Tehran Showdown: Rafsanjani Speaks (full text)

The fissures that have opened up at the center of the Islamic Republic are again much on display.
Influential Iranian politician Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s appearance today as Tehran’s Friday Prayer leader was even more profound and stunning than billed. As I’ve posted here before, when Rafsanjani speaks, people listen. And today, he had much to say.
Officially, the former President, Parliamentary Speaker, and close aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, now heads both the Expediency Council, a body that often reconciles log-jams within “the system,” and the Assembly of Experts, the body entrusted with appointing and even supervising the Supreme Leader.
Yes, he’s controversial. Many of the same reformists and leftists who today count the “pragmatic” Rafsanjani as an ally four years ago could not bear to support him against current President Ahmadinejad. Times change. In one of the debates just prior to the election, Ahmadinejad threw mud at Rafsanjani, hoping to taint reformist candidate Mir Hossein Musavi with the corruption smear by extension.
Since the controversy over the June 12th Presidential elections, Rafsanjani has been largely silent, and skipped a turn or two as Friday Prayer Leader. But not today.
As there are several very “thin” instant translations circulating, I post to the extension below a complete translation of Rafsanjani’s second sermon, as provided by BBC/OSC.
Last night, I’d heard from friends in Tehran who were worried that Rafsanjani “would pull a Khatami” — and talk about unity and preserving the revolution, while selling short the ongoing disquiet over the elections..
Quite the contrary, Rafsanjani’s speech was remarkably bold and unprecedented (for him). Rafsanjani has set out markers about legitimacy, “the people” and Islamic governance that will be of interest not just for Iran’s system, but for Islamists everywhere to consider.

“Everything depends on people…. The title of Islamic Republic is not just a formality…. If it looses its Islamic aspect, we will go astray. If it looses its republican aspect, it [The Islamic Republic] will not be realized. Based on the reasons that I have offered, without people and their vote there would be no Islamic system.”

Rafsanjani goes on to emphasize the plausible presence of “doubt” in the minds of Iranians about the legitimacy of the recent elections. This “bitter” doubt, “the worst disaster” — “a plague” – was not put there by foreign media, but by shameful behavior from within, by Iran’s own supervising Guardian Council and its state controlled TV media.:

“We are independent… Do we not have 30-year experience of running the country? Do we not have ulema? Why should our Sources [of Emulation, meaning senior clerics], who always have been supportive, and our seminary schools, which have never had any expectations for their efforts, be upset today.”

This is a not so subtle challenge to the very legitimacy of Supreme Leader Khamenei — in referencing the fact that several of Iran’s most senior Grand Ayatollah’s have been letting their displeasure be known. (a fact woefully missed or ignored in a recent WINEP essay)
Rafsanjani’s suggestions for restoring “trust” in the system (something hardliners don’t admit is lacking) boil down to:

1. Act strictly within the law. (e.g., especially law enforcement)
2. Promote dialogue and foster climate for free thinking and reason to prevail.
3. Free all those arrested amid protests.
4. Compensate those harmed in the disturbances.
5. Ease up on the media.

Rafsanjani does reference the need for unity, and he hopes his words will be “a turning point for the future,” to resolve the present “crisis.” That may be optimistic.
Ball now back to Leader Khamenei’s court.
(Full text in extension below:)
****************************


Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring July 17, 2009 Friday (sub-headings by BBC)
Iran senior cleric calls for release of post-election unrest detainees
In the name of God the most compassionate the most merciful, May greetings be bestowed on the God, the creator of the universe. May greetings be bestowed on the messenger of God and his successor Imam Ali the knight of the believers and his son and progeny Hoseyn and Mohammad the son of Ali and Ja’far the son of Mohammad and Musa-ibn Ja’far and Ali the son of Musa and all the Khalifa in the line of Mahdi [Crowds send blessings]. I enjoin the servants of God to piety and obeying His orders.
On hardship endured by seventh Shi’i imam
As far as the occasions of the week are concerned, the most important occasion was the death anniversary Imam Kazem, our seventh [Shi’i] imam, who was one of our most oppressed imams who experienced much hardship. His Excellency became an imam when he was 20 years old and during his whole life he faced much hardship from the Abbasid dynasty. Throughout his life he was either isolated and under pressure and surveillance or in exile and in prison. He was finally martyred in prison. The Shi’i became to know his as Kazim and Sabir [the patient one]. Kazem means a person who hides his hardship and suffering and Sabir means a person who is always under hardship but is patient and resists. These are some of the title given exclusively to the seventh imam. A number of Caliphs gave him a hard time and finally Harun al-Rashid sent him to exile in Basra and then to Baghdad, where he was sent to and held in the dark and dim tunnels of Baghdad with chains. They chained his feet. But Imam Kazem was happy about this. He said that for his whole life he had asked God to give him time to worship him and now his prayer has been answered and he can spend all his time praying to God. His Excellency was martyred under these circumstances. [words indistinct] May God grant patience and his blessing to those who are oppressed.
We extend our condolences to all people who love righteousness and to you dear people who follow those prominent, immaculate and oppressed figures.
Urging China to exercise patience
I will briefly speak about another issue, the killings in China. Muslims in China are experiencing some bitter days. I would like to mention a few points to the Chinese government. The Chinese government is expected to exercise patience in the face of aggressions that people are facing.
[At this point a number of people began chanting: “Down with China”. Rafsanjani continued with his sermons and told worshippers:]
Please allow me. Dear gentlemen! I, as the leader of the Friday prayers, pleaded with you not to chant any slogans. Considering the situation here [the venue of the Friday prayers], the adjacent streets and the entire area, I would like to ask you not to chant slogans. Please allow [me to continue] Thank you.
We would like to give a friendly word of advice to the Chinese government that we believe is a wise government working towards the progress of China. We would like to tell the Chinese government that what is going on is not in its interests. They [Chinese officials] are aware that there one billion and 600 million Muslims in the world. They live in around 60 independent countries. Muslims in all parts of the world enjoy their own identity and character and all their hearts are linked to those of Muslims in China who are experiencing acts of oppression today. China must be careful and consider its own interests and its relations with the world of Islam and the hearts of Muslims. And, God willing, from now on we would not witness such acts of oppression against Muslims in China or other parts of the world. Problems in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan are unfortunately the same as they have been in previous weeks and months, and bloodshed, corruption and clashes continue. Those problems will be solved one day, God willing.
On “completely free” election
And now to an issue which concerns us and the discussions to which I promised to dedicate the second and third part of my remarks.
As far as the [presidential] election which was held [on 12 June] is concerned, praise be to God we made a very good start. A sound competition took shape and good preparations were made. The four candidates who were approved by the Guardian Council competed against each other and demonstrated a good competition. The people became hopeful that the elections were completely free and they truly demonstrated an unprecedented participation. In these circumstances the conditions were set for the creation of a proud moment for the country. We have to present this glory to the people. It is their right. It was the people who demonstrated a good presence. The people broke a record as far as presence at the ballot boxes was concerned. We all have to thank the people who participated freely in the election at a time when no other country has seen such a level of participation. That was very valuable.
I wish those conditions could have continued until today, and today we would have been experiencing the most proud moments in the world regardless of the election results.
Stresses on people’s support
However, developments did not take shape as we wished them to, and I will explain them now.
The principle issue concerns what we want, as I mentioned earlier, and, secondly, to ask what is required by the revolution.
What you are hearing now is from a person who has been with the revolution second by second from the very beginning of the struggle which began by our leader the Imam [Khomeyni]. We are talking about 60 years ago up until today. I know what the Imam wanted and am familiar with the basis of the Imam’s thinking.
Even during the time of the struggles, the Imam would always say; all I am concerned about is the people when it came to a suggestion, for example to use arms, terror [preceding in English], this party [words indistinct]. He would say, you do as much as you can to solve the people’s problems and familiarize them with the struggle. He would tell us who were theology students, that our mission was to go to mosques, prayer houses and villages and explain what we were after.
We have everything if people are with us. [Words indistinct] The Islamic Revolution was based on what the Prophet [Muhammad] did, bringing people on board who themselves wished to take part on their own will and beliefs.
That was (?the secret) of the Imam’s victory.
It took less than 20 years for people to become alert. Obviously the price was also paid in terms of people who were martyred, people who were put in prisons, the Imam himself was sent to exile and many other things. However, our gains were much more. People became so alert that those whose ages allow have seen how in the final couple of years people poured into the streets.
People’s role according to the late Khomeyni
All the streets were full of Imam’s supporters. And, all the forces which were supporters and believers in the Imam were alongside Imam, all ranged against the very arrogant forces of the Pahlavi regime.
[Poor reception] The Shah whose coffers were filled to the brim from oil revenues could do anything it wanted. The people came to the fore and the demands of the people were such that they had to abandon everything and go.
[Loss of reception]… the Revolution, we worked round the clock for it and all on the basis of [loss of reception]… all his [presumably Imam Khomeyni] worry was that Islamic rule is not possible without the people.
Whatever the people will, will be done! And, I have a story to recount; one which I have heard from the era of Imam. I did not ask where the proof for that is. I then went and asked his eminence about this. It is a very interesting story. It formed the basis of Imam’s reasoning. Of course, it is far greater than that. His… [poor reception] the role that Imam accords to the people. I noted this from a book called Kashf ol-Mohajjam which belongs to Seyyed Ibn-Tavus who is one of our very erudite Ulema from seventh century. He is a great personality. Please listen to this story.
This is one of the [indistinct words].
On Islamic legitimacy
Ali Ibn-Abi-Talib himself says that when the prophet [Mohammad] was [indistinct words] rather worried in the last year of his life. He said this to Abi-Talib; [reads a short verse from Koran] This is after Eid-e Ghadir. He said that you are the Guardian of this Ummah [nation] this is a Guardianship that belongs to you and is something that God has given you.
[reads a passage from Koran] if you felt that this people are satisfied [with you] and they accept you and felt that you are a worthy person [ruler] and there was consensus, of course consensus is always relative it can never be absolute, if the majority coalesced around you then have to accept it. You will become the Guardian and see to their day to day affairs and resolve their problems.
[reads another passage] If you saw that they opposed you and that they do not come along with you then you have to leave them, Let them do what they want to; they know themselves what they need to do with their lives.
[reads another passage] God will find a way for you to realise your goals. This chronicle is one from authoritative sources. It is using these authoritative sources that Seyyed Ibn-Tavus uses; not that we just have this chronicle we have many others. We have books on this. This was just a one off chronicle that I read.
This test was what formed the basis of later rule. It was the basis of the rule of the prophet and we in the Islamic Republic set ourselves the mission of practicing exactly this.
On Islamic, republican nature of system
We have to be with the people; this people acted very wisely. The same thought of the Imam [the late Ayatollah Khomeyni] can be witnessed when he appointed Mr Bazargan as the head of the interim government. The power had not been handed over to us and Bakhtiar [the last prime minister of the shah] was still in power in Tehran at that time. The Imam was in a hurry to handover the power to the people. As you know, in his decree to Bazargan, which I also read it, the Imam said that the Revolution Council should keep on working for a short term, the Majlis should be established as soon as possible, the constitution should be drafted so that the people can live under the new [word indistinct] constitution. When we were preparing the draft of the constitution, before it was handed to the Assembly of Experts, the Imam gave his advices on that and stressed and strengthened the principles which related to the people. The issue of the councils [presumably the municipality councils] had been actually proposed by other individuals but the Imam strengthened them and assigned the tasks to the people. Later on, when we had meetings with the leaders of other countries, they were surprised about that. The Algerian leaders said that it took them 20 years, after their revolution, before they could draw up their constitution. They asked: How could you do so in a hasty manner. We said that since we achieved the victory by people’s power [word indistinct] and since the people support their revolution and religion we are not worried. That was a fact.
