Why didn’t Khatami visit Iran’s supreme leader in hospital?

Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami (L) makes a point to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) as he introduces the new cabinet to him in Tehran, Aug. 27, 2001.  (photo by REUTERS)

Why didn’t Khatami visit Iran’s supreme leader in hospital?

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei checked out of the hospital yesterday, Sept. 16 after undergoing prostate surgery. Since he entered the hospital Sept. 8, his personal website has live-blogged the entire event, uploading pictures and videos of visits from current and former political figures, Iranian artists and regional officials from Iraq and Lebanon. The most notable absence — excluding his family, who is hardly ever photographed — was former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Given the sensitive nature of the issue, much of the news about it had come via social media, written by political and media figures themselves.

Yesterday, political dissident Isa Saharkhiz wrote on his Facebook page that Khatami had consulted with a number of Reformist figures and decided it would be best to “request a meeting” with Khamenei while he was in the hospital. When the request was not accepted, Khatami then decided to leave Tehran Sept. 12 and visit his ill mother in his birthplace of Ardakan, where he also met local officials and prayed for Khamenei’s health and successful surgery.

Journalist Seyed Mahdi Dezfouli shared over Google Plus that during an interview with Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Khatami’s former vice president, Abtahi was asked why Khatami did not visit Khamenei in the hospital. According to Dezfouli, Abtahi said that Khatami had gotten in touch with Khamenei’s office, which answered that if permission were granted, the staff there would get in touch with him. On his Facebook page, Abtahi denied making any such comments.

Also on Sept. 12, Khatami wrote a personal letter to Khamenei saying that his successful surgery “brought joy to various groups inside and outside of the country, especially the people of Iran.” The letter was delivered through the Reformist group the Association of Combatant Clerics.

The snub of Khatami is made much more stark given that the two other presidents during Khamenei’s tenure as supreme leader, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, both of whom Khamenei has had issues with in the past, visited him in the hospital.

In a 2013 statement, Expediency Council member Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi said, “For three years, Khatami has not had the ability to meet with Khamenei.” He added that before that, Khatami used to meet with Khamenei once a month.

It is no secret that Khatami, who was president from 1997 to 2005, had a falling out with Ayatollah Khamenei over the contested 2009 elections. Khamenei rejected a recount of the votes and called the post-election protests “sedition.” Khatami supported candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both of whom have been under house arrest for three and a half years after calling for mass protests.

The editor of Kayhan newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari, who is appointed by Khamenei, wrote thatKhamenei did not respond to the letter from the Association of Combatant Clerics because its members are part of the “leaders and agents of the American and Israeli sedition of 2009.” He wrote, “After that great betrayal against Islam, the people and the system, how can you expect to have the attention of the people without explicitly repenting [and] exonerating yourself from the American, Israeli and British triangle?”

Khatami gave speeches in support of the protests and wrote a letter to the judiciary criticizing the post-election arrests. He also criticized the “military confrontation” against protesters and warned that the propaganda against the election protests, especially from state TV, was becoming a “coup d’etat.” The heads of all of these institutions that Khatami criticized are appointed by the supreme leader.

Many conservative media outlets began to assert that the “leaders of the sedition” were in fact Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami. Since the fallout, Khatami has not been allowed to leave the country.

Source: AI-Monitor

History of Modern Iran: A Nuclear Islamic Republic | BBC Documentary

Iran and the West is the name of a three part British documentary series shown in February 2009 on BBC Two to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The documentary looks at the relationship between Iran and the countries of the west and features interviews with politicians who have played significant roles in events involving Iran, Europe and the United States since 1979. The series is produced by Norma Percy, whose previous series include The Death of Yugoslavia and Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace.

Militant Islam enjoyed its first modern triumph with the arrival in power of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran in 1979. In this series of three programmes, key figures tell the inside story.

Former US president Jimmy Carter talks on television for the first time about the episode that, more than any other, led American voters to eject him from the presidency. Iran’s seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and the holding of its staff for 444 days took more and more of Carter’s time and energy. His final days in office were dominated by desperate attempts to secure the release of the embassy hostages. Those who sat in the White House with him, planning how to rescue the hostages, how to negotiate their release and, finally, wondering whether anything could be rescued from the disaster, all tell their part in the story.

Other contributors include former vice president Walter Mondale, ex-deputy secretary of state Warren Christopher and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. The other side of the story is told by top Iranians: Ayatollah Khomeini’s close adviser, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri; his first foreign minister, Ebrahim Yazdi; his negotiator with the US, Sadeq Tabatabai; and the founder of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rafiqdoust

Second episode in the documentary series marking the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Inside stories are told by two ex-presidents of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, by two founders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and by leading westerners including Secretaries of State George Shultz, Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright.

