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Rooz Interview with Mehdi Khazali: Both Factions of Iranian Regime are Collapsing

By Fereshteh Ghazi, Rooz Online

Mehdi Khazali believes that the Iranian parliament this week voted to keep Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's minister of the economy because of threats by Ahmadinejad and deals made behind the scenes. He believes both ruling factions of the regime are on the verge of collapse. Mehdi Khazali made headlines a few years ago when he pronounced that Ahmadinejad had Jewish background. He heads the cultural-publishing house of Aba Saleh. Read on for the details of the interview with Rooz.

Mehdi Khazali, head of Iran's Medical Data Bank (now banned), wrote condemning blogs regarding the violent reaction of the government to the widespread protests to the alleged vote fraud in the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. He has been arrested few times starting in the summer of 2009 when he was released after three weeks in jail.

Mehdi Khazali is the son of the well-known ultra-conservative Iranian cleric ayatollah Khazali who leads the ultra-right group Hojjatieh and who takes credit for such ultra-conservative views as calling for a ban on Iran's longest tradition of celebrating the Nowruz new year and is a member of the Experts Assembly on Leadership,


Rooz: Immediately after the Majlis vote of confidence on the minister of economy who is widely accused of embezzlement in the country's major fraud case you wrote that the Majlis voted for embezzlement. What led the Majlis to vote positively on the minister of economy who seemed to be on his way out of the cabinet?

Mehdi Khazali: I believe that if an embezzlement of this magnitude had taken place in any country, causing the deepest recession, the least consequence would have been the resignation of the minister of economy or his removal from office, along with bank managers who were also accomplices to the fraud. The summons yesterday too was in fact a challenge to the policies of the administration which has resulted in this huge financial chaos. So it was expected that the minister of economy would fall. But because of last minute threats by Ahmadinejad and his aides, the minister got a vote of confidence!

Rooz: Do you think deals were made behind the scene to get this vote of confidence?

Khazali: Agreements have been reached behind the scene. You noticed that even the Speaker of the Majlis voted for the minister to stay. But still nobody came to defend the minister or the economic policies of the administration. Every one stayed on the sidelines and the mood in the Majlis was clearly against the minister. But the voting was though secret vote allowing the ministers to hide the identity of their votes. But this won't work. They voted this way out of fear to stay in power for another two years. This is like a cancer which will spread if not dealt with. Eventually they will have to cut it off, but the body may not have the strength to recover. In fact, these gentlemen are afraid that this surgery may result in their own death as well.

Rooz: When you talk about threats by Ahmadinejad and his aides are you referring to the documents that are said to have been removed from the ministry of intelligence by him? Was the deal to keep the minister of economy in return for not disclosing the contents of the removed document? This is a sort of ransom.

Khazali: Each of the ruling factions of the regime posses documents against the other which they threaten to expose forcing the other side to accept their terms on various issues. But such deals are useless. Both factions are sick and corruption is omnipresent while people have no sympathies for either side. They are wise and aware. They are not after the billion or 12 billion dollars but are asking what happened to the 600 billion dollars in oil revenues during the recent years. We ask about the reserve fund. Why must it remain secret, and there are many other questions that need to be answered after the planning and budget organization was dissolved. So the issue is much larger than just the minister of the economy.

Rooz: So where are we going and what lies ahead?

Khazali: Unfortunately these gentlemen do not want to accept that they are moving downhill and that their every word is digested carefully by the public. This downhill trend is steep. They will go and those who will try to rescue them will fail.

Rooz: Who exactly do you mean? Are you talking about Ahmadinejad and his associates or even beyond that?

Khazali: I am talking about both ruling factions of the regime. Both will fall together. Ahmadinejad's fall will not be celebrated by the others. They will go down together and Ahmadinejad will take them there.

Rooz: Yesterday in an interview with Noorizadeh, he said that we on the verge of a colossal fall and he pointed to Libya. You and him both are critiquing the regime from the inside and have both received prison sentences as a consequence. So let me be blunt: do you mean that the regime of the Islamic republic will fall? What will happen to ayatollah Khamenei?