As you are aware, according to the constitution, everything in the country is determined by people’s vote. People elect the members of the Assembly of Expert and then they elect leader, that is, leader is [indirectly] elected by people’s vote. Presidents, MPs, members of the councils are elected by direct votes of people. Other officials are also appointed [indirectly] through people’s vote. Everything depends on people. This is the religious system. The title of Islamic Republic is not used as a formality. It includes both the republican and Islamic nature.
[People chant in support]
I asked you not to chant slogans so that I can finish sooner. Thank you very much.
The title of Islamic Republic is not just a formality. This is a reality passed on to us on the basis of Koran, as well as the religious sayings of the [Shi’i] Imams and prophet. We believe in them. We should have them at the same time. Rest assured if one of those two aspects are damaged we will loose our revolution. If it looses its Islamic aspect, we will go astray. If it looses its republican aspect, it [The Islamic Republic] will not be realized. Based on the reasons that I have offered, without people and their vote there would be no Islamic system. Ali bin Abi-Talib [the Shi’i first Imam] stayed at home for 19 years for the same reason. When the people came forward [word indistinct], Ali bin Abi-Talib accepted to come to power after people’s insistence, despite the difficulties he faced.
On current election, return of trust to people
This was our path. We should reach the destination. We should strengthen it day by day. If the problems after the [presidential] election had not emerged, we would have had taken the best largest step towards realizing the Islamic [aspect of the establishment] at the 30th anniversary of the revolution. I am not going to say that we have not taken the step. I want to explain why this happened.
What I understand is that towards the end of the election campaign we were taken over by doubt. In other words, people started to have doubts and the seeds of doubt were sown, for whatever reason. Whether it was unfavourable publicity or the Voice and Vision’s inappropriate actions or other things, seeds of doubt were planted in the minds of the people. We consider doubt as the worst disaster. [Talking to some people in the audience] Please allow me, I am saying it much better than you would. Your slogan and approval is enough. Leave it.
Doubt came down on our nation like the plague. Of course, there are two separate currents. There is a group of people who have no doubts, they [word indistinct] and mind their own business. But there is also another group, whose numbers are not few and include a great section of our erudite and knowledgeable people, who say: ” We doubt”. We should take measures to remove this doubt. This period, after the results of the elections , is a bitter era. I do not believe anyone from any faction wanted this to happen. We have all lost in this event. We have all lost and now ask ourselves: why did it happen. We need unity today, more than ever.
Our county should be united against all the dangers that threaten us. They have now upped their ransom demands and are coming forward to take away our achievements in the fields of hi-tech and particularly nuclear technology. Of course, God will not give them the opportunity to do so, but they are greedy. My brothers and sisters, first of all, you all know me, I have never wanted to abuse this platform in favour of a particular faction and my remarks have always concerned issues beyond factionalism. I am talking in the same manner today. I am not interested in any factions. In my view, we should all think and find a way that will unite us to take our country forward and save ourselves from these dangerous and bad effects, and the emerging grudges. We should disappoint our enemies so that they would not covet our country. What should we do? I have a few suggestions. Of course I have discussed these suggestions with a few jurists and members of the Expediency Council, with whom I can intellectually connect. We have decided, and I will read them out as solutions and maybe others will accept them and God willing, put them into force with sincerity.
Our important issue is that the trust that brought so many people to the polls and is now harmed, will be restored. This should be our holy objective, that this trust is returned. Whether [words indistinct], I will tell you later.
One, we should all, the system, government, Majlis, security forces, police and the people, i.e. the protestors, move in line with the law. If we violate the law, then there will be no boundaries left. We should raise our issues in the context of the law and find solutions for them within the framework of the law. We should accept whatever the law says and if there are some people who have problems with some laws, they should wait until those laws are corrected. God willing, all these problems that we have seen, will be resolved one day. But everything should be within the framework of the law.
Two, we must act in a way that the trust of the people is restored. Of course this cannot be achieved in one day. This is a relatively long process.
We have to create an atmosphere that all sides can come and express their views. And all sides must act rationally and without quarrel. Logic should rule. Of course the main task here falls on the Voice and Vision [of the Islamic Republic, meaning state broadcaster] as it has greater audience. And all other media outlets must do the same. [Sentence indistinct]. They should sit down and talk to each other in a brotherly and sisterly manner and point out their reasons. Eventually the people will find out the truth and we can ask the people too. We have to provide the ground to return this trust to the people. Unfortunately, a good use was not made of the opportunity that the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamene’i] gave the Guardian Council in which an extra five days was given to them to talk to the ulema. I do not of course want to blame anyone for this lost opportunity, but, nonetheless, it did not happen. [Crowd chanting] We have passed that stage. We are going through another stage now. I believe that for the sake of the future and our unity and for preventing the danger facing the system and for safeguarding the values created by the Revolution and for the sake of the martyrs and the efforts of those who struggled on this path whose achievements are now passed on to us and in order for these achievement to be passed on to the third and forth and following generation, at this juncture we can move along this path. If we accept the above two points that we move in line with the law and leave the door to debate, negotiations and reasoning open, perhaps in a short while we will be satisfied.
Hoping to resolve current “crisis”
Meanwhile, we have to do other things. Under current circumstances, there is no need for us to have people in prisons. Allow them to return to their families. [Chants of indistinct slogans from the masses in support of the cleric’s comment]. Let’s not allow our enemies to reprimand and laugh at us and hatch plots against us just because a few certain people are in prison. We should be brave and patient enough to tolerate one another. Sympathy should be shown to the victims of the recent incidents which took place. We should offer condolences to those who are mourning and bring their hearts closer to the establishment. And this is possible. Those who are faithful to the Revolution and know that the system needs them, can cooperate with us with their heart and soul. We have to do this, be tolerant and show them sympathy.
There is no need to make haste here and put ourselves into trouble. We should not limit our media, which have got legal permission for their activities. They should be able to work within the framework of the laws. As I mentioned before, the law is the criteria. Neither the media should expect to have activities beyond the legal framework, nor should the establishment expect them to ignore their legal rights. All should let to create a calm, open, critical, or even confirming atmosphere. I think that our officials, Law Enforcement Force, military and security forces should help to create that atmosphere.
We are all members of a family. All of us have endured hardship in the path of the revolution. All of us have invested in this long holy jihad and given martyrs. All of us [word indistinct]. We have our own idea. Why should others from long distance come and make up a prescription for us [give advice to us]. We are independent. [Word indistinct]. Do we not have 30-year experience of running the country? Do we not have ulema? Why should our Sources [of Emulation, meaning senior clerics], who always have been supportive, and our seminary schools, which have never had any expectations for their efforts, be upset today. We should keep their support and rely on them. If we preserve the unity, God willing, I hope that this Friday prayer sermon will be a turning point for the future and we will be able to successfully resolve this problem, which unfortunately can be described as a crisis. I hope that unity, fraternity, and fair competition [in elections] will again prevail, so that people can elect whoever they like.
[People chant in support]
May God bless you. May God support all of you. May God protect you and help you [word indistinct] to be present at the scene. Thank you very much.
[Reading a surah from the Holy Koran meaning: Surely We have given you Kausar, Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice, Surely your enemy is the one who shall be without posterity]
Source: Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran, in Persian 0919 gmt 17 Jul 09