In part three of this landmark series from Norma Percy and the team that made the multi-award winning documentaries The Death of Yugoslavia and Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, contributors including Iran’s President Khatami tell the inside story of the West’s continuing nuclear confrontation with Iran. The film also shows a rare moment when they worked together.

US State Department insiders tell how, after 9/11, Iran played a key role in helping America to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan – only for President Bush to put Iran into his ‚axis of evil‘ immediately afterwards. Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, and President Khatami describe how Iran offered to help the US and its allies in their war against Saddam Hussein – help that, given Iran’s powerful contacts in Iraq and the West’s subsequent difficulties there, might have made a crucial difference.

Jack Straw, his successor Margaret Beckett, and Joschka Fischer of Germany describe how they struggled to find a compromise between Iran and President Bush’s hardliners over Iran’s nuclear programme. John Sawers at the UN reveals an extraordinary secret deal that Iran proposed a few years later.


Photo Essay: A New Mood in Iran

bySemira Nikou 

            The voice of Ali Larijani, Iran’s parliament speaker, disrupted our dinner party.
            We left our plates filled with fruits and nuts to huddle around the television, as the speaker read the names of President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet picks one by one, announcing whether or not each had been approved by the parliament. One of the guests, a journalist, let out a sigh of relief with Bijan Namdar Zangeneh’s approval as petroleum minister. Zanganeh, who had served in the same position under former President Mohammad Khatami’s reformist administration from 1997 to 2005, was a key candidate whose nomination had been hotly challenged by Iran’s conservative parliament.
            With parliament ultimately approving 15 out of the 18 proposed ministers, the administration of hope—as Rouhani’s presidency is referred to—had delivered a competent cabinet. Now we could eat.
            There is a new mood in Iran. I recently visited Tehran in August 2013, four years after my last trip in June 2009. Much has changed since.  The Iran of 2009 and the Iran of 2013 are two different places. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Rouhani: Rival Constituencies

Alireza Nader

Hassan Rouhani now faces the hard part. Iran’s president-elect won a decisive and surprising victory because he appealed to three conflicting constituencies— conservatives, reformists exiled from the political system, and Iranians dissatisfied with the status quo. Now his ability to govern will depend on satisfying disparate factions. Each has its own set of expectations—and each is also intent on coming out on top.
      Rouhani may be able to deliver results precisely because he is an insider. Since the 1979 revolution, he has served in some of the Islamic Republic’s highest positions. Before his 2013 election, Rouhani was Iran’s national security advisor for 16 years and then head of a government think tank. So he has close ties to Iran’s military and national security establishment. Rouhani has also been a deputy speaker of parliament and a member of the Assembly of Experts ― the only constitutional body with the authority to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader. Among 686 candidates who registered, he was one of only eight allowed to run for the presidency. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Rouhani: Challenges Ahead

Haleh Esfandiari

            The decisive election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s new president has been greeted around the world as a sign that Iranians are tired of hardline policies at home and abroad and are ready to embrace change. But the outcome also raises the question of how the new president might go about it, given Iran’s powerful clerical leadership and long history of quashing reform efforts.
      Rouhani will inherit from his predecessor a host of difficult, even insurmountable problems. In the past eight years, such limited freedoms as existed have been severely eroded. The economy is in shambles due to Western-imposed sanctions and outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reckless spending and misguided policies. With few real friends, Iran is internationally isolated, and its relations with the US and the Europeans are under strain over Iran’s nuclear program, its support for Assad in Syria, and its inflammatory rhetoric on Israel. Negotiations between Iran and the so-called 5+1 (five members of the UN Security Council and Germany) about Tehran’s nuclear program have been deadlocked.
While he is considered a moderate, Rouhani comes to office as an insider. For sixteen years he was head of Iran’s National Security Council (NSC) and for two years Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Even today, he sits on the NSC as the personal representative of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. He served five terms in the Majlis, or parliament. He sits on two major state councils, one of which, the Assembly of Experts, will elect Khamenei’s successor whenever he passes away. In holding high office, Rouhani was more a team player than a maverick and continues to support many existing Iranian policies. On Syria, since his election he has offered only the formulaic non-answer that the Syrian people should decide their own future through elections.
            Critics have noted that Rouhani spoke in support of the harsh crackdown on student protesters at Tehran University in 1999—he later explained he was in the government at the time and could have not done otherwise. He also was silent when security forces brutally crushed protests following the contested 2009 presidential elections, and his explanation for that silence remains unconvincing: he was not then in the government, he said, the nature of the protests had changed, and the protesters were obligated to act within the laws. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Election:What Rouhani Victory Means for Iran

