Keeping An Eye On Iran

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 21, 2009

The latest . . .

1. It looks as though Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will have a tough time getting some of his cabinet ministers confirmed by the Iranian parliament (Majles), so he is determined to go on a charm offensive to sell his nominees. But charm offensives will only take one so far, and Ahmadinejad has problems no amount of charm will be able to overcome:

As [Ahmadinejad] spoke, the capital erupted with defiant cries of “Allahu Akbar!” and “Death to the dictator!” from rooftops and windows in what has become a nightly ritual of protest against the nation’s June 12 presidential election, which was marred by allegations of massive vote-rigging in Ahmadinejad’s favor.

Already weakened after two months of political and social unrest, Ahmadinejad continues to face a torrent of troubles.

The deputy speaker of parliament has predicted that at least five of the 21 Cabinet nominees will be rejected, and at least three are unknown figures who could come under intense scrutiny. Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani expressed doubts about Ahmadinejad’s pick to head the Intelligence Ministry, a loyalist who campaigned for the president.

“Mr. Ahmadinejad has not consulted the specialized committees in parliament prior to announcing the list of his Cabinet ministers on Wednesday,” hard-line lawmaker Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard told state television. “Getting confidence votes for them will be difficult.”

News agencies also revealed that the president’s brother-in-law and chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, has been convicted on charges of financial impropriety and has been suspended from his government post for two months, though he is attempting to appeal.

Another court has ordered the closing of Ahmadinejad’s most strident mouthpiece, the Kayhan daily newspaper, after its editor refused to answer to defamation charges leveled against it by a reformist.

Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, a staunch Ahmadinejad ally, must confirm the order, but he is said to be in danger of losing his job as Sadegh Larijani, Iran’s new judiciary chief, asserts his power.

The way I figure it, if one steals an election in order to keep power, one deserves all the problems in the world that come with that power. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s problems make me smile. They would make me smile more, of course, if Iranians did not have to suffer thanks to his presence as president in Iran.

2. Speaking of problems for Ahmadinejad . . .

Iranian reformist cleric Mehdi Karoubi on Wednesday asked to meet top officials including the president to be able to present evidence of the rape of some detained post-election protesters, his party said.

The Etemad-e Melli website said Karoubi made the call in a letter to parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who has dismissed Karoubi’s rape allegations last week as “baseless.”

The meeting should be attended by Larijani, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the state prosecutor, Karoubi said.

“I ask you to organize a meeting … in which I can personally present my documents and evidence over the cases of sexual abuse in some prisons,” Karoubi said in the letter.

“I am waiting for your quick and rational action,” he added.

The sound you hear in the distance is the regime becoming tremendously uncomfortable. Here is why.

3. More on torture in Iran. A short piece, but there is plenty there to appall you.

4. Alexander Benard advises the Obama Administration to engage Iran on the issue of human rights in the event that it wants to negotiate with Iran. I like this idea. I like it so much that I proposed a version of it three years ago.

  • Rich_Rostrom

    This is weird. Ali Larijani publicly objects to one of Ahmedinejad's cabinet picks; then he turns around and blows off Karoubi's rape charges. Which side is he on? A court convicts Ahmedinejad's brother-in-law: the fix was not in? Another court orders Ahmedinejad's house newspaper shut down for defaming an oppositionist…

    It's a very peculiar sort of dictatorship. Neither Ahmedinejad nor Khamenei have the sort of autocratic power enjoyed by a true dictator.

  • Rich_Rostrom

    This is weird. Ali Larijani publicly objects to one of Ahmedinejad's cabinet picks; then he turns around and blows off Karoubi's rape charges. Which side is he on? A court convicts Ahmedinejad's brother-in-law: the fix was not in? Another court orders Ahmedinejad's house newspaper shut down for defaming an oppositionist…

    It's a very peculiar sort of dictatorship. Neither Ahmedinejad nor Khamenei have the sort of autocratic power enjoyed by a true dictator.

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