Iran Press Review: 25 August

Politics

  • Khodnevis website released an interview between VOA Persian journalist Bizhan Farhoudi (BF) and Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani (MHR), son of Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Expediency Council chairman. The exact date of the interview is not known, but it seems to have taken place sometime after 2009, but before Mehdi Hashemi's return to Iran on September 23, 2012:
    • BF: "Are you in touch with your Dad?"
    • MHR: "Yes, we talk every night." 
    • BF: "Is your Dad still feeling the wrath [of the regime] since his retention as the Expediency Council chairman? Why did [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei reinstate him? Was Khamenei afraid that Hashemi [Rafsanjani] would do something?" 
    • MHR: "No, this had two reasons... This position of Mr. Hashemi is not important. He would travel to Qom and become the head of the country's largest opposition group. This would not be to the benefit of Mr. Khamenei... Of course, my Dad would not do this. Their relationship is emotional... They have been friends for fifty years... Whatever was done to Hashemi, Khamenei said 'it was not my work, the Judiciary did it and I did not intervene.'"
    • BF: "I always held the belief that your Dad was among the main pillars of this regime and has the life of the regime in his hands." 
    • MHR: "My Dad is the faculty of reason of this country, it is him who takes care of the country at times of crisis. Of course, until six to seven years ago, his presence at times of crisis guaranteed the [survival] of the state, but now his presence is not so. Since 1988 to 1991 Mr. Hashemi was the head of it all." 
    • BF: "Your father is known as Rasmanjani [officially murderer]. It was during your father's tenure that the greatest number of political and social figures took place. Ca. 270 assassinations, which Reza Allamehzadeh's documentary deals with."
    • MHR: "The words you use are not correct at all. I do not recognize them. Show me the list." 
    • BF: "One of these people was Shapour Bakhtiyar who was assassinated during your father's tenure." 
    • MHR: "Concerning Bakhtiar, I believe my father knew. First, the death of Bakhtiyar was [in] Ayatollah [Rouhollah] Khomeini's testament. Second, Bakhtiyar was the reason behind the invasion of Iran [by Iraq]. At a tribunal headed by Ayatollah [Mohammad] Yazdi, he was convicted as a war criminal. Evidence was presented, which show that Bakhtiar visited Saddam [Hussein] and had provoked him to attack Iran." 
    • BF: "Is it out of fear of arrest by Interpol that your father does not travel abroad?" 
    • MHR: "No, this is not so. My Dad has no Interpol red notice. My Dad has never traveled abroad. [Jaques] Chirac invited him ten times and he did not go. Dad visited Indonesia, and Malaysia but not to the West. There were many invitations extended to him. Mitterand too invited him... Why he did not go? Because he said, if I travel abroad they will find out that I'm a nobody and can't give them any promises." 
    • BF: "Has your Dad a private army?" 
    • MHR: "No, he has not. His guardsmen are from the [Revolutionary] Guards... Mr. Khamenei's own people." 
    • BF: "You are the son of the Expediency Council chairman. Do you consider yourself as a part of the regime?" 
    • MHR: "No, I do not consider myself as part of the regime. As you know, my arrest order is related to the election issue. They believe it was me who masterminded all the issues behind the elections. The people however took to the streets by themselves. The three million who came out did so because of their devotion to Mr. Mousavi. If Mr. Khamenei imprisons us, it would do him harm." 
    • BF: "Certainly, you are a believer in the guardianship of the jurist as someone connected to the regime." 
    • MHR: "No, I do not necessarily believe in guardianship of the jurist, and my father too is opposed to it. According to my father, this issue is problematic. He has pointed to this issue in a speech, but if I say that I am opposed to the regime of the Islamic Republic, I would be lying. I believe in correcting the constitution. Our constitution is based on the French constitution. Our president is the deputy of our guardian jurist. The prime minister is the deputy of the president. Partially, the problem of this constitution lies in the guardianship not being limited by time. Should the guardian jurist rule for eight or ten years, the [Assembly] of Experts would not work properly. This is why our constitution is problematic." 
    • BF: "Do you still hold the belief that the $15 million STATOIL bribe was not transferred to your company?" 
