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Has the Plan to Eliminate Rafsanjani Failed?

By Nazanin Kamdar, Rooz Online

Akbar Hashemi RafsanjaniEven though Hashemi Rafsanjani's remarks at the opening session of the Assembly of Experts on Saturday in which he for the first time referred to the demonstrators who came out into the streets across Iran on February 14 on calls from Green Movement leaders to demonstrate their support for the uprisings in the Middle East as inimical (Moaned), were disapproved by many Green Movement supporters, those in the right interpreted his change as a "tactic" to remain at the head of the powerful Assembly of Experts which is expected to have its internal elections in this session. Mahdavi Kani's unofficial rejection of running for leadership in the Assembly and his comment that he did it out of "respect" for Rafsanjani, have strengthened this view.

It should be noted that Rafsanjani's opponents had invested in ayatollah Mahdavi Kani as the replacement for Rafsanjani rather than ayatollah Mesbah Yazd who is closely affiliated to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

According to Iranian domestic media, with Kani's withdrawal, Rafsanjani chances of re-wining the chairmanship of the Assembly have bumped up. According to these news sites, including Aftab, which the news announcing Kani's withdrawal from the Assembly race was announced by Assadollah Badamchian published, the political secretary of the Motalefe Eslami party (Islamic Coalition) which is in a coalition with the Jame Rohaniyate Mobarez clerical association (Association of Combatant Clerics) led by Kani.

Badamchian's short announcement that, "The leadership of the Assembly of Experts would continue to be with Mr. Rafsanjani because ayatollah Mahdavi Kani would not be running in the elections out of respect for Mr. Rafsanjani." This short news was a bombshell, sending pro-government media scrambling for personalities to criticize the announcement and Badamchian.

The Majlis representative from the province of Kohkilooye va Booyer said, "One representative cannot speak for ayatollah Kani."

During the inaugural meeting of the Assembly last week, Rafsanjani said that he had offered the chairmanship of the Assembly to Kani during its last session and that he was not interested in the position.

Fars News agency called Rafsanjani's public criticism of the Green Movement a "tactical" move and editorialized that everyone knew that the current chairman of the Assembly was in sympathy with the opposition groups and their leaders, Mohammad Khatami, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi. It also asked why Rafsanjani had met with one of the leaders of the protestors on February 14, the very day that the protestors took to the streets across Iran to show their solidarity with the uprisings in the Middle East. The writer even claimed that Rafsanjani had urged the person he had met (without naming him) to increase the pressure. The piece concluded by saying that Rafsanjani had to respond to public questions on his change and support for the protestors whom it called counter-revolutionaries.

It should be noted that the conflict over whom should be the next chairman of the Assembly of Experts is not confined to the senior members of the Iranian regime, but includes laymen as well, which Saham News has labeled "Government Thugs," and sites that support Ahmadinejad or Rafsanjani.

... Payvand News - 03/03/11 ... --

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