29 thoughts on “Tehran Showdown: Rafsanjani Speaks (full text)

  1. John Francis Lee

    Not much hope of getting contradictory evidence past the censors on Iran, I know, but… The US is getting ready for a nuclear attack by the US and/or Israel on Iran :
    Foreign Policy Address at the Council on Foreign Relations
    And to these foes and would-be foes, let me say our focus on diplomacy and development is not an alternative to our national security arsenal. Our willingness to talk is not a sign of weakness to be exploited. We will not hesitate to defend our friends, our interests… vigorously and when necessary with the world’s strongest military. This is not an option we seek nor is it a threat; it is a promise to all Americans.
    We know that refusing to deal with the Islamic Republic has not succeeded in altering the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon, reducing Iranian support for terror, or improving Iran’s treatment of its citizens.
    Neither the President nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election. But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice : whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation.
    Direct talks provide the best vehicle for presenting and explaining that choice. That is why we offered Iran’s leaders an unmistakable opportunity: Iran does not have a right to nuclear military capacity, and we’re determined to prevent that.
    Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights. The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.
    “National Security Arsenal” = Nuclear Weapons. And in case you’re wondering when the Israelis are going to put an end to Obama’s talk of an end to “settlements” in occupied Palestine,.. the answer is now :
    Foreign Policy Address at the Council on Foreign Relations – Question-and-Answer Session
    QUESTION: Jonathan Broder from Congressional Quarterly. Madame Secretary, there have been reports that in the discussions between George Mitchell and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, that a certain number of settlements – or houses in the settlements that have already begun, the construction has begun on them already, that there has –
    was some agreement to allow the construction on these houses to go forward. Can you confirm that?
    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m certainly not going to step on the negotiations in any way. I think that any decisions that are made will be announced officially. And it’s only fair to the Israeli Government, as well as to our own, that we wait until decisions have been made.

