Al Jazeera English Live

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Notations On Our World: Reflections On Iran......

Iran is in the crosshairs of the Trump Administration as noted by   President's Tweets:
Iran's Supreme Leader responded in kind as he faulted the Obama Administration for Syria and other challenges in the Middle East in the aftermath of President Trump's election. This is in addition to declarations by the US Secretary of Defense as he has had long-standing profound concerns about Iran--although he has also publicly come out publicly in support of the Nuclear Agreement.    President Rouhani, though, touted how this was a "win-win"--as there is still some caution being shown despite the occasional on-going broadsides by Ayatollah Khameini.

Our team decided to share a retrospective on Iran by introducing the World to the real Iran courtesy of the Iranian Student Association at Penn State University as we assessed some of the on-going internal challenges prompted by the death of Ex-President Rafsanjani: 








Iran is on the eve of celebrating 38 years of the Revolution.  The leading opposition figure, Former President Khatami, has called for a massive turnout echoing what President Rouhani and The Supreme Guide have said--as one other leading opposition figure, Mehdi Khazali, has called for a boycott of the marches.     This is as ne of the key milestones recently achieved was the first delivery of the new Airbus planes negotiated in the aftermath of the nuclear agreement.     This is as our team picked up this "blast from the Past" celebrating the first direct flight to the United States in 1974 which was celebrated with a commemorative postage Stamp at the time:  



Iran, though, lost a major founding figure of the Revolution earlier this year.    Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a Former Speaker of Parliament and President, died of an apparent heart failure and was given a State Funeral earlier this year.     The Supreme Guide issued a tribute to his old friend of 53-Years and revolutionary Comrade as he presided over his funeral:
 
 He was buried at Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran.   Our team found it very curious that he did not use the title of Ayatollah in his tribute. 

His widow posted this on the day after as he remembered her husband glancing at the empty chair remembering the ritual they had as she prepared his breakfast:


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What was "glossed over" was his record.    He was appointed Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces during the Iran-Iraq war and was directly responsible for prolonging the war that to this day Iran continues to suffer from.     He was also at the forefront of the elimination campaign against political opponents.    He also engineered the rise of Khameini after the death of Khomeini.    


One of the leading opposition figures, Hadi Khorsandi, issued  a retrospective in Farsi which was stinging indictment of the true legacy of Rafsanjani as depicted below published on Mr. Khorsandi's Facebook Page: 
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Mr. Khorsandi wrote to remind the World that there are those mothers, wives and children whose images and grief will never be known as Rafsanjani was the key culprit of hundreds who had been killed during the height of his  Power.   Although Anyone's death is never to be celebrated--but the image on the left reflects some of the key opposition figures Rafsanjani had a hand in killing.    These key opposition figures--including the Kurdish Democratic Party head of Iran Dr. Gasmelou assassinated in Germany--wanted to make sure that Rafsanjani's crimes were not forgotten.  .  After his Presidency, he hardly left Iran because he was subjected to arrest--along with his Foreign Minister--who now serves as a key advisor to  the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei.      Mr. Khorsandi himself was ordered to be assassinated by   Ayatollah Khomeini for his anit-regime activities 
 including the publication of the leading Persian Satire Publication Ashgar Agha. In a recent interview on the Farsi Service of Voice of America, he almost broke down as he noted that he felt ashamed because just because he was "almost assassinated", it was not worth discussing as he remembered the thousands of writers who had been killed during the height of Rafsanjani's Power.   The program revealed that one of the facilitators of the assassination plot against Mr. Khorsandi was a gentleman by the name of Mohammad Hashemi-now of the richest men in Iran and husband to Masoumeh Ebtekar--who serves as a Vice President in the Rouhani Government and heads the Environment Organization in Iran.  What is also interesting to note that both were part of the so-called Students that took over the US Embassy in Tehran in 1980.

In the later years, Rafsanjani was deemed a pragmatist and emerged as the head of the reformist faction in his later years.    Some would argue that this was out of necessity as he was effectively sidelined by Khameini.   What was fascinating, though, was that he personally was not arrested--although his children were constantly harassed and emerged as vocal supporters of the opposition.   One of his sons, Mehdi, is still in prison after having being convicted of graft and received a special dispensation to attend his father's funeral.    He was the chief patron of the so-called progressive faction within the regime--and this may prove problematic as Rouhani plans out his reelection.   

 He also was depicted as the modern era's "Amir Kabir".for his supposed reforms--although the legacy of the rise of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp began under his watch--and expanded under his successor Ahmadinejad.    For those who may not know who Amir Kabir is, he served as Chancellor under the Qajar King Nasser Din Shah and was ordered assassinated as he began a reform campaign that was derailed--although what he began ultimately resulted in the advent of Constitutional Monarchy during the reign of Mozafar Din Shah who succeeded Naser Din Shah.    Rafsanjani's actual record is a far cry from what Amir Kabir achieved during his brief tenure as Chancellor (Prime Minister).    

Some have suggested that Rafsanjani may have been murdered.   Our team has no way to collaborate this--although it has been discussed in various outlets--including the Farsi Service of the Voice of America.   As the Iranian Year is coming to an end,  the looming power struggle looms large as Rouhani is up for reelection and engaged in a major tussle with the head of Judiciary--with the battle over a successor to Khameini also part of the complicated equation.    One of the "dark horse" candidates emerging is a cleric by the name of Ebrahim Raissi:


Ebrahim Raisi

He was appointed by Khamenei to run the Astan Quds Razavi--one of the largest foundations in the Muslim World with estimated revenue of $ 150,000,000 dollars.   Over the last number of months, a number of key Revolutionary Guard Commanders had gone to see him.   He had risen through the Regime's National Security Establishment over the past 37 years.


As Raissi rises in prominence, the tussle between Rouhani and Larijani continues--mollified somewhat publicly at this time.    This tussle was depicted by the team at +Iran Wire recently which we view as a perfect illustration:  

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The dispute rose after the Judiciary Head, Sadeq Larijani, was implicated in a massive corruption scandal regarding the bail monies put up by those who were arrested.   Sadeq Larijani then came out forcefully asking for a full and complete accounting of expenses by the Presidency--after the scandal involving pays for Senior Government bureaucrats.   It seems to have subsided partly due to the emerging external challenges and the moves by Israel to resurrect an anti-Iran coalition in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump.   

One of Rouhani's potential rivals is the Mayor Of Tehran who ran against him in 2012.    He is faced with a bit of a profound challenge on his own as he is dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of the Plasco Building in Tehran.   This was a building built in 1968 by one of the leading Jewish-Iranian business, Habib Elghanian who was one of the first victims of the Islamic Revolution.    The team at +Iran Wire depicted the manner in which the City of Tehran responded to this tragedy:  .    




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A number of firefighters lost their lives as a result of the collapse and hundreds of thousand turned out for their funeral.   What is critical to note that this building was owned by one of the foundations controlled by the Supreme Guide (Supreme Leader) and had been apparently cited numerous times by the Tehran City Government--but they had no power to enforce the citations.     It underscores the profound challenges faced by the Government as Iran gears up for reelection that also has the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, facing his own challenges.   Some within the Guardian Council--charged with vetting the suitability of candidates for office--have said that even the incumbent President may be deemed unqualified.  

What is critical to note as Iran remembers 38 years of revolution:  What happens in Iran matters to the region and the World.   It will be fascinating to be witness to it all.















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