As the March 8th and 9th session of Iran's Assembly of Experts
on Leadership approaches, posturing against its chairman, veteran politician
Hashemi Rafsanjani is on the rise. Some even openly speak of the need to replace
him. One member of the 86-man body that is constitutionally charged with
monitoring the work of Iran's supreme leader and can remove the leader or elect
a new one told reporters that Rafsanjani was the "axis of the seditionists" and
added that people even booed some of the Assembly members.
Ayatollah Akbar Gharebaghi, the Assembly from West Azerbaijan province told Fars news agency affiliated with the military-security establishment of Iran, "Every lover of the revolution expected Mr. Hashemi who has been president, Tehran's Friday prayer leader, and now heads the State Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts on Leadership to be the leader in confronting the audacity of the seditionists rather than become the axis for them." Seditionists is the label that Iranian authorities use for Iran's opposition and Green Movement leaders.
"Unfortunately, by relying on Mr. Hashemi, seditionists have confronted the Islamic revolution. Till today Mr. Rafsanjani has not separated himself from seditionists and this absence of separation from them is the key reason why I say that Mr. Hashemi was the axis of the 2009 sedition. To speak without formalities, I would say that Mr. Hashemi played the central role in the 2009 sedition," he said.
In defending the Assembly and disassociating Rafsanjani from it, this cleric said, "There are more than 80 members in the body and almost all of them are in line with the revolution and the leader and have no problems. But there are a few in the Assembly whom people boo. These Assembly members are not Muslims because if any one who revolts against the Islamic nature of the revolution is in fact not a Muslim." "Mr. Hashemi's posture has nothing to do with the Experts Assembly on Leadership: he is only one member and one cannot say that he is the leader of the body."
While attacks Rafsanjani because of his position regarding the fraudulent 2009 election are not new, and he has been the subject of such attacks by personalities from the ruling establishment, but such direct remarks by an Assembly member are very rare. It is clear that they are made in response to Rafsanjani's recent reassertions of his position in support of needed changes in the Islamic republic which he outlined in his last Friday prayer sermon last year.
Prior to this, security authorities, Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) commanders and even the representative of ayatollah Khamenei in the IRGC had asserted that Rafsanjani had a hand in leading the post 2009 election protests and had even said that he was the fifth column of the seditionists.
Just last week, speaking at a seminar in the city of Qom, Mojtaba Zolnood, the deputy representative of ayatollah Khamenei in the IRGC said, "During last year's sedition, the foundations of the regime and the Velayat Faghih (rule of clerics) was attacked and unfortunately Mr. Hashemi had turned into one of the poles of that tent." And in what may amount to signaling the direction that the next meeting of the Assembly may take, he added that people could request their representative in the Assembly to make a change in the body's leadership.
Khamenei's Trips to Qom and Mesbah Yazdi's Choice
In a related story, following ayatollah Khamenei's recent visit to Qom where he held talks with the senior ayatollahs in the city, the website of Mesbah Yazdi, one of those Khamenei visited during the trip, posted a questionnaire to its purportedly student readers about their views on "replacing Hashemi as the head of the Experts with a more suitable person." This development was also important because a number of establishment authorities and supports of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had mentioned Mahdavi Kani, the current head of Imam Sadegh University and an active member of the Experts of Assembly as a possible replacement of Rafsanjani at the Assembly. But that idea may have run into problems as Kani himself does not seem to be interested in the position, as explained by ayatollah Hashem Hashemzadeh Harasi. He specifically said that while he had heard that Kani had been recommended for the position, but that he had declined it.
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