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memri
November 17, 2005 No.
253

The ‘Second Islamic Revolution’ in Iran: Power Struggle at the Top

By: A. Savyon*

Introduction

As noted by MEMRI in June 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's win in Iran's presidential elections signaled the coming of the "Second Islamic Revolution."

This is marked by Ahmadinejad's commitment to the ideal of "Islamic justice" as embodied in the messianic belief in the Hidden Imam, and his commitment to the implementation of the ideology of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution. It is also marked by the struggle over key positions in the regime.[1]

In a statement on November 15, 2005, Ahmadinejad explained: "The people, in the last elections, proved their faith in the Revolution, and wish to see a revival of the Islamic Revolution's ideals... This revolution was in fact a continuation of the Prophets' movement and, therefore, all political, economic, and cultural goals of the country need to be directed at materializing the Islamic ideals." He added, "Followers of this divine school of Islamic thought are doing their best to pave the way for the urgent reappearance [of the Hidden Imam]."

Ahmadinejad warned of the danger of deviating from the identity, ideals and virtues of the Islamic Revolution, saying that if this happened, Iranian society would be living aimlessly and lose its noble destination: "So it is our obligation to direct people back to those glorious ideals and to lead the way in the establishment of an exemplary, powerful and progressive Islamic society… Iran must emerge as the most powerful, most advanced country…"[2]

Iran today is at the height of a power struggle in the upper echelons of its regime. The reformist camp has disappeared from the Iranian political scene, and the regime's center of gravity has shifted to the fundamentalist militaristic conservative group, which centers on clerics such as Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi, and on members of the security establishment, particularly the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and the intelligence apparatuses. Today, this group controls the Majlis and the office of the president.

Khamenei's Reaction

On the eve of the presidential elections, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei explained his policy on the need for balance between the two political branches of the regime: "We believe that the existence of two factions faithful to the constitution serves the regime... [The two factions - the conservatives and reformists] - function like two wings [of a bird], enabling it to fly... in a competitive and progressive atmosphere... We will not permit those who do not believe in the constitution and in the regime to lead... The middle path and the proper approach are reformist conservatism."[3]

Based on this conviction, Khamenei responded to the fundamentalist conservative "Second Revolution" with an attempt to correct the disappearance of the camp of the "reform-seekers" from the political scene, and to restore the political balance that was upset when all the centers of power came to the hands of conservatives - some even more extreme fundamentalists than himself.

To this end, in early October 2005 Khamenei entrenched the position of Expediency Council Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - who had been badly beaten by Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections - and expanded the powers of the council, giving it greater oversight of the regime's overall policy and of the activity of the regime's three branches.[4]

By doing so, Khamenei officially anchored Rafsanjani's status as Number Two in the Iranian leadership. At this point, Rafsanjani oversees the three branches of Iran's regime; hierarchically, he is above President Ahmadinejad, Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Hadad-'Adel, and Judiciary System head Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi (the only one above Rafsanjani is, of course, Khamenei himself, the Supreme Leader and head of the state).[5]

This move by Khamenei constituted reinforcement of the relatively moderate camp currently represented by Rafsanjani. In contrast to President Ahmadinejad and his supporters, Rafsanjani is perceived as a pragmatic leader. Although never one of or identified with the "reform-seekers," the positions he expressed in recent years attest to his pragmatism, particularly in the areas of economy and foreign policy. Rafsanjani is from the founding generation of the Islamic Revolution, a minor cleric who was close to Ayatollah Khomeini and who since the revolution has held top posts in regime circles. As a wealthy and highly influential figure in the affairs of the state, Rafsanjani has, in Khamenei's view, been a counterweight to the increasing extremism of Ahmadinejad and his supporters.[6]

There is another version regarding Rafsanjani’s empowerment: According to Iranian web forums, Rafsanjani's appointment was not at Khamenei's initiative. Rather, Khamenei was forced into it by the ayatollahs - among them Judiciary System head Shahroudi, Council of Experts head Meshkini, and others. The ayatollahs came to Khamenei with a demand to fire Ahmadinejad, after the latter demanded that they produce administrative and financial reports on what was being done in the organizations and institutions in their charge. The ayatollahs asserted that there was a precedent for firing a president: when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself fired President Bani-Sadr in June 1981.