  2. scott h

    What censors are you talking about John Francis? :-} (Your post had three links in it — had to await approval — and you were well above posting length preference too)
    That said, it’s a fair concern…. I should have started a separate thread about Clinton’s comments. You’ve isolated the sections which could be read in hawkish manner — and I think you’ve also cherry picked a bit — and left out the references to emphasis on diplomacy as current policy. (even as she lamely, sounding like Dennis Ross, says “we have no illusions” if it will work)
    Also, when Clinton goes for the emphasis on time limits, that’s likely extremely counter-productive…. If you want to push Iran into a corner like that, you’ll end up with hardliners more likely to win present struggle, and the country more likely to “weaponize.”

  3. Titus

    Wow, I am impressed. Silent since the elections this Rafsanjani really has the courage to speak, it just took him a while. Used the Friday sermon usually reserved for chanting Death to America and burning western flags for some other topic. Must have ran out of matches.
    In the meantime the demonstrations are up to 1000. Big deal. Less cojones than Pamplona, therein lies the solution. Send sangria to Iran so they get drunk and gather the guts to take out the tyrants.
    Iranian commentators in the US were touting the speech that starts a change that takes 100 years. I agree, I don’t expect to see a free Iran in my lifetime.

  4. scott h

    Just what Iran commentators are you talking about? (Would that be WINEP’s Khaliji? — who stuck to the script and proclaimed that the clerics were backing Khamenei — it was silly the day WINEP released it — of course most neocons have now moved on to the opposite talking points….)
    And where are you getting just 1,000 who showed up? For him who has ears to hear; eyes to see…. More like a million from the reports/claims I’ve seen.
    Have you ever been to a Friday Prayer at Tehran University? I have…. it’s hardly a quaint little hall., with crowds easily ranging into the tens of thousands on up…. (and today the reports were, even from hardline sources that the turnout was one of the largest ever — with streets filled well beyond view outside… )
    Ordinarily, of course, Friday prayers are known for being love-fests for those most ardent in supporting this system. The reformists shrewdly knew that in seeking this make this one their own.
    In any case, surely a major significant showing. There’s video evidence in multiple locations.
    And as for the chanting, you might (if you’re permitted) be curious to know about the latest Marg Bar (down with) chant….
    Marg Bar Russiyeh.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InKo75c-l1A
    (It was also picked up on some of the official radio broadcasts — fascinating — for those who wish to hear evidence)

  5. bb

    Fascinating to read the accounts over at Niac. It seems a significant number of clerics are supporting Rafsanjani and the reformists.
    Reading the portions about the Revolution and the consent of the people reminded me why I have never been particularly phobic about Iran. It shares so many similiarities with the government John Calvin set up in Geneva.
    But I have to say this about the neo cons, Scott. They have been proved 100 per cent correct about the totalitarian nature of the current Iranian regime. The question for the Obama admin is the same as it was for Bush: the likelihood of this fundamentalist, brutal, totalitarian police state acquiring nuclear arms and the dangers that would pose to the region and the world.
    Last week I watched a web discussion between Nico Pitney and Juan Cole about Iran, and they never mentioned the nuclear weapons issue at all!

  6. brianj

    A new vein seems to be emerging now in the tone of the protest movement. Iason Athanasiadis writing for the CSM from Greece observes
    On a Persian-language video posted on YouTube.com and shot outside the main prayer hall of Tehran University, pro-reform demonstrators could be seen ridiculing a cleric who was prompting them over a loudspeaker to shout slogans for the crowd to follow. The prayer assistant would shout “Death to Israel” and “Down with England” but the crowds retorted with “Down with Russia” – which was among the first countries to congratulate Mr. Ahmadinejad for his victory in the disputed June election …
    Another piece in the CSM elaborates on this
    http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/07/17/death-to-china-heard-at-rafsanjani-sermon-why/

  7. scott h

    Totalitarian? Define it. (say, as Jeane Kirkpatrick or standard political science texts a la Almond & Powell would)
    The very fact that we have severe divides within what the neocons like to call, as if it were a unified whole, “the mullahs regime,” render the concept utterly meaningless as applied to Iran….
    Authoritarian yes — though the whole argument between reformists and hardliners challenges even that….. “Sultanistic” (as my mentor long ago, and Akbar Ganji more recently) yes. Prone even, as Khatami lamented a decade ago in a remarkable speech at the UN, to being “dictatorial” — at times.
    But “totalitarian” ?
    That’s just propaganda — effective to be sure on those prone to lap up such easy stereotypes.
    But misleading all the same.
    If the IRI was “totalitarian,” then sure, the recent elections campaign, with all its constrains, would have been meaningless. And there wouldn’t have been any mass protests thereafter — from within the system (as Rafi emphasized) — afterwards, if IRI was simply “totalitarian.”

