Friday, December 11, 2009

I.R. Iran's Intelligence Minister Hits Out at Rafsanjani

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Iran's intelligence minister lashed out at former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Thursday, suggesting the influential cleric was among people "standing against" the Islamic Republic's leadership. Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, speaking three days after police clashed with opposition protesters seeking to renew their challenge to the hardline government over June's disputed election, issued a thinly veiled warning to Rafsanjani: "Those who used to think they were on the safe side should know that the society cannot accept this safe side any longer ... " he said, according to IRNA news agency. Moslehi's comments underlined the deep rifts within the establishment that emerged after the poll, which the opposition says was rigged to secure President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. Rafsanjani, a rival of Ahmadinejad, backed the moderate Mirhossein Mousavi in the vote, and during the ensuing protests declared the Islamic state to be in crisis and demanded an end to arrests of moderates. Last Sunday, he accused Iran's rulers of "silencing any constructive criticism by closing the door on any criticism". Moslehi said Rafsanjani had recently stated that his views about post-election events had not changed. "It is shocking to see that he repeats the same things as the leaders of the recent riots say in their statements," Moslehi said, apparently referring to Mousavi and pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi, who have persisted in criticising the election.

"Those who themselves are in crisis think the country is in crisis ... but as an informed official I declare that there is no crisis in the country," Moslehi said. On Wednesday Moslehi cited documents "proving the involvement of some people who think they are on the safe side" in post-election unrest, and said they would be named soon. The presidential election plunged Iran into turmoil and exposed deepening divisions within its ruling establishment. The authorities, rejecting charges that voting was fraudulent, have portrayed the mass demonstrations that erupted after the poll as a foreign-backed bid to topple the clerical leadership. Even though the security forces largely quelled the street protests, Mousavi supporters have continued to stage sporadic demonstrations. Hardliners have called for Mousavi and Karoubi to face prosecution. "Some people think that the recent unrest is only a dispute over the election but unfortunately ... some people unexpectedly were standing against (Iran's clerical leadership)," Moslehi said. Rafsanjani chairs the 86-seat Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that supervises, appoints and can sack Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, though it is not known ever to have intervened in policy matters.