Obedience to the Leader, Defense of People, Criticism of the Administration
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (L) & President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) with Ayatollah Khamanei
Two years after the controversial presidential election of 2009 and at the height of the differences between Ahmadinejad and ayatollah Khamenei, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani spoke with reporters and stressed his and Majlis’s absolute obedience to the leader and said that velayate faghih (i.e., rule of clerics) was the “outstanding” feature of the Islamic republic. He also criticized Ahmadinejad’s administration and said “demonstrations” and “protests” were people rightful rights.
Speaking to Fars news agency, Larijani stressed on ayatollah Khamenei’s role in Majlis’s decision-making process. “In my opinion our (political) system has an outstanding center called velayate faghih and if during the different periods of time not enough attention was paid to this position, during the imam’s (i.e., Khomeini) presence and that of grand ayatollah Khamenei, then the country would suffer.”
“We at the Majlis sometimes pass something but when we realize that the leader has a different view, then we change our position. I think this is one of the positive aspects of the eight Majlis in that when it understands the views of the leader, it acts on it,” he said. Last June/July, when a group of administration supporters gathered outside the Majlis and chanted pro-government slogans, Larijani defended the Majlis and called the “Khamenei Majlis.”
Last week’s remarks by Larijani come at a time when there are reports about ayatollah Khamenei’s direct orders into the workings of the eight Majlis. Some Majlis representatives last week said that the removal of the questions and summons of the president by the Majlis was done on orders from the supreme leader.
Ruhollah Hosseinian, a representative with strong security links and the head of the Islamic revolution faction inside the parliament had that in view of the recent meeting of Majlis representatives with the supreme leader, this bill was “definitely not supported” by ayatollah Khamenei.
The list of questions for Ahmadinejad had been signed by some 100 Majlis deputies and had been officially submitted to the leadership of the parliament. According to Ali Motahari, the list contained 11 questions, of which three were economic, three related to the implementation of laws, three were political and the last two were cultural. The questions that were presented as a resolution were subsequently removed from the agenda of the Majlis.
Another Majlis deputy, Fatemeh Elia, who is a known supporter of Ahmadinejad in the parliament, also made a reference to ayatollah Khamenei’s recent meeting with Majlis deputies and said that the leader was not in favor of the questions.
Two weeks ago when Ahmadinejad appeared before the parliamentarians to present and defend his minister of sports and youth, Majlis deputies had booed him. Ayatollah Khamenei expressed his displeasure of this to the Majlis leadership and parliamentarians and ordered that from then the name of any person who booed anyone in the Majlis would be announced to the public and by the Majlis itself.
No Problems with the Administration
In his interview, Larijani also spoke of the many differences between the Majlis and the administration and acknowledged the supreme leader’s interventions to resolve them, and discussed in detail the recent differences between the Majlis and the government over the removal of some cabinet members and ministry merges.
“The government could have worked better and shrinking the size of the administration is a logical point, particularly by implementing article 44 of the constitution. At the time that when the fifth development plan was being drafted, there were discussion between the Majlis and the government based on which we wanted a smaller government. We also had a prior experience on this and the Majlis had approved the creation of the ministry of sports and youth affairs while the government took an opposing position on that then, which it should not have,” Larijani told Fars news agency.
Larijani went on, “We wanted to help the government succeed and reduce its ministries so that what had happened to the ministry of sports would not be repeated thus opening the door to assertions that the Majlis had made the decision on its own. So we asked the government to present its proposal and there was no need to hastily remove the ministers and then claim that mergers had taken place.” Larijani’s reference to exactly what the administration did: dismiss a number of ministers and then when the Majlis was not cooperative in approving new ministerial candidates, announced the merger of a number of ministries.
The speaker of the Majlis also complained that the administration did not consult it and work with it on its plans regarding cabinet ministries. “We were against ministry mergers and told this to the government but they ignored us after which we thought we had to defend the rights of people and so resisted the government’s efforts,” he said.
Larijani then talked about the supreme leader’s intervention in the matter and said, “I asked the Guardians Council and they had a similar view to ours (i.e., ministry mergers required Majlis approval as did the appointment of ministers.) Still they ignored this which is when the supreme leader intervened based on his constitutional prerogative.”
In the course of establishing the ministry of sports, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refrained for a long time to appointing a minister to the new institution. In the course of some ministry mergers, the president also removed some ministers such as those of the ministries of oil, welfare and industries, and then merged these ministries into other existing ministries and then announced new cabinet ministers for these ministries, arguing that ministers for the merged ministries did not require Majlis approval.
Towards the end of his interview, Larijani expressed the conclusion of the differences between the administration and the Majlis in this regard but also made some telling remarks when he said, “It is possible that one or two other ministries such as power and oil may be merged in the future, but there is no haste in that because we have two years left.”
Demonstrations are the Rights of People
In another part of his interview, Larijani referred to his remarks after the disputed 2009 presidential election and, on the eve of the two upcoming elections, tried to side with the people and the regime simultaneously.
It should be noted that during the last two years, the hardline pro-government media had called him an “un-wise” person because during a televised program in 2009 he had acknowledged public protests. “That at what I said during a televised interview was because many events had taken place in Tehran and the city was under tension and some people had even been killed; That night the goal was to calm things down. To do that you need not be harsh but must aim to calm the atmosphere so that the parties could feel that there were institutions and people that would investigate and look into the events.”
“in that interview, I stressed the views of the supreme leader and also the need to implement the law and said that the laws of the country must be implemented. Therefore, my word then and now is the law. But on the issue of people being able to demonstrate, I agree with this and people can demonstrate but within the law and not without permission,” Larijani continued. “If people have complaints, they will be investigated and this is something I always believe in. We cannot say that if people have demands they will not be looked into. Even the supreme leader said at a Friday prayer that we will investigate. He had his own interpretation of events, but still said that there would be an investigation.”
Larijani take this conciliatory position today even though last year when the leaders of the Green Movement requested a permit to hold a peaceful demonstration which in fact resulted in large demonstrations around the country, he expressly opposed the request. “[They] should not give permission for the demonstrations and even if the ministry of the interior made a mistake in granting it, the Majlis and the specific minister would have defiantly confronted it. How can we close our eyes to the realities of the counter revolution and the United States?” he asked.
“When I feel that I understand the view of the leader, I will act. It is of course possible that my view may be different from that of the leader, but when I realize his view, I correct myself,” Larijani said to indicate his obedience to the supreme leader.
Talking about other issues, Larijani continued, “Some believe that by ignoring some events such as what happened at the Kahrizak detention center, they can administer the country.” “If some people committed injustice against the regime, lower administrators should not engage in doing the same to others. Injustice will always return badly.”
Some hardline individuals who support Ahmadinejad have repeated claimed after the 2009 presidential election that Majlis speaker Ali Larijani and his brother Sadegh Larijani the head of the judiciary branch of government had sent congratulatory messages to Mir-Hossein Mousavi as the winner of the presidential 2009 race.
Sadegh Larijani has denied this and has defended his brother also to be against those who question the integrity of the 2009 elections.
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