  8. scott h

    I did post the youtube link which has the “marg bar russiyeh” chants in it….
    OSC/BBC has not surprisingly came up with a null result in monitoring the russian media for comment:
    ******************
    Chants “death to Russia,” as reported on 17 July by the Iranian website Moj Sevom (Third Wave) (see IAP20090717950054), at the Tehran Friday prayers led on 17 July by Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, were not reported by any of Russia’s three main state-controlled television networks, Moscow Rossiya TV, Moscow Channel One TV and Moscow NTV, or by privately-owned Ren TV in their primetime news programs. Reports about the prayers were not observed on other monitored Russian TV channels.
    OSC/LD has also not observed any reports on these chants from Russian state-owned news agencies.

  9. Titus

    The Iranian commentators were a couple of academics and think tank characters with posh do nothing jobs paid by me the US taxpayer to tell NPR that Iran is incredible complex and inscrutable to westerners so please keep paying us as consultants. They were on NPR I think this morning, check out their website, and hear the opinion that change will take 100 years.
    The chants are the same, death to somebody and they just change the somebody du jour. Very complex country my foot. Blame others, hatred, and no courage to rid themselves of their tyrants.
    I am sorry Scott, no millions. If you had a million people you could just run over the Basiji and police, even walk over them, no weapons needed. Really complex country, sure, 80% is just explained by their religious affiliation, the other 20% inertia and cowardice. Oh and God is great is chanted in every occasion by every side.

  10. JES

    In any case, surely a major significant showing. There’s video evidence in multiple locations.
    And as for the chanting, you might (if you’re permitted) be curious to know about the latest Marg Bar (down with) chant….
    Gee Scott, maybe we should send Maxie B. with his video camera to Tehran to “feel the hate”. He’d certainly feel a lot more of it there, with a million chanting in unison, than he did in Tel Aviv where he managed to get four on vdeo!

  11. Salah

    “marg bar russiyeh”
    Hummm,…. Sure still there are more matches there but the wind move the smoke of fires in different directions….

    This was the funniest part of the Friday Prayers. A person (someone who supports this regim) was standing in front of the prayers line asking us to say “Death to Britain” but we instead kept saying “Death to Russia” and “Death to Dictator”

    Also, after the prayer we got up to leave, but we were being instructed to chant Death to America. We would answer back with Death to Russia.

    (We said death to Russia because it betrayed Iran and the airplane that it sold Iran was crashed on Wednesday and all of its 168 people were dead!!!)

  12. bb

    Karl Loewenstein will do- apologies in advance for the caps Scott, am not meaning to shout, but I dunno how to bold things here.
    “”The governmental techniques of a totalitarian regime are necessarily Authoritarian. But a totalitarian regime does much more. IT ATTEMPTS TO MOLD THE PRIVATE LIFE, SOUL, AND MORALS OF CITIZENS TO A DOMINANT IDEOLOGY. The officially proclaimed ideology penetrates into every nook and cranny of society; ITS AMBITION IS TOTAL”.
    Equally pertinent, Loewenstein on authoritarianism:
    “The term ‘Authoritarian’ refers rather to the structure of government than to the structure of society. An Authoritarian regime confines itself to political control of the state.”
    I suggest that up until now what you thought and I thought was “authoritarianism” in relation to Iran has stunningly been revealed nakedly to be “totalitarianism”. The regime that so blatantly hijacked the election is not stupid. It sees with its own eyes the creeping secularisation taking place in Iran – most obvious example Helena’s “glamor pusses.” They have been watching and experiencing its growing power ever since 1998 and probably even before that. In retrospect their first major move was the 2005 presidential elections. Who can argue now with any confidence that that election wasn’t rigged too?
    This regime is not motivated by “authoritarian” political power (that’s more like Rafsanjani, I reckon) but by the desire and intention to “mold the private life, soul and morals of citizens” to their ideology. Clearly, it’s their interpretation of Islamic purity that is motivating their actions. Which they link – correctly – to the influence of the west on the people via the new global technology which then gets expressed via the republic’s democratic election process. The regime’s motivations and interest couldn’t be more clear. Their prescriptions are totalitarian because that is the only logical course open to them to arrest the process.
    And all this was in fact the key subject of Rafsanjani’s Friday sermon going by the translation you posted. Why else would he have made such a point of the cruciality of the linkage between the “Republic” to the “Islamic” components that Khomeini put in place after the Revolution?
    btw could you expound abit more on “Sultanistic”? I always thought Sultanism was an old-world thing that ended with the Ottoman Empire. I would never have thought to relate it to the Iranian revolution which I always thought was modern? Also always thought that “Sultanism” was linked to Islamic imperialism? Is there a difference between Sultans and Caliphs?

  13. scott h

    Muhammad Sahimmi echoes my key points, with further detail supports from Rafsanjani’s address, in the following Tehran Bureau analysis released this morning:
    http://tehranbureau.com/rafsanjanis-sermon-split-leadership/
    Excerpts:
    “Practically everything that he said was contrary to the official propaganda; he even peppered his sermons with examples of how Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali [Shiites’ first Imam and a highly revered figure] acted in times of crisis, to contrast them with how the hard-liners are handling things now.”…
    Rafsanjani, therefore, reminded the hard-liners that, although they control the resources of the state, that cannot prevent their downfall if they continue down this path, just as even the Shah, who was supported by world’s powers, was overthrown by the people.

