Top Iranian politicians exchange accusations

The New York Times


TEHRAN — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad escalated a bitter political fight this week with Iran’s most influential political family by disclosing secret film recordings of what he purported were fraudulent business deals.

During a Sunday session of Parliament, broadcast on state radio, Mr. Ahmadinejad singled out the head of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, a political rival with strong links to influential Shiite Muslim clerics and one of several brothers who have held top positions in the Iranian government.

His older brother Sadegh, 52, heads Iran’s judiciary, while his oldest brother, Mohammad Javad, a Berkeley-educated mathematician, is also a judiciary official.

On Monday, a conservative newspaper, Kayhan, hinted that the nation’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had been forced to step in to prevent both men from giving potentially damaging news conferences, which were both canceled at the last minute.

This was not the first time Ayatollah Khamenei has been forced to intervene in this feud. In October, he issued an edict aimed at stopping the infighting, saying that those creating divisions before the June 14 presidential elections “betray” the country.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who went to the Parliament in a failed attempt to head off the impeachment of his labor minister, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, said Mr. Larijani and his fellow lawmakers had obstructed the government, stepped beyond their constitutional boundaries and written letters ordering the annulment of government decisions.

Instructed by Mr. Larijani to stick to the subject of the impeachment, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “Don’t order me to close my mouth because you say it’s the law.”

With that, Mr. Ahmadinejad, who for years has threatened to reveal the names of corrupt officials, played a video clip of a conversation in which another of Mr. Larijani’s brothers, Fazel, appeared to discuss the purchase of a state company under favorable terms, the semiofficial Tabnak Web site reported. While Fazel Larijani used to head a medical association in Iran, his current position is unclear.

The public accusation, rare in Iran, could signal a new phase in an already intense conflict between Mr. Ahmadinejad, who represents a powerful group of young, ambitious politicians, and Mr. Larijani, who is the official representative of the holy city of Qum, the center of Shiite scholarship in Iran.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said his associate, Saeed Mortazavi, 45, was also at the taped meeting. In January, Mr. Mortazavi was dismissed as the head of Iran’s enormous social welfare organization under pressure from Parliament. Some days later, however, he was rehired by the president in the same position, this time as official caretaker.

During the conversation, read out in part by Mr. Ahmadinejad to astonished lawmakers, Fazel Larijani appears to try to use his family connections to buy a factory from the social welfare organization. He promises leniency for Mr. Mortazavi, the former Tehran prosecutor who faces several criminal proceedings over accusations that he played a role in the deaths of three protesters in a substandard prison in 2009.

Mr. Mortazavi was arrested Monday evening, the Fars news agency reported, though no reason was given.

“These are audio and video, and the tape is clear,” Mr. Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “If the honorable Parliament speaker sees fit, we can turn over the 24 to 25 hours to you,” he said of the recordings. On Monday, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, a mouthpiece for Mr. Ahmadinejad, deepened the split by publishing the audiotape on its Web site.

Ali Larijani, cheered on by the Parliament, which has lost nearly every serious political battle with the president, silenced the room, saying: “Let him tell his words. If there is anything about my family, then let him talk about it.”Mr. Larijani said it was a “mafia film” and recalled how he had a meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s estranged brother, Davoud. “He said many things against you,” Mr. Larijani told the president, “about economic corruption, about your inner circle and your relations with foreign countries.”

For his part, Fazel Larijani strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying that while he did appear in the clip, the words were not his, but rather had been added in a voiceover. Calling Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Mortazavi “mafialike individuals,” he said he would sue them both for “spreading lies and disturbing public opinion.”

On Monday, several officials criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad and Ali Larijani, accusing them of lacking self-control and bringing shame on the country. “They broke the leader’s heart and gave the friends of the Islamic republic almost a seizure,” said Mojtaba Zolnour, a special consultant to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, the semiofficial Iranian Labor News Agency reported. “They provided ammunition for the foreign media on the eve of our election.”



Act of Cowardice

Iran's ruling tyrants have executed yet another political prisoner in flagrant violation of international law.  READ MORE

The rush to Tehran amidst rise in executions

World leaders should halt these visits and link any deal with Iran to its human rights record.  READ MORE

Arming a dictator

What if President Obama ordered the sale of arms to Syrian dictator to massacre his opponents? READ MORE

Slaughter intensifies under Rouhani

231 executions have occurred since the presidential election in June which brought to power Hassan Rouhani. READ MORE

Silence is not the answer

Iran: Bloody crackdown targeting dissidents aims at terrorizing the people into submission. READ MORE

Iran’s Murder Machine

The wheels of Iran's Murder Machine turn in tandem with its nuclear machine. READ MORE

What now?

The West must drop the dangerous pretence that talking to a regime not interested in listening constitutes the winning strategy. READ MORE

A facelift

This cosmetic facelift should not dupe the West into thinking that there are fresh prospects for a nuclear deal. READ MORE

An Act of Cowardice

The terrorist attack against Iranian exiles at Camp Liberty, Iraq, is another sign of Iranian regime's weakness. READ MORE

Much atalk about nothing

In Istanbul they merely agreed to talk about talking later in May in Baghdad, of all places. READ MORE

An unholy alliance

The brutal state-imposed bloodbath in Syria deserves uncompromising reproach. READ MORE

Iran cries for freedom

The clerical regime in Iran has predictably unleashed another wave of terror against the citizenry since the outburst of the latest string of mass protests beginning on 14 February. READ MORE

A new Iran policy

The latest round of nuclear talks had an all-too-familiar result: more time for Tehran and less time for the international community to prevent a nuclear-armed theocracy. READ MORE

Murder overlooked

What would the rest of us do if a mad gunman was in our midst, systematically murdering our fellow human beings in front of our eyes? The responsible amongst us would not look the other way, because that would serve as a source of encouragement for the murderers to carry on with their heinous acts unchecked. READ MORE

Standing up to Iran's executioners

The Iranian regime's malicious noose has yet again taken an innocent life. Political prisoner Ali Saremi, 63, was hanged in Tehran's infamous Evin prison after a lifetime of peacefully espousing human rights and democracy. READ MORE