Khamenei rejected that demand. However, when the ayatollahs threatened to depose Khamenei himself, he agreed to an alternative move - empowering Rafsanjani over Ahmadinejad.[7]

The possible emergence of the power struggle in the regime was discussed in an analysis by Mohsen Sazegara,[8] an Iranian anti-regime intellectual who is active today in the U.S. Sazegara said that following the June 2005 presidential election, the group of fundamentalist conservatives who had supported Khamenei turned into a threat to his absolute status.[9]

Ironically, it is precisely this group - the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, whose powers Khamenei toiled greatly to increase at the expense of the veteran conservatives, and whose political activity he permitted - that is likely to topple Khamenei in the near future. This fundamentalist conservative group is trying to militarize the Iranian government by conquering as many political posts as it can.

Another arena in which Khamenei is likely to find himself threatened in the future, according to Sazegara, is the Council of Experts - the only senior body authorized by the Iranian constitution to depose him.

Khamenei was appointed to his position as heir to Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini by Khomeini himself - despite his lack of the jurisprudent qualifications required by the doctrine of "the Rule of the Jurisprudent" (velayat-e faqih) that Khomeini himself had set. Khamenei is in power thanks to the support of the Council of Experts - a supreme body that comprises ayatollahs loyal to the Islamic Revolution regime. So far, the council has supported all of Khamenei's decisions. But, Sazegara argues, if the makeup of the council changes as a result of next year's elections, and its new members prefer the fundamentalist militaristic faction led by Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi, its automatic support for Khamenei may be undermined.[10]

Characteristics of the Emerging Power Struggle in the Upper Echelons

Ahmadinejad and the fundamentalist militaristic faction pose an increasing threat to the senior ranks of the veteran conservative regime and to the economic power that they have accumulated in the 26 years of the Islamic Revolution.

A. Religious and Ideological Aspects

In recent weeks, there has been an increase in reports of a strict fundamentalist policy being laid out and implemented by Ahmadinejad, with the aim of implementing his statements about attaining "Islamic justice according to the values of the Islamic Revolution." Already in his election campaign, Ahmadinejad had declared his ideological loyalty to the implementation of the ideal of "Islamic justice."

Ahmadinejad's public addresses attest to his religious commitment to the messianic ideas of the Shi'a in the spirit of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to the reappearance of the Hidden Imam, and to the profound belief in the historic existential struggle between two civilizations, Islam and the West - in which Islam is bound to triumph. He perceives these principles as guidelines that his government and Iran should strive to realize.[11]

Following are three examples:

1. Commitment to the Ideal of "Islamic Justice"

Since early November, there have been reports on Ahmadinejad's intention to implement extensive land reforms and to give Iran's poor citizens shares in government companies. It has also been reported that Ahmadinejad is planning to replace the boards of directors of seven government banks. Immediately afterwards, reports came on the fall of the Tehran stock exchange, which has not rallied for two weeks.[12] Ahmadinejad also undertook to act against the corruption widespread in the government ministries, and amongst senior regime officials.[13]

These measures pose a threat to senior officials in the regime, who will be harmed if Ahmadinejad exposes their administration methods. The upper echelons of the veteran conservative regime have through the years become bogged down in managing daily affairs, and have distanced themselves from messianic and Revolutionary ideals. They have engaged in factional disputes and squabbles, and accusations of personal corruption have been leveled at ayatollahs and high-ranking regime officials. In recent years, Rafsanjani himself has been accused of involvement in regime and economic corruption, particularly in the Oil Ministry, as have members of his family. It should be noted that so far, Ahmadinejad's nominees for oil minister have not been ratified by the Majlis.

2. Commitment to the Ideal of Shehadat (Martyrdom)

Already in his second television appearance as president, Ahmadinejad praised "the art of martyrdom" and emphasized its importance as a value and as a legitimate means to accomplish political goals: "We want art that is on the offensive. Art on the offensive exalts and defends the noble principles, and attacks principles that are corrupt, vulgar, ungodly, and inhuman. Art reaches perfection when it portrays the best life and best death. After all, art tells you how to live. That is the essence of art. Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity. Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security. They undermine the foundation of our eternity..."[14]

Furthermore, IRIB, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, has recently aired several programs praising shehadat, including children's cartoons. TO VIEW THESE CLIPS:

Clip No. 917: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/917

Clip No. 908: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/908

Clip No. 907: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/907

Clip No. 906: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/906

Clip No. 736: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/736

3. Commitment to the Historic Existential Struggle between Islam and the West

In advance of Qods (Jerusalem) Day, celebrated on the last Friday of Ramadan, Ahmadinejad participated in a conference on "A World Without Zionism." In his speech, he expressed his world view, which is infused with an immutable belief in the existence of an historic and all-out existential, moral, and cultural struggle between the Islamic world and the West. In the context of this world view, Israel is merely one local and temporary front line of this global conflict. (To read his speech, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1013, October 28, 2005, Iranian President at Tehran Conference: 'Very Soon, This Stain of Disgrace [i.e. Israel] Will Be Purged From the Center of the Islamic World – and This is Attainable'.)

