Clerics continue Supreme Leader’s shift to put pressure on Government


UPDATE 1120 GMT: Clerical students in Iran’s holy city Qom have protested against President Hassan Rouhani.

Seminarians, who receive stipends from the Supreme Leader’s office, held a rally under the banner “Demanding Economic Justice” and called for the “punishment” of those accused of “financial and economic corruption”.

A member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, Hassan Rahimpoor Azghadi, addressed the crowd. Posters declared, “Epitomes of corruption must be crushed”, and criticized the 2015 nuclear agreement, “Six years of negotiation led to nowhere.”

Continuing the Supreme Leader’s shift to a focus on internal problems, the Tehran Friday Prayer has called for banking reform to deal with Iran’s currency crisis and fragile economy.

Hojatoleslam Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi Fard (pictured) said the three branches of power — the Executive, the judiciary, and Parliament — should work together to deal with the difficulties.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Leader put pressure on the Rouhani Government with his concentration on the internal causes limiting production, investment, and employment and feeding inflation and the currency crisis

Ayatollah Khamenei’s priority has been blame of “enemies” such as the US and its expanding sanctions. But he said Monday:

Today’s livelihood problems do not emerge from outside; they are internal. If actions are taken more efficiently, more prudently, more swiftly and more firmly, sanctions cannot have much effect and they can be resisted.

Khamenei specifically criticized the Government’s steps with the foreign exchange market, amid a 60% fall in the value of the rial since January, as “imprudence and neglect”.

See Iran Daily, August 14: Iranians Assess Supreme Leader’s Shift on Economic Crisis

Aboutorabi Fard added on Friday that the Government must ensure the independence of Iran’s Central Bank. He said — without explaining how — that the Government must cap its debts to prevent a monetary expansion further weaking the rial.

Hardliners have been pressing President Hassan Rouhani, especially since Donald Trump withdrawal of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal in May. The critics, including the Supreme Leader’s office, even threatened the removal of Rouhani, but the President was given some space after he toughened his rhetoric against Washington last month.

Judiciary to Government: Detention of Environmentalists is None of Your Business

Isa Kalantari, a Vice President and Environment Minister, says the judiciary has warned him to stop enquiring about detained environmentalists.

“The judiciary has ordered us not to get involved,” Isa Kalantari said in an interview with State news agency IRNA. “They told us this is none of our business and we shouldn’t pursue it.”

He continued:

The esteemed Intelligence Minister has repeatedly said there is no evidence that the detainees had spied and yet the judiciary has still not resolved their situation. Almost all of our NGOs are at a standstill because they don’t know to what extent they can operate without being accused of spying.

Nine environmentalists have been detained since late January. One of them, Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation chairman and sociology professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, died in suspicious circumstances on February 9 while being interrogated in Evin Prison.

Opposition websites said some of the environmentalists were arrested for opposing the construction of missile sites on environmentally-sensitive land.