LATEST: Slap on Wrist for Ahmadinejad Advisor over Post-Election Deaths in 2009?
Hassan Rouhani will not be inaugurated as President for another month, but already elements within the regime are putting out warnings that he best behave himself in office.
The Revolutionary Guards lead the way with the Cultural Advisor, Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, setting out guidelines: Rouhani is not a Reformist but is someone who will be active “within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
Saffar Harandi added that Rouhani did not criticize the system — and thus the Supreme Leader — during his campaign, buy only “criticized the present [Ahmadinejad] administration or trends that were pursued by the administration”.
MP and former Revolutionary Guards commander Esmail Kowsari said that, if Rouhani “does not perform in a non-partisan way, the Parliament will certainly react”.
And the hard-line Kayhan gets specific, challenging Rouhani for the thanks he gave to former President Mohammad Khatami, key backer of the President-elect’s campaign in its final days: “With attention to the destructive role that [Khatami] had in the sedition [protests over the disputed 2009 Presidential election], it exacerbates concerns that Dr. Rouhani might neglect the danger that the leaders and agents of the sedition could pose for his administration.”
The latest volleys follow last week’s declaration by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a Tehran Friday Prayers leader, “The Supreme Leader is the articulation of the will of the people in the Islamic Republic, and no one, not even the president-elect, can take contrary positions.”
Ayatollah Khamenei’s senior military advisor, Yahiya Rahim-Safavi, added, “We saw many political and religious leaders, and ministers and officials who did not end with righteous fates. My most important advice is for everyone to pursue a righteous fate.”
According to new inflation figures from the Central Bank, prices of certain basic foodstuffs in Iran have increased, with the price of chicken rising 9.3% in just one week.
Since last year, prices of all foods apart from chicken have risen sharply: dairy by 43.4%, eggs by 68.3%, rice by 63.3%, beans by 107.3%, fresh fruit by 26.1%, fresh vegetables by 72.8%, red meat by 56.2%, poultry by 1.9%, sugar and oil by 41.8%, tea by 100.5% and vegetable oil by 58.2%.
Confusion and anger still swirl over the outcome of the trial of Presidential advisor Saeed Mortazavi, accused of complicity in the abuse and murder of three post-election protesters in the Kahrizak detention center in summer 2009.
Mehr News Agency said Mortazavi — Tehran Prosecutor General in 2009 — was found innocent of that charge and was only fined 2,000,000 Rials (about $160 at official rate; $65 at open-market rate) for “giving a false report”.
Mehr said Mortazavi, his then-assistant Ali Akbar Heydarifar, and Judge Haddad were sentenced to permanent dismissal from the judiciary for illegal arrests, as well as being barred for five years from public employment.
However, authorities have chided other officials for releasing news before the sentences were confirmed, and the outcomes are still not official.
The three judiciary officials were charged with issuing the order to transfer detainees to Kahrizak Prison during the election protests of 2009, knowing that they would be subjected to mistreatment. The transfer resulted in the deaths of at least three detainees: Amir Javadifar, Mohsen Ruholamini, and Mohammad Kamrani.
Reports indicate that the sentences could be appealed within 20 days of their issuance.
A report in the pro-reform Shargh daily quotes Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei — outgoing president Ahmadinejad’s right-hand man — as saying that Ahmadinejad and his loyalists will “return” to power someday.
Mehr News reports that Iran’s non-oil exports reached $9.75 billion during the first quarter of the current — Persian — calendar year (beginning 21 March), with $9.39 billion of non-oil imports during the same period. PressTV noted that the main exports included methanol, iron ore, bitumen and gas condensates.
However, unlike Mehr News, it chose not to report that Iran’s non-oil exports in the previous calendar year totalled $43.7 billion — an average of $10.93 billion per quarter, suggesting a decline of $1.18 billion for the first quarter of the year.
Authorities also reported that the country’s tourism revenue hit $8 billion in the past calendar year, attracting roughly 4 million foreign tourists.
President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s rhetoric of expanding relations with neighbouring countries is being pushed by state media PressTV this morning with an article highlighting the importance of strengthening regional ties.
In a message to the King of Oman, Rouhani said “Expanding ties with the neighboring countries and strengthening regional cooperation in order to maintain peace and provide the interests of the regional nations is one of the foreign policy priorities of Iran’s 11th administration.” The article notes that Rouhani has made similar declarations to Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Singapore.
The president-elect has also assured Jordan that during his administration Iran will seek to closer ties with all Muslim countries.
A curious incident on Tuesday — Fars News, close to the Revolutionary Guards, posted what it claimed was a interview with Alan Ayre, the US State Department’s Persian-language spokesman — but then removed the interview from its website almost immediately. A cached copy can be seen here.
Among the things Fars quoted Eyre as saying:
“America respects those people who went out and voted”
“In his campaign, President-elect Rouhani made pledges to develop and promote individual freedom for all Iranians and we hope that he will act on those promises. In addition, we hope that international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program will be resolved, so that sanctions can be lifted.”
“The American government knows that the final decision on strategic matters, including the nuclear issue, are made by the Supreme Leader”
Russia Today has posted a short version of its interview with President Ahmadinejad, who is in Moscow for a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum and a meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin:
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has visited human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is on a four-day furlough from her six-year prison sentence for “acting against national security, propaganda against the regime, and membership in the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights”.
Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 and convicted three months later. She is also banned from practicing law and traveling abroad for 20 years.
Sotoudeh has become a prominent symbol of resistance against the oppressive policies of Islamic Republic authorities because of the hunger strikes she has undergone to protest the mistreatment of families of political prisoners.
During his visit, Khatami expressed hope for the release of all political prisoners so that “everyone can serve the people and the country….[This] would benefit everyone, especially the system and the country, and would make the future much more hopeful.”
According to Radio Zamaneh, Sotoudeh told the former President, “We are all concerned for the country and do not consider ourselves to be dissenters; however, we do believe that different opinions should be allowed expression in complete security.”