LATEST: Halt to Imports Because of Foreign Exchange Problems?
Less than a week before the inauguration of President-elect Hassan Rouhani, but the Supreme Leader is not in a good mood, according to his office and State media.
On Sunday, Ayatollah Khamenei addressed students in Tehran. His office’s summary of the speech on Twitter — in heated and confusing language — indicated that the Supreme Leader still resents the protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election:
#Leader in today’s meeting:those who condemned state 4rigging in 2009 say the contrary in private. So why did u impose those damages 2CNTRY?
— khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) July 28, 2013
Perhaps the Supreme Leader was warning his audience never to think of taking of the streets. However, he also had other troubles on his mind, in this case the political turmoil in Egypt. Press TV summarises:
Ayatollah Khamenei said, “the depth of the Islamic Awakening is existent in these countries, but because issues have been mismanaged and [they] blundered, today, the situation in the great country of Egypt has become very painful.”
Beyond that careful, coded language is the Islamic Republic’s disappointment with the failure of the “Islamic Awakening” that it proclaimed in early 2011, just after the overthrow of the Mubarak regime.
Of particular interest is Khamenei’s reference to issues being “mismanaged”, a slap at the Muslim Brotherhood and other forces behind the recently-deposed Morsi Government. Tehran had proclaimed an alliance with the Brotherhood after the 2011 Revolution, looking for it to lead the Awakening — and thus support Iranian interest — in the Middle East.
That ambition was immediately checked, however, by the military rule over Egypt in 2011-12. More importantly, it was checked by the Brotherhood and President Morsi after he took office in June 2012. Far from endorsing Tehran’s positions, Morsi challenged them on issues from Palestine to Syria. The highlight, or low-light for the Supreme Leader, was the Egyptian President’s declaration — at no less than the podium of the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit in Tehran in August 2012 — that Iran’s Syrian ally was responsible for the bloodshed in the country.
But the Supreme Leader’s bitterness, even as he said the Islamic Awakening is an “very important issue that cannot be ruined by the West’s antitheses” — is not just about the past. It holds the practical question for the present: what does Tehran do now about the situation in Egypt, Syria, and the Middle East when that Awakening does not awaken?
The head of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce Imports Commission, Majidreza Hariri, has announced that all imports to Iran since the start of July. Hariri said, “The Central Bank has stopped giving any foreign currency to either private or government importers for more than 20 days.” Hariri, claiming the shut-off had caused shortages of drugs and food, blamed a lack of coordination between the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Trade, and the Central Bank. The suspension may also be due to concerns over foreign reserves amid a sharp decline in Iran’s oil revenues.
English-language State news agency Press TV claimed on Monday that Google has prevented it from uploading new videos to its YouTube channel since Thursday. Press TV newsroom director, Hamid Reza Emadi said that Google had “disabled the channel’s account without giving any explanation”. Emadi said Press TV “has yet to find out whether its Youtube account was blocked on political grounds or there were technical issues that could be resolved and the channel could get back on Youtube very soon.” It appears the problem relates only to new uploads. Google has not closed Press TV’s YouTube channel and it remains accessible to viewers and the videos uploaded there are available to watch.
As the inauguration of President-elect Hassan Rouhani draws closer — he will be formally sworn-in as President on August 4 — lists have begun to circulate in the Iranian press of possible contenders for his cabinet. Both ISNA and Mehr News said Rouhani would nominate Mohammad Forouzandeh as head of the Supreme National Security Council. Forouzandeh currently heads the Bonyad-e Mostazafen va Janbazan [Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled] , a charitable foundation and Iran’s second-largest commercial enterprise. The two agencies have also predicated that Rouhani will appoint Bijan Zanganeh as Oil Minister — Zanganeh had that role in former President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s government — and former U.N. envoy Mohammad Javad Zarif as Foreign Minister. Reuters has more on the speculations here. New York Times’ Tehran Bureau Chief Thomas Erdbrink noted on Twitter that many of those named as Rouhani’s likely picks — like Zanganeh — served under Rafsanjani governments; however, Rouhani’s inner circle are refusing to provide information about whom the President-elect will choose:
Lots of lists coming out with names of potential Rouhani cabinet members, but his people tell me: nothing certain yet. — Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) July 29, 2013
There is one truth in all those lists, Rouhani’s cabinet will be made up of technocrats who previously served under ex-pres Rafsanjani
— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) July 29, 2013
As for who will be named Minister of Culture, Erdbrink notes that:
— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) July 29, 2013
Ali Motahari — Tehran MP and member of the Parliament’s Cultural Commission — on Monday urged Judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani to put pressure on security officials to release all political prisoners.
