Khamenei’s New Motto “Resistance” Targets the US and Rouhani
The no-holds-barred ideological contest between Iran’s conservative hard-liners and reformists continues to blaze since Iran’s election, amid a sagging economy and deepening discord between Tehran and Washington. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani lead the two rival camps.
Khamenei is intent on persecuting Rouhani and his party followers by nullifying their election gains, which were achieved in the face of the smear campaign the supreme leader and his minions pursued against them. They were vilified as “British agents” plotting to “destroy the principles of the Islamic revolution.” Voters were urged not to vote for candidates “recommended” by London, a reference to the OMID (Hope) list in which Rouhani joined two former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani, who stand opposed to the hard- liners.
OMID nonetheless pulled ahead and did well – most of all in Tehran.
Khamenei and cohorts were not yet done. They are eyeing the second round of the vote in about a month’s time, when one-third of the seats in parliament (the Majlis) are up for grabs.
The conservatives are going all-out to block any more reformist candidates getting in. They are powerfully armed with the Constitutional Council, which is totally under Khamenei’s thumb. This body has so far held back from confirming the results of the first round. They are now instructed to disqualify several reformist candidates, to make way for conservatives who were trounced in the first round.
It will take another two months to determine whether the radical groups’ tactics have succeeded in dwarfing the gains of their reformist rivals.
In any case, they command several back-up mechanisms for cutting the reformist opposition down to size. All new laws promulgated by parliament for reforming the regime’s policies on economic, social or international affairs must be ratified by the Constitutional Council, which has the power to revoke laws and prohibit their implementation.
This same body can be instructed by the supreme leader not just to disbar Rouhani from reelection as president in two years time, but threaten his life and liberty. Rouhani has been cautioned that by openly challenging Khamenei, he lays himself open to prosecution on charges of corruption and the misappropriation of national assets.
For such “misdeeds,” Rafsanjani and his family are persecuted, while Khatami was declared “a prohibited person,” whose image may not appear in the media. According to some sources, he is forbidden to leave the country.
Khamenei wrapped Rouhani and the United States in the same abusive package in the speech he delivered in Mashhad on March 20 on the occasion of Nowruz (Persian New Year).
The nuclear deal (advocated strongly by the president) had failed to reinvigorate the economy, he charged. Iran’s negotiators had moreover caved in to US pressure and breached national red lines.
The election gains claimed by Rouhani and his party were slammed by the supreme leader as representing
an “American plot” to mess with the minds of the Islamic Republic’s elite and, by extension, the general public.
He dedicated the new Persian year to “The Resistance Economy: Initiation and Action” – calling on the faithful to go into action and subject Rouhani’s agenda to close and critical scrutiny.
In their Friday prayers sermons, hard-line clerics followed his lead. They accused Rouhani of cheating the country with his promise that the nuclear deal with the six powers would restore the economy to prosperity.
Rouhani tried to answer Khamenei in a public speech, maintaining that nobody expects miracles, and that hard work is needed to revitalize the economy.
But talking sense is no answer to negative propaganda and the resounding Khameni motto, which summons all radicals to step forward and gang up on the reformist president’s program of economic recovery.