    • MHR: "I have on many occasions said this: I did not receive $15 million. This contract has been investigated by the entire world. The Azeri president has been accused. The Norwegian, Swiss and the American FBI has investigated it. How can such a thing be possible? Everything in my life is clear. I do not have a house anywhere abroad, not in anyone's name. This really is a lie. Not a cent has been transferred to my account. Contrary to rumors, we do not have construction activity in Canada." 
    • BF: "Thirty something years since the revolution, Hashemi Rafsanjani is still considered as one of the famous billionaires of Iran. You probably know the joke: Your Dad said, 'We were taking a rest, suddenly we saw Iran fall [from the sky] upon our lands!' Is your family wealth hereditary?" 
    • MHR: "My father had a thousands pieces of land before the revolution. He gave away 980 of these lands to theological students, and gave the remaining 20 to his children. A piece of land was outside of Qom, which was situated in a good place. He was partner with three others... Before the revolution, the price of those lands suddenly rose." 
    • BF: "It is being said that you, your father and the rest of the family have pocketed a fabulous wealth which you have sent abroad. Is it true?" 
    • MHR: "No, this is a total lie. Just like it was being said that the Shah has taken $25 billion [with him out of Iran.] Right?" 
    • BF: "Do you agree that the Shah has not taken such a wealth [out of Iran]?" 
    • MHR: "I do agree... The estimate concerning the Shah, $50 million, is correct. A bunch of second rate people took more money out of the country. It is the same thing with the Islamic Republic... Second rate people took more money... For example this Mr. Khavari... There are hundreds of Khavaris. Where does Mr. Reza Pahlavi? Let's compare... Compare the two lives. I am ready to exchange whatever I have with Reza Pahlavi, and you be the judge of it! 
    • BF: "You are wealthier than he is!" 
    • MHR: "By God no... I swear to God no! I am ready to exchange whatever I have with him and you be the judge of it!" 
    • BF: "But finding your wealth is like finding a needle in the haystack!" 
    • MHR: "It is not at all so, whatever we have is documented. Let's hire a lawyer to track down the wealth!" 
    • BF: "It is being said that Abbas Yazdi is your chancellor." 
    • MHR: "This is all nonsense." 
    • BF: "Mehdi, you are the God of dismissal!" 
    • MHR: "You want me to say he is my chancellor? He is not!" 
    • BF: "Yes, you don't need a chancellor since you have no money!" 
    • MHR: "No, not that I don't have [money]... I'm doing well, my life is alright but I don't have such amounts." 
    • BF: "You are not working here in Britain." 
    • MHR: "How come I don't work? I'm receiving a salary here. I'm receiving 7/8 thousand Pounds here on monthly basis. I work for the Azad University. We have eight branches abroad. I visit them all the time. My expense is 10/11000 pounds per month... My own and my wife's expenses in Tehran. We have a home and a life... Every month I pay 1000 pounds for my kids... I have the Oxford University expenses, which is 15000 pounds on annual basis..."
    • BF: "You may know that the Crown Prince [Reza Pahlavi] is trying to form an institution called the National Council. Do you appreciate the effort? Do you think it will go anywhere? Are they afraid of the Crown Prince in Iran?"
    • MHR: "Yes, I know, he is a good kid, but no, it will not reach anything. It is a good thing that they try to organize the forces but the people here are fighting among themselves. No, they are not afraid!" 
    • BF: "I have heard they fear his mother more." 
    • MHR: "No, they don't fear anyone... They fear someone who is capable of organizing. As long as you are alone, even if you utter two thousand insults they would not do you anything. But they fear us... because I can organize. I can use my name to do fundraising among rich people in the world. If you have a plan, they will give you financial aid." 
    • BF: "Plan to topple the regime? Abroad or within the country?"
    • MHR: "For anything, even here abroad." 
    • BF: "You have no construction [work] in Canada?" 
    • MHR: "We have nothing." 
    • BF: "How about the Palm Island? You have no investments there?" 
    • MHR: "No, we have nothing. Palm [Island] belongs to the Emirate government." 
    • BF: "You have nothing outside of Iran?"
    • MHR: "No, we have nothing. I have an account in Dubai." 
    • BF: "How about Mr. Haji [Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani]?"
