Iran – 7/19

Rafsanjani is seeking the mantle of Khomeini

During his decades in Iranian politics, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been praised as a pragmatist, criticized as spineless, accused of corruption and dismissed as a has-been.

Now, in assailing the government’s handling of last month’s disputed presidential election, Mr. Rafsanjani, a 75-year-old cleric and former president, has cast himself in a new light: as a player with the authority to interpret the ideals of Iran’s 30-year-old Islamic republic.

Using his perch as a designated prayer leader on Friday to deliver the speech of a lifetime, Mr. Rafsanjani abandoned his customary caution to demand that the government release those arrested in recent weeks, ease restrictions on the media and eradicate the “doubt” the Iranian people have about the election result. And he implicitly challenged the authority of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to make decisions without seeking consensus. [continued…]

Ahmadinejad gets on wrong side of allies with VP pick

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s choice of vice president has met with a hail of criticism, provoking calls from his Principlist supporters for the resignation of the newly appointed veep.

As part of anticipated changes in the structure of his new government, President Ahmadinejad appointed his close confidant Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei to the post of vice president Thursday night.

Rahim-Mashaei, who has served as the head of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, will replace the incumbent first vice president Parviz Davoudi.

New first vice president Rahim-Mashaie stirred up fierce controversy after saying earlier in 2008 that despite the conflict between governments, Iranians are friends with the Israeli people. [continued…]

West must close Iran nuclear file: new atomic chief

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Friday announced the appointment of Salehi, Iran’s former envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, replacing the former chief of 12 years, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh.

Salehi is known as an open minded administrator and he was the one who signed the protocol with the IAEA in December 2003 which gave the UN agency a freer hand in inspecting Iran’s nuclear sites.

Ahmadinejad’s present government stopped applying that protocol, linked to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in February 2006 shortly after Iran’s nuclear programme was referred to the UN Security Council. [continued…]

Iran daily slams Rafsanjani querying poll result

… a prominent cleric who is a member of the electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, which upheld the poll result, rebuked Rafsanjani for his focus on popular legitimacy.

“The legitimacy of the government is given by God,” the ISNA news agency quoted Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as saying.

“Acceptance by the people doesn’t bring legitimacy to (an Islamic) government. Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani ignored this important Islamic point and talked in both parts of his sermon yesterday as if governments are assigned only by the people.” [continued…]

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