Saturday, September 8, 2007

Khamenei and the Assembly of Experts Elections

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, warned the Iranian media not to cover issues related to Tuesday’s elections in the Assembly of Experts and Rafsanjan’s victory over Jannati. The unusual and extremely blunt warning came during Khamenei’s meeting with the members of the Assembly of Experts last Thursday (Baztab).

The moderate and reformist newspapers carried large pictures of Rafsanjani in their coverage of the elections and generally interpreted the result as a victory of the moderates over fundamentalist supporters of President Ahmadinejad. The Supreme Leader called these papers “local media with bad manners.” Khamenie accused them of repeating the enemy’s propaganda. Iran analysts now wonder if having a “bad manner” is an offense in Iran, what the punishment is, does it also cover political figures, and how bad should one’s manner be to get into trouble.

Rafsanjani now heads the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council. Ahmadinejad is under attack for his miserable economic policies and the growing international isolation of Iran, and the cash flow from the high oil prices can not resolve all the problems. Hence Khamenei’s worries: a growing influence of Rafsanjani and the moderates and an ending to fundamentalists’ monopoly of power. Khamenei must believe that fundamentalists' problem if not covered by the press would disappear.

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