by Shaul Bakhash

            Hassan Rouhani’s surprising first round victory in the presidential elections represents a significant shift in the Iranian political landscape. In a field of candidates dominated by conservatives, Rouhani ran as a moderate. He questioned the necessity of the expanding security state and the constant oversight of student and civil society associations by the security agencies. He spoke of the need for greater freedom of press and speech. He devoted attention to women’s rights issues and promised to establish a ministry for women’s affairs.
      On the economy, while all the candidates promised to address problems of inflation and unemployment, Rouhani also focused on the institutions that make rational economic policy possible. He said one of his first acts would be to revive what were once key institutions such as the Plan Organization and the Supreme Economic Council, which outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did away with.
      On foreign policy, during the election campaign the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, continued to stress the need for resistance and steadfastness in the face of the ‘hegemonic’ West, warned against those who naively believe compromise with the West will gain Iran positive results, and ridiculed the idea that Iran was internationally isolated. But Rouhani, while appearing as steadfast as the other candidates on Iran’s nuclear rights, stressed the need to find a way out of the impasse with the West on the nuclear issue and to end Iran’s diplomatic isolation. He did not shy away, but rather defended, the softer line on the nuclear issue adopted by the government of President Mohammad Khatami, when Rouhani served as head of the National Security Council and as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Election: Diverse Iranian Press Reaction

      The Iranian press issued both praise and warnings after the election of Hassan Rouhani. In their editorials, reformist publications said the victory by a moderate cleric reflected a rejection of the status quo in politics, the economy and foreign policy. Newspapers heralded the beginning of a new era. The conservative press said the high turnout proved the popularity and legitimacy of Iran’s unique form of theocratic rule and the “ineffectiveness” of sanctions. But hardline commentators also warned that the stunning outcome did not mean Iran would accept “foreign hegemony.” The following is a collection of editorials translated by the BBC Monitoring Service.

Editorial in reformist daily Mardom Salari
            „The vote for Hassan Rouhani is a sign that people reject the current state of affairs and want to remove power from the fundamentalists… It was a vote for his two great supporters, [disqualified candidates] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami… The other main message is the public’s interest in changing the way nuclear negotiations are carried out.“
Commentary in reformist daily E’temad
            „People have shown that they disagree with the country’s foreign policy over the last eight years, which has led to four [UN] resolutions against Iran… Dissatisfaction over the disqualification of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani also gave a boost to Rouhani.“
Commentary in reformist daily E’temad
            „A new political landscape has been created… This opportunity could result in political prisoners being freed and the lifting of the siege on [reformist] presidential election candidates from 2009 and basic steps toward reforming the economy.“
Commentary in reformist daily Bahar
            „Even reformism is going toward moderation and the centre… Both sides must move toward the centre and protect the country’s political atmosphere from radicalisation.“
Commentary in reformist daily Sharq
            „The new president must take control of the economic plan… and start the engine of production, employment, and growth.“
Commentary in reformist daily Sharq
            Conservatives „should not be dissatisfied with this outcome, because the dominant discourse in the election was that of moderation, which is also among their main objectives.“
Editorial in moderate daily Aman
            „The economic burden on the have-nots, unprecedented unemployment and price increases are among the reasons for the high turnout. The impact of economic sanctions is key. It seems that people voted for Rouhani to express their wish for moderate, peaceful policies.“
Editorial in hardline conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami
            The vote represents „the acceptance of moderation and the rejection of extremist thought… Moderation does not mean accepting international hegemony and ignoring the rights of the Iranian nation.“
Commentary in hardline conservative daily Javan
            „The Islamic Republic has passed this election test in a proper way… The winner should learn from the Ahmadinejad years and the reformist era and not follow the same path. Rather, he should address the concerns of the people.“
Commentary in hardline conservative daily Keyhan
            „Enemy think tanks are in a spin… Their mistake was in ignoring the depth of the people’s belief in the Islamic System… The election proved the ineffectiveness of sanctions… [It] also showed the world that there was no vote rigging and fraud in the free elections.“
Editorial in conservative daily Khorasan
            „The participation of 72.7% of eligible voters indicates that the people followed the Supreme Leader’s [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] call for an epic political act to protect the country and the Islamic system.“


Fresh Iran Polls Hint At Clash Of Political Currents

Source: RFE/RL

Two fresh opinion polls show Hassan Rohani, the candidate on whom many pro-reform elements in Iran are pinning their hopes, in a virtual tie with conservative candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf ahead of this week’s presidential election.