  14. scott h

    Well, let’s try this again Mr. Titus: You wrote:
    “The Iranian commentators were a couple of academics and think tank characters with posh do nothing jobs paid by me the US taxpayer to tell NPR that Iran is incredible complex and inscrutable to westerners so please keep paying us as consultants. They were on NPR I think this morning, check out their website, and hear the opinion that change will take 100 years.”
    I’ve been checking the NPR web site…. haven’t found your “Iranian commentators.” I am curious to know what think tank analysts you think are dependent upon your tax dollars.
    Borzou Daragahi of the LA Times was on Morning Edition. (and he’s been among the better journalists, though in this instance, he missed Rafsanjani’s specific “suggestions” for resolving the “crisis” )
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106722332
    Sure it was on NPR? Maybe Fox?
    As for Iran being totalitarian, this could be endless…. To those sticking to the ideological script here in the US, yes, Iran, by definition, will be deemed “totalitarian.” (e.g., the bad guys are always “totalitarian” and/or “they’re relgious aren’t they — to they must be trying to transform society from the top….” if so, it backfired….. )
    Go back and look at the Newsweek cover story recently — “everything you know about Iran is false.” yes, among my posts here.

  15. bevin

    If I might break into the Hate Hour, it seems peculiar to view the developments in Iran in isolation. It is is simply deceitful to focus on a Friday sermon but not to pan out to the surrounding realities.
    These include competing bouts of warlike demagogy from Israel’s fascist cabinet (warships sailing through the Red Sea towards the Gulf) and more nonsense from Obama and Clinton to the effect that Iran must cease its Nuclear Weapons programme. That is the one that refuses to exist in reality or die in US political discourse.
    Pan out just a little further, and you will discover hundreds of thousands of US forces, mercenaries and colonial levies heavily engaged in killing Afghans and Iraqis. On the borders of Iran you will discover US financed and armed terrorist groups ranging from faux communists to pseudo islamists probing ethnic fault lines in Kurdistan, Belochistan and near the Gulf. Every now and again Iran executes a dozen or so and bombs are exploded in crowded mosques. And don’t let us forget that Iran, as air travellers are aware, is under international sanctions for…nobody really knows why. As to Pakistan: there is a travel advisory against going there.
    Look more widely at the world and the US obsession with Iran is evidenced again in the ludicrous but peace dampening European “missile defence system’ on Russia’s western borders.
    And then there is Honduras where the US government’s attitude towards democracy is really in stark evidence and a State Department installed stooge, surrounded by Clinton/Bush era psychos (Reich, Negroponte et al), claims the right to prevent the elected President from holding an opinion poll. And like the Mousavi campaign this one too was funded by Congress with Titus’s tax dollars.
    Any Iranians who anticipate anything good from this sort of affair simply haven’t been paying attention. Democracy and Imperialism don’t mix.

  16. Salah

    ,i.the Shah, who was supported by world’s powers, was overthrown by the people.
    Its clear from many stories there is a lack of accuracy in the writer’s statement.
    Carter had caused the destabilization of the monarchy in Iranw which seen as was overthrown by the people
    Who let the Genie out of the bottle?
    Here more

  17. scott h

    Say Salah, thanks for that dailykos link. Helpful.
    You then surprised me with your curious take on the original Iranian revolution — as if it was all made-in-America.
    You give us a link to a stanford web site. Classic monarchist theory — that the Shah could not have fallen had not the foreign devil pulled the rug out from underneath of him, that it was all Carter’s fault.
    And of course, the Shah’s son for years made his home in McLean Virginia, near the CIA, as the assumption among so many monarchists was that to be restored to the throne, he needed to be near those that had dethroned his father. (today he’s moved to nearby Maryland)
    Rubbish of course in such “many stories” — To most non-monarchist sympathizers, the Shah fell because he’d fallen out of favor with the people…. not because they all agreed on what they wanted to replace him, but because his legitimacy had been so badly compromised….

  18. scott h

    Say Bevin, what “hate hour?” What prompted you say that? (the quotes, from Iran, about “down with Russia?”)
    And how is it “deceitful” to focus on the topic at hand? (to first read what Rafsanjani said, consider why it was significant in the direct Iranian context)
    On the other hand, it is yes, relevant to contemplate those force making “mischief” near Iran’s borders — that’s a fair concern, and Iran’s Mohsen Rezaei, one of the four contenders in the recent elections, recently issued a stark public warning….
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090713/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_election_5
    “A continuation of the current situation will drive us toward disintegration,” (e.g., as Israel, the US, etc. take advantage of Iran’s internal disarray….)
    It’s happened many, many times before. Iranians know their history with foreign invaders — and remember well a chap named Saddam.
    That said, Rafsanjani was explicitly not blaming the foreigner in this speech– and that echoes a point I made in my 4th of July Agence Global essay — that Iranians indeed have achieved an “independence” — that has prompted many, if not most, Iranians to consider that their own troubles are homegrown….

  19. JES

    These include competing bouts of warlike demagogy from Israel’s fascist cabinet (warships sailing through the Red Sea towards the Gulf) and more nonsense from Obama and Clinton to the effect that Iran must cease its Nuclear Weapons programme.
    Well you see Bevin, they dissed us.