B. Structural Aspects

Iranian commentator Arash Mahdavi revealed the identity of Ahmadinejad's confidential advisor, Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh. Mahdavi stated that Samareh has Revolutionary Guards connections as well as links to Iran's intelligence apparatuses, and is the confidant of Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi. During the term of former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Samareh, who headed the ministry's Placement Office, intimidated the diplomatic staff with his efforts to check the religious credentials and loyalty of those applying to serve in the Iranian missions abroad - whether they were devout enough as Muslims and sufficiently loyal to the regime.[15] Mahdavi also wrote about Samareh's reign in the Tehran municipality during Ahmadinejad's term as mayor.

Ahmadinejad's cabinet is made up mostly of a cadre of young officers, members of the interim generation of the Revolution, who grew up in the Revolutionary Guards and in the intelligence organizations of Iran. They are loyal to the fundamentalist interpretation of the Islamic Revolution, and they see themselves as continuing the path of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Ahmadinejad has given key government posts, among them the foreign, intelligence, interior, defense, culture and Islamic guidance ministries, to his associates from the Revolutionary Guards officers, to his friends at the ultra-conservative daily Kayhan, to his associates from the Tehran municipality, and to friends of the conservative Deputy Majlis Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar, who is Samareh's uncle.

It will be noted that these circles are loyal to a senior cleric, and accept his rulings as the highest jurisprudent authority. The cleric is Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi, the religious mentor of the intelligence apparatuses and the Revolutionary Guards.

After failing in August 2005 to achieve a majority to approve the ministerial appointments of four unknown figures from amongst his associates,[16] and after being the target of criticism by Rafsanjani and the reformist press for his poor performance as president, Ahmadinejad threatened the Majlis, saying that if it did not confirm his nominees, the consequences would be borne by the Majlis itself. He threatened that the Iranian people would have its say: "The people must show its support for the government against the power and wealth of the mafia residing in the Majlis." He also said, "Insulting the president is tantamount to a crime."[17]

One of Rafsanjani's first steps when the Expediency Council received its extended powers was to bring the outgoing president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami - identified with the reform-seekers - back to the political arena, and to appoint him senior advisor to the council.[18] Indeed, both Rafsanjani and Khatami - along with Iran's Foreign Ministry - have moderated aggressive statements by Ahmadinejad regarding two key issues in the area of Iran's foreign relations: Iran's nuclear dossier, and its attitude towards Israel.[19]

Indeed, these two issues can best serve to delineate the differences between the fundamentalist militaristic conservatives and the relatively pragmatic conservatives, as follow:

1. Attitude towards Israel

Although the leaders of the regime, both moderate and fundamentalist, are in consensus with regard to the illegitimacy of Israel's existence as well as with regard to the ultimate goal - the establishment of a Muslim Palestinian state in its stead - they are divided as to how Iran should present its policy in this regard.

Members of the fundamentalist militaristic faction, for which Ahmadinejad speaks, do not hesitate to bluntly state Iran's official policy regarding Israel, and since coming to powerhave interpreted this policy actively and belligerently. They publicly call for Islam to annihilate Israel, in the context of a broader world view that reflects the all-out historic existential, moral, and cultural struggle between the Islamic world and the West. In this struggle, Israel, or Palestine, is merely one front line today.[20]

The relatively pragmatists - those identified with the reformist circles, headed by former Iranian president Khatami, and members of the Iranian Foreign Ministry who acted to implement Khatami's policy and won the support of Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei - are less enthusiastic about Iran's explicit call for the destruction of another sovereign state, aware as they are of the possible damage to Iran in the international arena.[21]

According to them, Israel will be eliminated in a different way: at the hands of the Palestinians and by means of the "democracy" favored by the West. Therefore, they are promoting the proposal that only the original inhabitants of Palestine - Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and of course the generations of Palestinian Muslim refugees - will have the right to vote in any elections about their future. According to this proposal, Israeli citizens, most of whom are Jewish, will not have the right to vote in such elections, because Israel is not a legitimate entity. Thus, Israel will cease to exist, because most votes will be those of Palestinian Muslims. Recently, Iran’s Leader Khamenei, an advocate of this relatively moderate approach, made statements to this effect, setting out the continuation of the struggle against Israel along these lines.[22]

2. The Nuclear Issue

The tension and the gap between the fundamentalist militaristic faction and the relatively pragmatic conservative faction are more acute and visible regarding this issue.

