Iran Daily: Regime Calls for Arbitration Between Ex-President Ahmadinejad and Judiciary Head

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) between judiciary head Sadeq Larijani (L) and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani at his swearing-in ceremony after the disputed 2009 Presidential election

The Iranian regime has called for arbitration in the battle between former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and head of judiciary Sadeq Amoli Larijani.

The message was put out through Tehran Friday Prayer leader Ayatollah Emami Kashani, who advised, “The problems should not be publicly tabled. Some elders should be selected to weigh your words against the other’s side and address the problem.”

Ahmadinejad has feuded with the Larjani brothers — including judiciary head Sadeq, Speaker of Parliament Ali, and senior judiciary official Mohammad Javad — for years, accusing them of corruption and illegal acquisition of property. In recent weeks, the dispute has escalated as Ahmadinejad’s allies have faced long prison terms and Parliament’s Audit Court found the former President guilty of diverting $3 billion in State funds and ordering him to repay the money.

Last weekend Ahmadinejad issued a 48-hour video ultimatum for the judiciary to publish documents in the cases against him, calling its head a “greedy, land-grabbing tyrant” and a totally “unjust” official who should immediately resign to avoid the collapse of the ruling system.

Sadeq Larijani ordered his staff to produce some of the documents. But at the same, the judiciary put out a more powerful signal with the imposition of a 63-year sentence on Ahmadinejad’s forver Vice President Hamid Baghaei for misuse of public funds.

Ayatollah Kashani called for a compromise for the sake of the regime, “Many unfounded claims might be presented and tenfold enlarged by the media, which leads to public disturbance and disappointing the authorities.”

Yet the judiciary showed no signs of backing down. It announced the sentence of another senior Ahmadinejad advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, to six months in prison. Last Thursday Javanfekr wrote on a pro-Ahmadinejad site, “If the head of the judiciary insists on staying in power, no option will be left other than asking Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to dismiss him for the sake of recovering the judiciary’s tainted reputation.”

Last month Baghaei, Javanfekr, and a third Ahmadinejad associate tried to claim sanctuary in a south Tehran shrine to avoid court summons, as the former President rallied the crowd outside with provocative speeches.

The Supreme Leader has made no comment on the dispute or on Ahmadinejad, who is still a member of the Expediency Council despite his fight with regime figures.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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