ahmadinejad, whose 2009 reelection led to allegations of massive fraud, warned in his speech about those who are planning "to engineer" the election. He was apparently referring to comments made in January by Khamenei's representative to the IRGC, Ali Saidi, in which he said the "rational and logical engineering of the election" is the duty of the IRGC. Saidi added that engineering did not mean interfering in the elections.

Ahmadinejad's speech comes amid a dispute between the president and his opponents that has become increasingly ugly.

Last week, Ahmadinejad and Larijani engaged in an unprecedented public exchange of accusations. In the course of an open parliament session, Ahmadinejad's labor minister was dismissed and the president released a secret video recording that allegedly exposed corruption by members of the Larijani family.

In recent months a number of Ahmadinejad's allies have been charged or jailed on corruption and other charges. Last week, former Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi, nicknamed the "Butcher of the Press," over his role in the closure of newspapers and jailing of journalists, was jailed for one day at Evin prison.

Ahmadinejad, once a Khamenei protege, has become isolated and weakened as a result of his fight with the supreme leader. Yet he has refused to give in and has even upped the ante.

Analysts suggest the president is worried about his future and the future of his close aides once his presidency ends. Ahmadinejad has threatened to reveal damaging files believed to have been obtained last year when he fired an intelligence minister who was an ally of Khamenei and who was quickly reinstated by the supreme leader. The February 10 disruption of Larijani's speech in Qom and the allegations of corruption against him and his brothers is seen as a warning by Ahmadinejad that he will not go down without a fight.

Journalist Ziya says the bold moves by Ahmadinejad and his recent speech appear to suggest that "his hands are full." "There have been rumors that while Ahmadinejad was in charge of the Intelligence Ministry he gained access to important documents," he says. "I think we're seeing the correctness of those rumors in the events of the past two weeks, particularly in Ahmadinejad's policy of attack."

Lucas, however, considers Ahmadinejad "finished" and believes he might be bluffing. "If I've got a weak hand, sometimes the worst thing to do is simply to fold the hand and give away," the analyst says. "Instead I'm going to pretend I've got a really strong hand to take this as far as I can and make my opponents back down."

Both analysts believe that Khamenei is likely to continue his strategy of containment when it comes to the combative president. Ahmadinejad's next move is more difficult to predict.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MUSLIM from: Land
February 12, 2013 15:43
RFERL should not be used as a sloganeering tool by Iranian exiles that have little in common with average Iranian citizen, that's why your reports on Iran are very shallow, like in 99% of Western press.


As Muslims in Iran and beyond marked the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, it is clear that without vast popular support the Islamic government in Iran would not be able to overcome the challenges imposed upon it through western, mainly American aggressive policies.

Mass rallies celebrating the Islamic Revolution once again highlighted the fact that all forms of economic, political, military and media war against the Islamic government in Tehran have failed to turn the Iranian people against its Islamic leadership.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran has demonstrated on a practical level that an Islamic governing system is not an abstract theory, but a practical reality. People of Iran showed that Muslims can run their own affairs based on their own principles and methodology rooted in the Qur’an. Iran has demonstrated this fact through concrete achievements like being ranked one of the fastest growing scientific countries in the world in 2010, increasing the percentage of women accepted into universities and higher education institutions from 32.5% in 1976 to 59.9% in 2007 and challenging imperialist hegemony not only in the Muslim world, but also in Latin America and the Balkans.

Objective and basic research of the US foreign policy in the Middle East shows that since 1979 Washington’s imperialist foreign policy in the Muslim world has revolved around the notion of countering the rising Islamic alternative put forward by the Islamic system in Iran.

Since 1979 the primary focus of every step the Western imperialist regimes take in the Muslim world revolves around the following question: how to weaken and discredit the Islamic system that is in power in Iran? This policy is not only derived from the illegitimate urge to dominate the globe in every aspect, but also from the fact that the concept of white man’s burden is an integral part of the foreign policy of most Western ruling elites.

Western governments do not wish to see other societies function outside of the framework of hedonistic/materialist dogmas. Even within their own societies the ruling regimes are not going to allow a strong socio-political force to emerge as a credible alternative to the current ruling caste. The example of the Occupy Movement in the US and other Western countries is one of the manifestations of this reality.

The ongoing struggle for liberation in the Muslim East re-ignited by the Islamic Awakening process over the past two years shows that even though many Islamic organizations acquired political and social power, they are failing to establish themselves and implement the policies the people wish them to apply.

In the first two years of the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic movement in Iran faced similar problems that are today created by foreign powers in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya; however, the Islamic movement overcame all those obstacles. It is time that Islamic movements in Arab countries stop seeking answers to their problems through the IMF, the UN, Washington and Western think-tanks and instead look at the practical example of the Islamic movement in Iran and learn from its experience.

Today it cannot be denied that those Islamic organizations that embarked on a similar path as that of the Islamic movement in Iran have achieved success in many spheres. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah are just a few of the more evident examples. These organizations survived and gained victory against immense odds and the fact that they did so is due at least to their partial acceptance of Iranian experience as a point of reference.

by: Anonymous
February 12, 2013 20:53
Politics in Iran are fascinating.
In Response

by: Freedom from: France
February 13, 2013 08:53
The above comment from "MUSLIM" from "Land" is very facinating.
This kind of dialectic or rhetoric is made to justify the atrocities (tortures, harassments, assassinations, terrorism...) commited in the name of Islam. It is the new Utopia built on Islam. If the people who defend this kind of argument were really sincere why do they harass or kill their own citizens or other muslim people. The problem is that they don't promote love but death and sorrows.
If they change their use and costum, maybe they will be credible.
In Response

by: Citizen from: universe
February 13, 2013 20:16
Last time I checked there were only two world wars and they were both started by non-Muslims. Death camps like Dahao and Guantanamo Bay are also run by non-Muslims. Colonialism and fascism are also non-Muslim inventions, so what Muslim atrocities are you talking about? Or are you confusing resistance and self defense against occupation as atrocity?
In Response

by: Freedom from: France
February 15, 2013 08:29
The Syrian people waiting for bread who are killed in the Assad's shelling, what is their religion ? What the religion of the killers ?
The people killed in Irak, Afghanistan, Pakistan, in suicide bomb attacks (and sometimes in mosques), what is their religion ? Who are the killers ?
The people who make rallies and were killed after the 2009 elctions claiming for their rights, what was their religion ? What was the religion of those who killed them ?
The political prisoners in Evin (or Kahrizak...) prison who are tortured, raped, hanged... what are their religion ? what are their torturers religion ? Musavi, Karubi, what is their religion ? what is the religion of those who emprisonned them without any charge or judgement ?
The women stoned in Iran, what is their religion ? What is their killers religion ?
Why an Islam run state like Iran has one of the Death penal rate per inhabitant the most important in the world ?

Islam should be a religion of peace and misericord not a religion of death and torture.
What resistance means ?
Who are the resistants ?
The one who emprisons or kills or the one who are emprissionned or tortured or killed when they claim peacefully for their basic rigthts ? Who are the resistants ?

Stop killing Muslim on the behalf of Islam ! And the resistance whom "Citizen" from "universe" is talking will be credible.

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