Iran's Supreme Leader Warns Opposition About 'Instability'
By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Iran's supreme leader has warned the country's opposition against any actions
that could destabilize the Islamic establishment, saying the country's "elite"
should be cautious about the positions they take on the postelection crisis.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the disruption of security as "the biggest
sin," and added that anyone who drives society toward insecurity and disorder
will be "a hated person in the view of the Iranian nation, whoever he is."
"The elite should know that any comment, any action, any analysis, that helps
[the enemy] is an act contrary to the nation's movement. We all have to be very
careful," Khamenei said.
He continued: "Some things shouldn't be said. If we do say it, then we have
acted against our responsibility. [Iran's] elite are facing a test. It's a great
Khamenei made the comments just three days after influential former President
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said many Iranians had lost their trust in the
establishment following the country's hotly disputed June 12 presidential vote.
Rafsanjani said the vote has led to a crisis in which all sides have lost. He
proposed a number of ways to remedy the situation, including the release of all
those who have been detained in the postelection crackdown.
While Rafsanjani has come under fire from hard-liners for his comments, a number
of reformist figures and groups have welcomed his comments and the solutions he
offered during his Friday Prayer sermon on June 17.
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said on July 19 that Rafsanjani's
suggestions are the bare minimum needed to calm the atmosphere in the country.
Khatami added that a referendum should be held through which Iranians could
indicate whether they are satisfied with the status quo or not.
Khatami suggested that the referendum should be held by "independent bodies,"
including the Expediency Council, which Rafsanjani heads.
The Association of Combatant Clerics, a reformist party, has backed Khatami's
call, saying in a statement that a referendum would be the only way out of the
current crisis and that "insistence on ineffective options would further damage
The call for a referendum is seen as a challenge to Khamenei, who on June 19
described the election result and the high turnout as a show of people's trust
in the Islamic system.
In his statement on July 20, Khamenei did not directly comment on the
suggestions by Rafsanjani and Khatami, but observers believe his comments were
clearly directed at those who have disputed the election results.
Khamenei's comments further expose the divisions within the Iranian
establishment that have widened since the June 12 vote.
While Khamenei has made it clear that the election file is closed, others --
including reformist presidential candidates Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi
-- have called the new government illegitimate.
Meanwhile, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is putting together his new cabinet and
getting ready for his August swearing-in ceremony.
Neither of the two camps appears to be willing to back down.
Alireza Haghighi, a Toronto-based political analyst, told Radio Farda that
Khamenei believes that those who question the vote are endangering the
"In his view, comments such as those made by Rafsanjani in the Friday Prayers
can create distrust in the system, and in fact the crisis can be exploited by
the enemies of the establishment inside and outside and countries that are at
odds with Iran over its nuclear program and other issues."
While Khamenei seemed to be telling the opposition to stop its protests, another
demonstration is planned for July 21 to mourn the victims of the violent
repression of peaceful protesters.
last demonstration took place on July 17 following
Rafsanjani's sermon. The appearance of hundreds of thousands of protesters on
the streets of Tehran was seen as giving the protest movement a new boost.
While meeting with the families of some of those who have been detained in the
aftermath of the election, former Prime Minister Musavi -- who is seen by many
as the leader of the opposition movement -- said people should have the right to
protest and express themselves freely.
He said Iranians cannot be silenced with what he described as a return to
Copyright (c) 2009 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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