    • MHR: : "What need has Mr. Haji for that? He will die the day after tomorrow!" 
    • BF: "How is your Dad's health?" 
    • MHR: "Good."
    • BF: "How about Khamenei's health? It was said that he has prostate cancer and will not live much longer."
    • MHR: "His cancer was cured." 
    • BF: "They also say he has depression."
    • MHR: "Yes, he sometimes has it."
    • BF: "They also say he smokes opium." 
    • MHR: "I don't know. He smokes cigarettes and pipe, but I don't know about opium and drugs. I don't know, I have not seen. Now, he smokes cigarettes and pipe, which I have seen. No one has seen him smoke opium. It is being said, but no one has seen... I'm not saying he is or is not [doing so]... When ever he came to our home, he would sleep in my room. Sometimes, Khamenei sleeps in the home in Niavaran. He has four to five homes. Most evenings he stays at [Avenue] Pasteur."
    • BF: "Is the fight between the heads of the powers of the state for show?"
    • MHR: "These fights have kept the Islamic Republic alive. These fights have consolidated the regime, since people consider [the factionalism] as democracy. It is not for show, it is for real. The fights however, are among themselves... Within our own regime, there is democracy... Amongst themselves, they have democracy, but outside the [circle of] the elites of the regime, there is dictatorship. Khamenei encourages such fights. The elites know how far they can advance [their fight]. This means, they have accepted certain principles. Last time, 40 million people voted. Before that, 30 million voted for Mr. Khatami. Such elections have kept the Islamic Republic on its feet. But in the last election, Mr. [Mir-Hossein] Mousavi, dismissed the principles. Even my Dad, dismissed the principles, which led to a fight that questioned the legitimacy of the regime. They are angry with us and say 'you did not abide by the rules of the game.' We in return say, 'you abandoned the rules of the game, because elections among us [elites] must be sound.'"
    • BF: "Do you really believe there was electoral fraud in 2009?"
    • MHR: "I believe, if the election proceeded to the second round, Mousavi would have won. I have statistics showing that Mousavi's vote was higher in the first round... In the first round, Mousavi was two percent ahead of Ahmadineajd, ca 48% against [Ahmadinejad's] 46%." 
    • BF: "What was the deal between you? Who was supposed to win?"
    • MHR: "We said whoever got the most vote." 
    • BF: "Why did they not allow this [to happen]?" 
    • MHR: "They were a bunch of asses! Do you know why the election developed into a crisis? Mr. Khamenei wanted to get rid of my Dad and Mousavi!" 
    • BF: "How long do you think this regime will last?"
    • MHR: "For the past thirty years, people here [abroad] are saying the regime is collapsing. This regime has three bases: They have money, they have a powerful leader, and they have a group of supporters. External pressure may surpass a certain limit and different things may happen, but doing away with this regime is not that easy. Foreigners may work on a Libya [style regime toppling] model, and impose heavy sanctions. The Americans are doing their utmost to reach result."
    • BF: "Don't you think there would be strikes, if there are cracks within the security services?"
    • MHR: "Within the system, the recruitment system in the security systems is strong. Whoever is employed, it is known who their family has been for the past five generations. They have grown up within this system. Of course, if the sanctions become heavier and the foreigners work on Libya style [regime toppling] models, things may occur, but not with the kid plays like these. In order to change the regime, there are several models, such as the Yugoslavia model, the Iraq model, and the like... The Iraq model is dead and the Libya model requires [United Nations] Security Council authorization. If the Russians back out, it may work: Military attack from the air and use of domestic forces such as the Kurds coupled with people taking to the streets..." 

Daily Picture(s)

  • Dr. Ali-Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) offers comments at the "Special Exhibition of the Achievements of the Nuclear Industry."
  • Iran’s Mohajer-4 UAV on display during this weekend’s Ministry of Defense (MODAFL) fair.
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Center for Strategic Research Chairman Dr. Ali-Akbar Velayati visit Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani, the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts in the Hospital.

Contributor(s): Ali Alfoneh & Behnam Ben Taleblu 

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