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The Steadfast Front: Prime Suspect In Attacks Against Iran's Parliament Speaker

By Arash Bahmani, Rooz Online

Over a month has passed since the day when Majlis chief’s speech in Qom was disrupted by protesters. Now a website belonging to the principlists has posted a video clip that accuses the Steadfast Front to be the principal attackers on Larijani’s speech.

Some of the people who interrupted Larijani's speeach in Qom
Last Month's Events Continue to Haunt

Sarat News, a website said to be close to Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan newspaper who is directly appointed by Iran’s leader ayatollah Khamenei, has published a video of Larijani’s speech in Qom and other videos of other Steadfast Front gatherings. The news site asserts that supporters of the Front are the principal elements that attacked Larijani’s talk.

The Steadfast Front had organized the talks in Qom last month on the anniversary celebrations for the victory of the Islamic revolution in 1979. This political grouping came into being on the eve of the elections for the ninth Majlis by previous Ahmadinejad cabinet ministers with the support of ultra-conservative cleric ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. Its key leading members are Gholam Hossein Elham, Kamran Bagheri Lankarani, Mehrdad Bazrpash, Morteza Agha Tehrani, Hamid Rasai, Ali Aswar Zarei, Mehdi Kootchakzadeh, Kowsari and Ruhollah Hosseinian. This front refrained from joining the United Principlist Front (Jebhe Motahed Osoolgarayan) to form an alliance and put forward is own list of Majlis candidates. During the elections for the head of the Majlis too Gholam Ali Haddad put his support against Ali Larijani.

The video clip shows speeches given by some members of the Steadfast Front, such as Hamid Rasai and Mohammad Bagher Lankarani. The main trust of these talks was on issues relating to the supreme leader, criticism of Hashemi Rafsanjani, criticism of Ali Larijani and those Majlis speakers who had questioned the president during a parliamentary hearing. In his talk, Hamid Rasai harshly criticized Larijani to the point of accusing him of hiding behind the supreme leader.

The video clip mentions that Larijani had to abort his speech because of the commotion and disruptions in the hall. Soon after this event, many state officials and principlists condemned those who were behind the disruptions. Among them was Ahmad Janati, the secretary of the powerful Guardians Council who called the disruptive actions a “betrayal.” Another senior cleric, ayatollah Makarem Shirazi called on the officials in Qom to file a lawsuit against the perpetrators. A number of other senior ayatollahs too called for confronting such events. A week after this event, news media reported that a number of individuals had been arrested in connection with the Qom disruptions.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

But the issue did not die after these. Ayatollah Khamenei also intervened and publicly announced that he was opposed to what had taken place in Qom during Larijani’s talk. He also said that he had warned officials of such events earlier. It is significant that just three years ago on the anniversary of ayatollah Khomeini’s death, a number of supporters of Ahmadinejad shouted slogans against seyed Hassan Khomeini - ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson - in the presence of ayatollah Khamenei and prevented him from continuing his speech. That event however did not prompt any public response from the supreme leader.

During the last month, various principlist groups - i.e., staunch supporters of the supreme leader and critics of Ahmadinejad - called attacks during Larijani’s speeches to be orchestrated by the deviant group, a reference to some close allies of the president. These media outlets pointed to the attacks on the director of the movie titled “The Return is Near” and said that the perpetrators were close to Rahim Mashai. They also claim that they had in their possession video clips of meetings planning such attacks. Ali Motahari, the vocal Majlis critic of Ahmadinejad also had accused the governor of Qom and some security agencies to have played a role in the attacks on Larijani.

Soon after the attacks, Rahrovan Velayat (Followers of Clerical Leadership, a political Majlis faction that supports speaker Ali Larijani) issued a statement in which it announced that it was aware of the hands behind the protests. It added that it would not discuss these now because of the instructions of the supreme leader and in the best interest of the regime. But it did ask relevant agencies to immediately confront decisively the root causes - i.e., perpetrators - of these events which it said were against the national interest of the country.

On the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in 1979, both Ahmadinejad and Larijani made public speeches, the first in Tehran the latter in Qom. Larijani’s talk in Qom was interrupted by disrupters and cancelled while Ahmadinejad’s event ended without any incident.

A Majlis news site has initially announced that the protestors at Larijani’s event were very small in number and asserted that these individuals had been organized to disrupt events. It also published photos of the event. IRNA, Iran’s official news agency however, called the protestors “supporters of the supreme leader.”

Some of the people who interrupted Larijani's speeach in Qom

Kayhan’s editor Shariatmadari wrote that a number of “brothers” who had taken part in the disruptions of Larijani’s speech later had come to realize that they had been used, and added that they regretted their actions. Shariatmadari quoted these individuals to have said, “After we witnessed that some of the protestors were throwing prayer stones at the Majlis speaker and were bent on disrupting the celebrations, we realized that we had been used. The next day when we read what the leader had said about the event and that he had called it a betrayal, we felt guilty.”

Shariatmadari had also written that he had received text messages after the attacks on Larijani’s speech which made a reference to Ahmadinejad’s appearance in the Majlis the week prior to the Larijani incident and had called the speech disruption a “revenge”.

Kayhan expressly wrote that Ahmadinejad had been the culprit in the Majlis incident during the impeachment of the minister of labor and had added that the disruption of Larijani’s speech was a “premature” response by Ahmadinejad’s supporters.

Differences between Larijani and Ahmadinejad are not new, but the latest round of attacks and counter attacks began about a month ago when the Majlis summoned the president, a move that was stopped by the supreme leader. Then, Majlis representatives initiated procedures to questions, and ultimately dismiss, Ahmadinejad’s minister of labor. During the impeachment session Ahmadinejad showed a video in which Fazel Larijani, the brother of the Majlis speaker, was talking about a business deal with a former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortezavi. In the clip, Larijani promises to Mortezavi that he would use his influence in the judiciary and the Majlis to help him if he received help in securing a business deal. Larijani also said that he had done similar things in the past, further incriminating himself. The video and the assertions made about Fazel Larijani were harshly confronted by Majlis deputies which resulted in a high vote count to dismiss Ahmadinejad’s minister of labor, Sheikh ol-Islami. The attack on Larijani’s speech in Qom came a week after the humiliation that Ahmadinejad suffered at the hands of Larijani in the Majlis.

Soon after that, the supreme leader called the impeachment of the labor minister a “mistake” and criticized Larijani’s speech and Ahmadinejad’s actions.

... Payvand News - 03/16/13 ... --

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