  20. omop

    To all those sensitive and upstanding individuals who bemoan the Iranians chanting “death to america” and others who are worried about Iran getting ONE/OR TWO BOMBS and challenges Israel arsenal of over 200 nukes.
    Compare the above to this “humanitarian” exchange:
    Lesley Stahl (CBS) on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:” I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”
    Since then over one million Iraqis have been killed under the crusade of “regime change”; ten to 20 Afghans are killed on a daily basis; as compared to the rabid daily demands to “obliterate” Iran and reading the comments of a few on this blog whining about people chanting “death to America and Israe”.
    The hard facts are that the US has been at war against Iran for close to four decades and against Iraq for close to 20 years.
    Why not total the number killed by actual military actions and compare to the number killed as a result of “chanting”?

  21. epppie

    Why have you turned into a shill, Helena? You used to be a voice of reason and fairness. Or so it seemed. But now you ignore US manipulation of Iran politics. Now you ignore the clear indications from the crowd reaction to Rafsanjani that those who pointed out the Geopolitical aspect of the Color Coup in Iran were absolutely on the money – Rafsanjani’s political faction want’s to re-orient Iran to the Nato Global Hegemony. Now you ignore the fact that Rafsanjani leading a ‘grassroots freedom movement’ in Iran is like the Rockefellers leading a ‘grassroots freedom movement’ in the US. You have proven yourself to be an enemy of freedom, an agent of propaganda. I’m saddened. I’d hoped that maybe you had come to your senses, but I see you have chosen to continue to be an agent of propaganda. What a shame.
    I challenge you. You can return to the side of peace and justice, by recognizing that the Freedom Movement in Iran is NOT the same thing as the Geen Coup that glommed onto the legitmate desire of the people of Iran for freedom, justice and peace. Rafsanjani has long sought to privatize Iran’s oil, and now with the Nabucco pipeline becoming a reality, his motivation is not hard to figure. It’s nothing to do with freedom, except for the traditional liberal (now neoliberal) idea the freedom is for the financial elite.
    Can you not see that showing some discernment about what happened in Iran, some awareness of both the inspiring factors and the very perverse and disturbing Green Coup factors, as well as the outrageous official oppression, DOES NOT IMPLY UNCRITICAL DEFENSE OF AHMADINEJAD.

  22. epppie

    Why have you turned into a shill, Helena? You used to be a voice of reason and fairness. Or so it seemed. But now you ignore US manipulation of Iran politics. Now you ignore the clear indications from the crowd reaction to Rafsanjani that those who pointed out the Geopolitical aspect of the Color Coup in Iran were absolutely on the money – Rafsanjani’s political faction want’s to re-orient Iran to the Nato Global Hegemony. Now you ignore the fact that Rafsanjani leading a ‘grassroots freedom movement’ in Iran is like the Rockefellers leading a ‘grassroots freedom movement’ in the US. You have proven yourself to be an enemy of freedom, an agent of propaganda. I’m saddened. I’d hoped that maybe you had come to your senses, but I see you have chosen to continue to be an agent of propaganda. What a shame.
    I challenge you. You can return to the side of peace and justice, by recognizing that the Freedom Movement in Iran is NOT the same thing as the Geen Coup that glommed onto the legitmate desire of the people of Iran for freedom, justice and peace. Rafsanjani has long sought to privatize Iran’s oil, and now with the Nabucco pipeline becoming a reality, his motivation is not hard to figure. It’s nothing to do with freedom, except for the traditional liberal (now neoliberal) idea the freedom is for the financial elite.
    Can you not see that showing some discernment about what happened in Iran, some awareness of both the inspiring factors and the very perverse and disturbing Green Coup factors, as well as the outrageous official oppression, DOES NOT IMPLY UNCRITICAL DEFENSE OF AHMADINEJAD.

  23. Titus

    Scott, it was either NPR or Pacifica radio, that is what I listen to in the morning, two US resident Iranian experts clearly blowing their own horns to make things more difficult than they are. You want to understand your mortal enemy, fine, but the first priority is to defeat your enemy and sometimes that can be done even if you do not arrive at the ultimate understanding. The high order effects in terms of why and how Iran operates ain’t that hard, and the idea of stirring up trouble and anti-US poison is the same transparent game that Chavez and the Russians embark on to get the oil price to include the infamous “risk premium”, rather than the lower supply-demand proce.
    As for omop, his nonsense is reaching new heights, I am quoting
    Since then over one million Iraqis have been killed under the crusade of “regime change”; ten to 20 Afghans are killed on a daily basis; as compared to the rabid daily demands to “obliterate” Iran and reading the comments of a few on this blog whining about people chanting “death to America and Israe”.
    First I don’t know where you pull the Million figure, probably from your mosque sermon done by some Imam to get you all pumped up and donate to some terrorist charity. Second, most of the Iraqi casualties were intestine battles and ethnic cleansing, and we covered that topic of the eternal battle betwen the followers of the prophet (SBUH) and the newphew (same SBUH).
    Finally, the moronic chants in Iran, flag burnings, and choreographed demonstrations date back to way before the day a US soldier set foot on Iraq or Afghanistan, were they anticipating the future? I remind you the FBI is placing informants in your mosque for a reason, and before Iraq and Afghanistan, you are high risk population my friend and you have to be stupid to read your poison and not realize how quickly you can transition from words to illegal actions.

  24. JES

    Titus, does the “S” in SBUH stand for what I think it does?
    Omop has now been added to my list of people here whom I ignore, which already includes Shirin and Salah.

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