Iran’s state-run national radio and television network, Seda va Sima, recently ran a documentary on how the first president of the Islamic republic was removed from power and implied similarities between that presidency and Ahmadinejad’s possible future. The movie instantly became the talk of the town. But amid the relative disregard by the principlists - the groups that are the staunch supporters of the country’s supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei - Ahmadinejad’s supporters promptly and aggressively reacted to the broadcast and called the contents of the documentary “rubbish.”
Hassan Bani-Sadr (L) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The website Iran directly run and operated by the government published a comment in which it said that the Bani-Sadrization of Ahmadinejad had initially been launched by Hashemi Rafsanjani some years ago. The site published a chart listing the speeches that Rafsanjani had made between the years 2010 and 2012 in which he had associated Bani-Sadr with Ahmadinejad and wrote that, In Iran’s political jargon, the name Abolhassan Bani-Sadr was an implied reference to Ahmadinejad and Bani-Sadrization - the act of removing the president from office - was the most important project of Ahmadinejad’s opponents. Comparing Bani-Sadr with Ahmadinejad was first done by Rafsanjani in a letter that the latter had sent to the supreme leader.”
The article further said that Rafsanjani possessed unique ability and capacity to influence the political elite of Iran and that he advanced his political projects very patiently and gradually but consistently. The story also said that another way to look at the Bani-Sadrization project was that the person who was defeated in the 2005 and 2009 elections would instinctly view Ahmadinejad to be Bani-Sadr as a way to re-enliven his own subsequent ascent and leader of the revolution.
But others too have made similar connections. During the speech of the opening session of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership, its current head Mahdavi Kani, made a reference to the fate of Bani-Sadr and the issues that caused him to get a vote of political incompetence by the Majlis and said, “People will tolerate everything but definitely not this division and conflict.” He continued, “Bani-Sadr had come to believe that if 11 million people voted for him then he was free to do whatever he wanted. But a country that is led by a velayate faghih (a cleric) and whose people have given plenty of martyrs to protect their revolution would not accept such behavior. Regarding Bani-Sadr too the imam (i.e., ayatollah Khomeini) waited patiently for a long time because he accepted that Bani-Sadr had the vote of many people. But in his later days, Bani-Sadr had become very disruptive and so he formed oversight groups such as Mr. Yazdi and the late Eshraghi. Mr. Hashemi (Rafsanjani) too was present and saw what was happening.”
These words were relayed after Majlis head Ali Larijani had also re-told the events that resulted in Bani-Sadr’s removal from the presidency. Larijani had said, “One of our problems before and after the revolution was that some shoe-less individuals (meaning deprived and poor) would enter the political field and then make superficial comments without bearing any efforts. Bani-Sadr too had not struggled and so had not understood the path of the struggle and so his remarks were off the mark.”
Last Sunday, Iran’s state-run television network aired the documentary titled, Unpleasant Outcome (Saranjam Namobarak) which replayed Bani-Sadr’s presidency. The documentary is noteworthy because just a few months ago some principlist groups (groups that support the supreme leader) had warned Ahmadinejad that he could face the same fate as Bani-Sadr, i.e., be voted to be politically incompetent - impeached - if he continued his current path and practices.
An issue that has made the documentary even more controversial and newsworthy is the use of the term “deviant current” (jaryane enherafi) which is a reference by the principlist to a group of Ahmadinejad supporters and allies who advance ideas that are in contradiction with those of the supreme leader. Rahim Mashai is the leading personality in the deviant current. He has been formally accused of financial corruption and informally of trying to get rid of the position of the supreme leader in the power structure of Iran. Even Ahmadinejad’s brother had some time ago said that the deviant current was ready to take up arms against the Islamic republic.
Ahmadinejad’s supporters have protested the documentary. One of them perhaps summarized their dilemma when he said, “On one hand they call Ahmadinejad’s expose of corruption (a reference to the video tape that showed Fazel Larijani to be making an improper business deal) to be un-Islamic while they themselves publish an insinuating documentary that compares the Ahmadinejad with Bani-Sadr.” Another supporter said that by making this comparison, they were in fact rehabilitating Bani-Sadr and saying that perhaps he too had been subjected to the same lies and destruction.
Another prominent and influential figure who commented on the documentary is Habibollah Asghar-Owladi, the secretary general of the Alliance of the Followers of Imam’s and the Leader’s Path who said, “This was a translation of today’s events and is instructive to current officials to learn from. What the supreme leader is dealing with today is a copy of the pain that the Imam (i.e., ayatollah Khomeini) was going through in his time.”
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