Iran: Rafsanjani speaks indirectly in defiance of Khamenei & more

1. In Friday sermon, Rafsanjani criticizes Iran’s crackdown: Tens of thousands of Iranians attended Friday prayers at Tehran University and the audience roared with shouts of “freedom!” as leading cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani obliquely criticized the government for its crackdown on protesters. Outside, a small group of pro-democracy protesters were beaten by police and the Basiji militia that have come to act as the primary muscle on Tehran’s streets for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his ally, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who many Iranians believe unfairly won last month’s presidential election. The Associated Press reported that 15 protesters were arrested.

2. Rafsanjani Defies Khamenei at Friday Sermon: “By calling for an open debate about the election result, Mr Rafsanjani was almost openly challenging the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Four weeks ago, from the same pulpit, Mr Khamenei called for an end to discussion about an election result which he declared had been blessed by God. Former President Rafsanjani played his trump card, by referring to his friendship with the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini. He quoted Ayatollah Khomeini in ways that appeared to support the opposition’s right to demonstrate. Mr Rafsanjani even called for protesters who have been arrested to be released from prison.”
3. Rafsanjani: Iran in crisis: Alireza Ronaghi, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tehran, said: “Rafsanjani said we must preserve the Islamic nature of our government and without the people’s votes and trust, the government cannot be Islamic. “And that’s the argument that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi [another defeated presidential candidate] have been putting forth.

4. Professor Juan Cole on Rafsanjani’s Sermon: “Ghanbar Naderi points out that Rafsanjani has a long history of flip-flopping between the hard line and reformist camps. I would argue that this is because he is a pragmatic conservative, and his sermon today shows that he has concluded that shoe-horning Ahmadinejad into a second term by stealing the election is above all just not a practical course of action even for conservatives. He is playing a role similar to that of prominent American conservatives who defected to Obama in fall of 2008, because they just did not believe McCain-Palin were a practical alternative. Precisely because Rafsanjani is not a hard-edged ideologue, his clear ambivalence about the regime’s actions is all the more striking as an indication of the shaky situation in Iran.”

5. Aljazeera English’s video report on Rafsanjani’s sermon: See the video here.

6. Footage from the protest and clashes outside Friday prayers: See the video here.

7. More on the Internal Power Struggle: Khamenei and the IRGC vs Rafsanjani: “June 12th was a coup d’état by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family oligarchy. The Iranian economy has been the private turf of a handful of economic and political mafias since the revolution. Hashemi Rafsanjani and his extended family were among the first groups benefiting from Iran’s crony capitalism. Using his political influence as President of Iran, and Speaker of the Parliament, Rafsanjani created a vast family dynasty. Initiating the liberalization of the economy after the war with Iraq, Rafsanjani ushered an ambitious privatization program, allowing members of his family, and other insiders, to take possession of state property at far bellow market prices. The family made a fortune when Rafsanjani opened the oil industry to private Iranian contractors. By the end of the 1990s, the economic power of the family was unparalleled in Iran’s private sector. In recent years, however, the family dynasty has been facing fierce competition, particularly from IRGC. Since the 1990s, IRGC slowly transformed itself from a sheer military force, to a complex military, political, and economic oligarchy in control of main arteries of the Iranian economy. It is now a large holding company with multi-billion dollar, legal and illegal, contracts in oil, water, electricity, transport, foreign trade, and other economic sectors.”

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