Hassan Rohani supporters in Tehran streets

In its latest survey on the candidates, conducted in the last two days, Mehr public opinion survey center in Tehran says Qalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran and a former security official, is the front-runner with 17.8 percent support. The poll puts Rohani, a former nuclear negotiator, on 14.6 percent support. The research is a sampling of the views of 800 people in 31 provincial centers. Mehr is related to the semiofficial news agency of the same name and is regarded as close to conservatives. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Boell-Stiftung| Präsidentschaftswahlen im Iran: Beteiligung oder Boykott?

Ehsan Mehrabi und Farin Fakhari

Nach der Revolution von 1979 war Beteiligung oder  Boykott von Wahlen in der Islamischen Republik Irans eine entscheidende Frage für die Oppositionellen des Landes. Heute ist ein erheblicher Teil, insbesondere wenn er säkular ist, aus den politischen Institutionen ausgeschlossen,  und  kann nur in der Illegalität oder im Exil aktiv sein. Der Begriff der „Opposition“ ist im iranischen Kontext ein wenig missverständlich. Es ist nicht immer klar, ob damit nur jene Kräfte gemeint sind, die aus der aktiven Beteiligung im politischen System ausgeschlossen sind, wie Monarchisten, die säkulare Linke, republikanische und religiöse Nationalisten oder etwa die Volksmujahedin.

Wahlwerbung des Präsidentschaftskandidaten Dr. Mohsen Rezai - „Wir wollen wieder Moral in der Politik, Erfolge in der Wirtschaft und Frieden in den Familien“

Wahlwerbung des Präsidentschaftskandidaten Dr. Mohsen Rezai – „Wir wollen wieder Moral in der Politik, Erfolge in der Wirtschaft und Frieden in den Familien“
Volksnahe Organisation der Veteranen, CC-BY-SA 2.0

Die aus dem politischen Establishment der Islamischen Republik kommenden und in den vergangenen Jahren immer mehr aus der Politik Gedrängten, die zum Teil ebenfalls Verfolgten oder ins Exil getriebenen Reformisten –  jene die noch innerhalb des Systems gelegentlich als „kleineres Übel“ ausgemacht werden – können auch als „Opposition“ betrachtet werden. Bei der Frage der Wahlbeteiligung geht es genau darum, ob man deren Kandidaten aus strategischen Gründen unterstützen soll oder nicht.

Dies hängt unmittelbar mit ihren Erfahrungen in den letzten fünfzehn Jahren zusammen. Die Präsidentschaftswahlen von 1997, die zur Präsidentschaft von Seyed Mohammad Khatami führten, wie die umstrittenen Wahlen von 2009, boten aus strategischer Perspektive den Oppositionskräften im Ausland mehr Anreiz, an den Wahlen teilzunehmen. Zum Beispiel unterstützten Teile der Exilopposition Kandidaten der Reformisten, wie den Kandidaten Mehdi Karoubi , insbesondere wegen seiner Position zu Menschenrechtsfragen. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Latest on the Race: Two Candidates Drop Out

Two candidates – one hardliner and one reformer  have quit Iran’s presidential race, leaving six competing in the June 14 poll. Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, a “principlist” hardliner and ex-parliamentary speaker, dropped out on June 10. Mohammad Reza Aref, a reformist and former vice president, followed on June 11. He received a letter from former President Mohammad Khatami advising him to step down. 
One reformer, two independents and three conservatives now remain in the running. The only candidate to gain from the smaller slate of candidates is Hassan Rouhani, who is now the lone reformist candidate. Khatami and other reformist leaders have declared their support for Rouhani, a cleric and former secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. Haddad-Adel did not officially endorse any other candidate. The following are excerpts from their withdrawal statements.

Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel
       “I announce my withdrawal from the presidential race to help promote the conservative victory… I hope that the conservatives win in the first round, but if it goes to the second round, the competition will be between two conservatives.
      “With my withdrawal I ask the dear people to strictly observe the criteria of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) when they vote for candidates… I advise the dear people to make a correct decision so that either a principlist wins in the first round, or if the election runs to a second round, the competition be between two principlists.”
Mohammad Reza Aref
      “At dusk on Monday… I received a letter from Mohammad Khatami… He said it would not be wise for me to remain in the race…In consideration of Mr. Khatami’s explicit opinion, and the experiences of two past presidential elections, I declare my withdrawal from the election campaign.”


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