x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ahmadinejad picks new cabinet as opposition forms new movement

The Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi has announced though his website the formation of a grass-roots social and political movement for promoting democracy and adherence to the law: the Green Path of Hope Association. The move comes after a promise Mr Moussavi made last month as the opposition movement continues to defy an ongoing campaign of intimidation by the Iranian government.

The Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi has announced through his website the formation of a grass-roots social and political movement for promoting democracy and adherence to the law: the Green Path of Hope Association. The move comes after a promise Mr Moussavi made last month as the opposition movement continues to defy an ongoing campaign of intimidation by the Iranian government. "The movement is not a political party - which would require a government permit - but a 'grass-roots and social network' that will promote democracy and adherence to the law, Mr Moussavi wrote in a statement on his site," The New York Times said. "It is to be known as the Green Way of Hope, in deference to the signature bright green colour of his campaign for the June 12 presidential election, which he maintains was rigged in favour of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "The announcement was Mr Moussavi's first major public statement since the Iranian authorities stepped up their pressure on the opposition by opening a mass trial two weeks ago. Prosecutors have accused Mr Moussavi's campaign of links to a vast conspiracy to bring down the Iranian government. After he and many others denounced the trial, the chief prosecutor issued a stark warning that anyone questioning the trial's legitimacy could in turn be prosecuted. "Since then, a stream of hard-line lawmakers and clerics have called for Mr Moussavi and other leading opposition figures to be arrested and tried. "Mr Moussavi said little in his statement about the mission and activities of the new movement, perhaps to avoid giving pretexts for a further crackdown and to keep its potential membership as broad as possible." Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported: "In a daring move, a group of former reformist lawmakers, now supporters of the opposition, have challenged whether the Islamic Republic's top man in power is fit to rule. "The unprecedented complaint against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came in a letter to one of Iran's highest clerical bodies, the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to name people to the leadership post - and to remove them. The letter marks the first time a political group has questioned the authority of the supreme leader. "The letter was addressed to Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who now heads the assembly and is a critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr Rafsanjani shunned the inauguration ceremony of the president on August 5, as well as Mr Khamenei's endorsement ceremony. "The letter states that according to Iran's constitution, the supreme leader isn't above the law and that the assembly has the right to review his performance as a religious and political leader. " 'We demand a legal probe on the basis of Article 111 of the Constitution, which is a responsibility of the Experts Assembly,' stated the letter, which was written by the head of the organisation of former reformist lawmakers. Article 111 says if the supreme leader 'becomes incapable of fulfilling his constitutional duties,' he will be dismissed. "The letter likely won't result in any action from the Assembly because the hard-liners have marginalised the reformists. But it signals an important turning point for the reform movement. Analysts say the reform movement has become more radical and is placing itself squarely against the regime and its top authority. "Criticising the supreme leader was once unthinkable, and had serious repercussions. Now, demonstrators regularly chant slurs against Mr Khamenei and write insults about him in green spray paint on walls in the capital. "Letter writing also has surged. In Iran, political discourse, even the most serious, has long been in the form of an open letter. When behind-the-scenes negotiations hit a dead end, the issues are shared with the public in print. "These letters now are a crucial communication tool for opposition leaders banned from public speaking. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, along with former president Mohammad Khatami, all have written letters to the supreme leader and to various government bodies complaining about election turmoil." In other developments, the Associated Press reported: "Iran expanded a mass trial of opposition supporters on Sunday with the addition of 25 defendants - including a Jewish teenager - in defiance of international condemnation, as France said Iran agreed to release a French woman held on spying charges from prison. "The defendants are among more than 100 people charged with plotting a 'soft revolution' against the Islamic theocracy during the post-election protests. The mass trial is part of an attempt to put an end to the protests by those who say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's June 12 re-election was the result of fraud." The Xinhua news agency said: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday strongly criticised certain neighbouring states for adopting policies which serve the interests of the 'Zionist regime,' the semi-official Fars news agency reported. " 'We are sorry for those countries around us and those neighbours who are at the service of the Zionist and are providing means for Israel's hegemony over the world,' Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying. " 'They (certain neighbours) don't understand that they are facilitating the Zionists. We hope they could wake up,' said Ahmadinejad." Deutsche Welle added: "Ahmadinejad on Sunday condemned policies adopted by the European Union and US following the disputed June 12 presidential election, state media reported, as he announced his new cabinet. " 'You have clearly interfered in Iran's internal affairs and were naïve enough to think that you can damage the system but with God's help you failed,' Ahmadinejad said. "The EU and US have not acknowledged Ahmadinejad's re-election. They have also decried the country's harsh response towards the protests that took place over the alleged election fraud as well detained dissidents. " 'You (world powers) will be held accountable for this ballyhoo you made in the world,' the president said." Meanwhile, The National reported: "Iran's new chief justice began work yesterday facing the daunting task of dealing with the politically charged trials of those accused of involvement in the unrest that followed the presidential elections in June. "Hojjatol Eslam Sadegh Larijani's first day featured the third mass court action against those facing charges linked to massive demonstrations that erupted after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election.[...] "Of the country's three branches of governments - judiciary, legislative and executive - two are now headed by Larijani brothers, the other being Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker. A third brother, Mohammad Javad Larijani, is a high-profile politician and former deputy foreign minister. "Mr Larijani, 49, had long been considered as the favoured candidate for the post, but recently there had been rumours he declined to take over the judiciary before the end of the trials of opposition figures and those involved in post-election protests. Although a cleric, Mr Larijani is more well known for his political activities." The Los Angeles Times said on Sunday: "Ahmadinejad today named a hard-line loyalist with strong ties to the Revolutionary Guard and the pro-government Basiji militia to oversee the country's vast intelligence infrastructure.[...] "Ahmadinejad has already taken de facto control of Iran's intelligence ministry after purging it of officials deemed insufficiently loyal. Today he nominated Heydar Moslehi, a mid-ranking cleric, to lead the crucial ministry, which controls a vast trove of data on Iranians as well as an extensive human and electronic surveillance infrastructure. "Moslehi served as an advisor to Ahmadinejad on clerical affairs and is close to Khamenei. "In an unprecedented move, Ahmadinejad also proposed two women to Cabinet posts: Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi to the ministry of health, and Fatemeh Ajorlou to head the nation's vast welfare and social security department. Both Ajorlou and proposed industry minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian have pending legal troubles and can expect troubles in parliament, analyst said. "Hossein Sobhani-nia, deputy head of the parliament's foreign policy and national security committee, told the Mehr News Agency that he would elevate chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, a staunch ally, to the foreign ministry chief, a move that will be interpreted by many European diplomats as a slap in the face."

pwoodward@thenational.ae