Audio: Rafsanjani’s “Assad Government Used Chemical Weapons” Statement

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Sunday’s news from Iran was overtaken by a dramatic, sometimes darkly comic development over the regime line on Syria, with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani appearing to break from Tehran’s position of unwavering support for the Assad regime.

In a meeting with officials in northern Tehran last week, Rafsanjani declared — according to witnesses and, briefly, a Sunday report from the Iranian Labor News Agency, “The people have been the target of chemical attacks by their own government and now they must also wait for an attack by foreigners.”

ILNA soon modified the statement, removing the key words “by their own government”, and a official of the Expediency Council — headed by Rafsanjani — denied that the former President had blamed the Syrian regime.

However, the position of Rafsanjani, a mentor to President Hassan Rouhani, was left unchanged in other remarks which implicitly blamed Damascus for mass detentions and mass deaths:

The people of Syria have seen much damage in these two years, the prisons are overflowing and they’ve converted stadiums into prisons, more than 100,000 people killed and millions displaced show the plight of Syria more than ever before.

We will have more in an analysis later on Monday.

Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

Supreme Leader Offers Relationship Advice — On Facebook

The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has taken to his Facebook page to offer relationship advice: women do not have to obey their husbands all the time, but Iranians should beware “Europeanized” ideals, where the woman controls everything.

Khamenei writes:

It is not true that the wife should obey the husband in every occasion, no. There’s no such thing in Islam or Sharia law. That “men are in charge of women” [as said by the holy Quran] does not mean that a woman should obey her husband in all affairs. No! Or according to some Europeanized individuals carried away by European [standards], acting worse than them, the woman should control everything and the man should obey her. This is also wrong. A couple is about two companions, two friends. Sometimes the husband should back down, sometimes the wife. Sometimes the man should give up on his interests sometime the woman should give up on hers, so that the two can get along and live a life together.

The Supreme Leader includes this helpful illustration:


Audio: Rafsanjani’s “Assad Government Used Chemical Weapons” Statement

The local news site that broke the story of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s blame of the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons has countered denials — by posting the audio of Rafsanjani’s statement.

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Fars, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, reportedly posted the clip but soon withdrew it:

The page now says, “Story Cannot Be Found”.

Rouhani to Foreign Minister Zarif “Welcome to Twitter”

President Rouhani has offered a warm welcome to his Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has joined Twitter:

Zarif, who made headlines with a Facebook page — filtered inside Iran — has yet to post his debut Tweet.

Rouhani Says He Wants To Make Iranians Smile, And Promote Women

President Rouhani uses his English-language Twitter account on Monday to say that his government’s main responsibility is to protect the hope that Iranians felt after the June election:

Rouhani also vows to advance women’s rights:

Court Blocked Transfer of Government Funds to Ahmadinejad’s New University

The Audit Court has blocked the transfer of 16 billion Toman (about $6 million) in Government funds to the new Iranian University, linked to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad’s office ordered the transfer of the money on August 3, just before Hassan Rouhani took over the Presidency.

Last weekend, Rouhani advisor Akbar Torkan said the new Government would act to stop the “illegal” move.

Exports of Automobiles Continue to Fall

Even the hard-line Mashregh News is acknowledging the troubles in the Iranian car industry, reporting that exports fell by $134 million between March and August.

Meanwhile, Tehran’s imports of cars has doubled in the same period, according to the website.

Video: Iraqi Forces Attack Iranian Exiles in Camp Ashraf

Footage of Iraqi security forces moving on Camp Ashraf, home to members of the Iranian insurgent group Mujahedin-e Khalq, on Sunday:

The forces attacked after the camp was hit by mortar fire. Iraqi security officials said at least 15 people were killed, while the Mujahedin-e Khalq said 52 had been slain, many of them handcuffed and executed with a shot to the head.

Graphic video has been posted of the casualties.

The Anti-Saudi Campaign Escalates

Fars News English, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, has four headline stories this morning attacking Saudi Arabia and its role in the Syrian crisis.

The website proclaims, “Saudi Envoy Meets Zionist Lobby Officials in Geneva over War on Syria“, asserting from an “informed Saudi source” that “an envoy of the Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan” was secretly conferring with US pro-Israeli activists:

The latest meeting between Riyadh al-Tamimi and Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive of J Street lobby, was held in Geneva on August 20, during which the two sides discussed the latest developments in Syria, ways to strengthen militants fighting against President Bashar al-Assad and proper methods of persuading the US officials to wage a war against Syria.

Prince Bandar is again featured in “Saudi Intelligence Chief Insults Qataris in Meeting on Syria“, and another “informed source in the Saudi mission in Washington” has supposedly told Fars — despite the Iranian regime’s hostility to the Saudis — “S. Arabia Undertakes to Fund, Supply Fuel for Syria Aggressors“:

Saudi Arabia wants to overthrow the Alawis and provide the ground for the formation of a Wahhabi government dependent on Riyadh and protecting the US interests in the region and Syria.

The most unusual headline, however, is “Saudis Go on Full Alert after [Russian President Vladimir] Putin Threatens to Hit S. Arab in Reprisal for US Attack on Syria”.

Foreign Minister: US Cannot Intervene Without UN in Syria

Amid the flutter on Sunday over former President Rafsanjani’s remarks, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tried to hold the line on Syria, condemning any US-led airstrikes: “Only the [UN] Security Council, under special circumstances, can authorize a collective action, and that [will be] under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.”

Zarif, who has blamed insurgents for the August 21 chemical weapons attacks, continued, “Mr. Obama cannot interpret and change the international law based on his own wish.”

He referred to the US President’s decision on Saturday to refer the issue of military force to Congress, “It would be wise that Mr. Obama take the several-day chance created for him to think twice about the issue, as warmongering is not in the interest of anyone.”