Khazali: We have gone to the war fronts, and done other acts because we have sincerely followed the events of the regime. We want the regime to stay. There is plenty of criticism. We even believe that the constitution should be revised and amended. People must come forward without being screened by Mr. Janati (from the Guardians Council that vets candidates). We will do anything to keep the regime, but we think it is already too late. I think the regime will survive but not those who we thought would be part of it. Even well wishers will not be able to do anything. The direction of events is towards collapse. And everyday takes us further from stopping it as the momentum of the fall picks up speed. Efforts to protect individuals will not succeed. What happened in Libya was heartburning and cost dearly. If our leaders are wise they can enact reform peacefully, without bloodshed and violence and war. And I hope they are wise. I see plenty of support among the public for the Basij, the Guards, the courts, etc. For example, if the Guards Force attacks me verbally at the Media Fair, immediately after it members of the force call me and express their sympathies with me. Prison guards tell me that they cry when prisoners sing traditional Iranian folksongs. If the current atmosphere of terror is lifted people move in a different direction.

Rooz: On one hand you talk of the downhill drag of the regime while on the other you hope that authorities will be wise. How realistic is this hope? Mr. Khamenei, who is central to the regime, has not shown any moderation.

Khazali: When your loved one is in a comma you have hopes that he will recover. The regime is now in a comma even though it is alive through artificial respiration. We hope it will revive and recover. I hope will succeed in the path they have chosen, a path defined by Iranian culture and I hope we do not experience what happened in Libya. We experienced this 33 years ago and so should not have to do it again.

Rooz: What effect do you think the events in Libya and Syria will have on Iran?

Khazali: The victory of every revolution has a positive impact on people and energizes our people. It is also destructive morally for the other side. Particularly what happens in Syria. I believe if the Syrian revolution succeeds the biggest hurdle on our way will have been removed and many beliefs of the ruling groups will change.

Rooz: We have the next round of Majlis elections ahead. How do you see this?

Khazali: I gave an interview to the official news agency IRNA. It was censored. I said if all our demands are met, political prisoners released, freedom is returned to the people, appointed supervision is lifted, and elections are held completely free, we should still not take part in elections. This is because we are short on time. Look, we need 200,000 monitors over voting precincts which we cannot provide in the short remaining time. In the last elections, many of our monitors were not issued permits by the government and among those who did receive permits, half were infiltrators from the other side. Taking part in elections now is like suicide for reformers. This is because there is not enough time to organize and supervise. Our best friends and allies are in prison and those that are not will not be approved to run in the elections. Because elections will not be competitive there is no point in participating in them.

Rooz: Since you and your father have such opposing views, how is your relationship? How is this relationship impacting your views?

Khazali: I respect my father and am also close to him. We put time into conversations together. We have father and son talks. But I am also on the right path in my views and as time passes get stronger convictions regarding them.

Rooz: But government media has repeatedly said that your relations with your father have been broken and that he has in a way denounced you.

Khazali: I had lunch with my father just a few days ago and we have a warm, sincere and friendly relations. He says there is no day that he does not pray for me. At one time my father had said that we had to support Ahmadinejad and vote for him, but now he himself considers this administration to be off course and does not support Ahmadinejad.

Rooz: My last question is about Mr. Abbas Palizdar. Since you have always followed this case, can you tell me where is this case now. Some have said that he has been released from prison because of health issues. Is this true? (Note: Abbas Palizdar was an Iranian parliamentarian who headed an investigation committee that looked into financial corruption in the Islamic republic. He was arrested when his findings revealed widespread corruption in the country in 2008 and then imprisoned.)

Khazali: He has not been released. He is in hospital, but under security. He had three security guards when he was in the intensive care unit and his hands and feet were tied to the bed. He did not have a telephone line and for all practical purposes he was still in prison. He has a heart condition and his doctor just yesterday said that he could not be healed. This stressful condition is not helpful for his health. In fact his conditions are suitable for killing him. His wife yesterday announced that if his condition is going to continue the way it is now, it is better to return him to prison.

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

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