PHOTO: Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, “Enemies still hope to strike Iran with sedition”
- Leading Cleric: No McDonalds Allowed in Iran
- Seeking Political Recovery, Reformists Form New Political Party
Leading groups within Iran’s regime maintained their strategy of denouncing the US enemy on Friday, even as Tehran moves towards approval of the July 14 nuclear agreement with the 5+1 Powers.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a Tehran Friday Prayer leader and member of the Assembly of Experts, told a crowd in southwestern Iran:
National honor is identical with the Supreme Leader’s command. The nation will not allow America to once again stretch its hands [into Iran]. The nation will stand with conviction and all its might in front of the Americans’ invasion and their filthy schemes.
Khatami warned of a renewal of the mass protests that followed the disputed 2009 Presidential election, “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Unfortunately, the enemies still hope to strike Iran with sedition like the 2009 sedition.”
The cleric emphasized the danger of the Internet in stirring trouble: “If our young people meet the two criteria of ‘distinguishing truth from falsehood’ and ‘verifying their own positions based on the legal authority and the Supreme Leader’, they will never slip into deviation, sedition, or corruption.”
Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan echoed, “We must naturally understand that the domineering powers with America at the top…are always on the path of confrontation and enmity [with Iran].”
He warned, “[The West] wants to weaken the nation’s ideological foundations and thoughts…and develop mistrust of their relationship with the system in their hearts.”
The Tehran Friday Prayer, delivered by Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani, added: “Nuclear agreement does not mean Iran’s reconciliation with the US and this way of thinking is wrong. Washington’s crimes against Iran have been too bad to compensate.”
The latest statements point to the concern of some within the regime, notably the Revolutionary Guards and the Supreme Leader’s office, over both regional crises such Iraq, Syria, and Yemen and challenges at home over political, economic, and social issues.
The Supreme Leader defined the campaign on Monday in a Tehran speech when he warned, “The opposite side in the nuclear negotiations was seeking to clinch an agreement…to find a way to infiltrate the Islamic Republic.” He continued:
Americans also try to penetrate into the region. They want to disintegrate Iraq & Syria. We do not allow this, and it will not happen, with God’s help.
The tension comes as the Rouhani Government and hardliners are stepping up their contest for power. On Thursday, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, criticized the Government’s pursuit of “engagement” in the Middle East and with Western powers, including the US.
Meanwhile, President Rouhani looked towards the 2016 Parliamentary elections as he said that the Guardian Council, the appointed body which has controlled the process, should not be able to ban qualified candidates.
An Assembly of Experts member, Ayatollah Kaabi, hit back on Friday:
The President and all the senior officials are bound to support the official institutions of government. No one has the right to speak in such a way as to ignore and undermine the legal and regulatory position of the Guardian Council.
Guardian Council member Siamak Rahpeyk said, “Reviewing the qualifications of candidate…is based on the Constitution and has been done for years….The supervisory institutions monitor this entire process; all of these things are stated in laws.”
Rahpeyk asserted that the Guardian Council has the legal authority to “even nullify the results of an entire election”.
Leading Cleric: No McDonalds Allowed in Iran
A leading cleric has firmly drawn the line on relations with the US after the July 14 nuclear deal: there will be no McDonalds allowed in the Islamic Republic.
Ayatollah Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayer Leader of Mashhad, said the deal “should not allow penetration of Western culture into Iran or open the presence of McDonald’s in the country.”
McDonald’s responded to recent reports that they are looking to bring the Big Mac to Tehran, “We have not set a firm date for the development of restaurants in Iran.”
Seeking Political Recovery, Reformists Form New Political Party
Trying to overcome years of repression and conservative dominance, reformists have formed a new political party.
The first meeting of the Iranian National Unity Party was convened on Thursday. It was launched with a video message by former President Mohammad Khatami, who is banned from appearing in Iranian media.
Most of the party’s members are from the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which was banned after the disputed 2009 election with many of its leaders detained. Among the participants were Hossein Karroubi, whose father Mehdi — a former Speaker of Parliament and 2009 Presidential candidate — has been under strict house arrest since February 2011.
Ali Shakouri Rad, a veteran politician from the IIPF, was chosen as the Secretary General.