“Now that national reconciliation has been achieved in the recent elections, the crisis of the 2009 elections should be dissolved. The majority of prisoners whose crime was simply to criticize [the Government] should be freed and Mousavi and Karroubi’s crimes should be identified and resolved. If these two men should apologize then shouldn’t Ahmadinejad apologize as well for inflaming the debate regarding the sedition? At the very least they [Mousavi and Karroubi] should be able to defend themselves,” Saham News quoted Larijani as saying.
Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani brings more detail on the Supreme Leader’s exchanges with students on Sunday….
During a Q&A part of the event, a student asked Khamenei what the term “moderation” — promoted by President-elect Hassan Rouhani and his supporters meant exactly.
The Supreme Leader gave a guarded answer, “The President-elect has come up with this slogan, surely he expressed your own understanding of the term and subject of moderation.”
A few students asked about the “sedition” — the protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential elections. Khamenei responded. to which Khamenei touched up on:
When reviewing this bitter event, the main issue is that they (the seditionists) violated the law and behaved in an uncivilized manner, and stood on the other side of the law and inflicted damage and harm on our dear Iran.
Of course in all of the corners and cracks of such a big incident there could be some issues, where sometimes an innocent person can be cruel, but the main issue should not be lost because of these (smaller) issues.
Why and for what reason did they take to the streets to deal with their claim that there was cheating in the 2009 election? We have repeatedly asked and proposed this question publicly, so why haven’t they answered? Why haven’t they apologized?
In private meetings they say fraud has not occurred, so for what reasons did you make the country suffer and want to bring it to the brink?
Do you know what would have happened if God didn’t help us during the sedition of 2009 and groups had fallen (died)? Do you know what type of days this country would have seen? Of course, God did not will it, and the nation used their intuition.
Khamenei’s personal website posted a series of photos of the event.
Mehr News reports on Monday that 13 heads of states, five parliament speakers, and six foreign ministers are to attend President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration ceremony on August 4.
Mehr notes that a Majlis official told Fars News on Sunday that the Presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, and Tajikistan would attend the ceremony.
The Prime Ministers of Syria and Swaziland have also sent positive RSVPs, Mehr said.
Russia, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Oman, and Congo are sending their Parliament Speakers to the ceremony.
The full guest list will be ready by Thursday. It is not yet clear whether former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will be on it.
Tough Talk From MP Aboutorabi-Fard – ‘Iran’s Might Protects All Muslims From Imperialist Hegemonies”
Principlist MP Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard talked about Iran’s soft and hard power with` ambassadors from Islamic States on Sunday, presenting the Islamic Republic as the major power whose military might and defensive capabilities protect not only itself but “all Muslims”.
Aboutorabi-Fard boasted that: “Iran’s defensive power is, in the first place, aimed at preventing the US interference in the region, and secondly to cut off imperialism’s hand of the oppressed countries in the world.”
No speech about Iran’s military might would be complete without a reference to an Israeli plot, and Press TV supplies this in the form of a quote from the Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to Iran, Salah Zawawi, who said that the crises in Egypt and Syria “can be traced back to Israeli plots.”
The two (not very exciting) highlights of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s interview with State TV on Sunday night:
Ahmadinejad talks of his plans to establish an “international university” and the many achievements of his government:
Ahmadinejad mispronounces “volleyball” and says that he had “real doctors” in his cabinet, possibly a dig at Dr Hassan Rouhani and his PhD:
Even the staunchly pro-Ahmadinejad IRNA news agency could not drum up enough enthusiasm to write a headline story about the interview,