The Iranian leadership, conservatives and reformists alike, is enthusiastic about Iran's nuclear program. Since August 2005, when Iran broke its commitment to the international community to freeze all enrichment-related activities, Iran has been managing a controlled and planned crisis with Europe, the aim of which is to compel Europe and the world to give in and gradually accept Iran's conditions so that it may achieve a nuclear fuel cycle (which enables the development and production of nuclear weapons) with the acceptance of the international community as a fait accompli.

Unlike his predecessors, Ahmadinejad does not fear conflict with Europe and the international community, even at a high price to Iran. His modus operandi is to impose upon the international community unilateral action by Iran, and then force it to agree.

Ahmadinejad has not shown willingness to compromise in a dialogue with Europe. His statements, along with those of other senior Iranian officials, have made it clear that Iran is headed in the direction of conflict. They maintain that Iran is ready to continue the negotiations with Europe that collapsed when it renewed uranium conversion activity at Isfahan last August, but they have stated unequivocally that this is no longer open to negotiation. If Europe refuses Iran's demands for a nuclear fuel cycle, Iran will see itself as having the right to renew actual uranium enrichment activities on its own initiative, as well as to restart operations at the Natanz centrifuge factory - because any potential punitive measures against Iran will harm Europe and the U.S. themselves more than they will harm Iran.[23]

Thus, Iran recently rejected the European proposal, apparently supported by U.S., according to which Iran could engage in the initial stages of uranium enrichment on Iranian soil but most of the enrichment would be done on Russian soil under supervision by international bodies.[24]

Iran's moderate and evasive brinksmanship policy over the past two years - which was identified with Iran's more pragmatic faction, Iran's Foreign Ministry under President Khatami - had been the object of massive criticism on the part of the fundamentalist conservatives, particularly by the ultra-conservative daily Kayhan. The fundamentalists insisted that Iran's stance must be strict and uncompromising in negotiations with Europe; they doubted the wisdom of the path of nuclear dialogue with Europe, and they even called for extreme unilateral steps.[25]

Now in a position to shape Iran's nuclear policy, Ahmadinejad has fired about 40 ambassadors in what is perceived as a purge of the ranks of the reform-minded Foreign Ministry.[26] This step by Ahmadinejad, particularly in Iran's key missions in Europe and Asia, is perceived as a challenge to the expansion of the powers of Rafsanjani and the Expediency Council, and, consequently, a criticism of the policy of Khamenei himself - who is the final arbiter in the matter of Iran's nuclear policy.[27]

A report by the London daily Al-Hayat on Ahmadinejad's meeting with the ambassadors prior to their firing stated that Ahmadinejad said that he did not trust the Europeans, and that the Paris Agreement signed in November 2004 between Iran and Europe was "of the imperialistic kind." He maintained that the Europeans had to accept Iran's stance - and if it did not, "we will know how to deal with them."

According to the report, the ambassadors argued: "The European Union does not want problems with Iran. It respects its right to obtain modern nuclear technology, and the Paris Agreement aspires to gradually build confidence [between the sides]. Ahmadinejad rejected these claims, and said that Europe was trying to teach Iran a lesson based on the issue of human rights 'while they themselves do not respect these rights.'"[28]

Recent Developments

Khatami: The Extremists Aspire to Imitate Bin-Laden and Compete with the Taliban

In addition to the persistent criticism against Ahmadinejad in recent weeks that focused on political and economic issues, there has also been ideological criticism. At the forefront of the criticism is former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. According to the London daily Al-Hayat, Khatami said that Iran's extremists aspired "to imitate bin Laden" and were "giving the best justification for enemies to attack Islam and Iran." He added that the extremists thought that "allegiance to democracy, freedom, and progress were harming the reputation of the revolutionary country in the Islamic world [Iran]" and added, "They are competing with the Taliban in calling for violence and in carrying out extremist crimes that are counter to the religion..."[29]

Iranian Leader Khamenei, on his part, is trying to prevent the media from exposing this struggle. In an attempt to calm matters, he took up a position next to Ahmadinejad, praising him and his functioning, requesting that none criticize him, and calling for the support of all the political forces in the government. Khamenei pointed out that Iran is now in a sensitive stage, and called for putting aside political rivalries - and indeed, Khatami’s comments were not subsequently reported in the Iranian press.[30]

In our assessment, however, these measures are not sufficient to prevent the continuation of the internal struggle in the upper echelons of the Iranian regime. Indeed, every day there are new reports reflecting the tip of the iceberg. The reformist paper Sharq reported on November 15 that Majlis members denied that there was any plan to impeach Ahmadinejad, while the Iranian www.roozonline.com reported today, November 16, that "sources close to the Ahmadinejad speak of the existence of a secret group to overthrow the president."[31]

[*]A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project.

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 229, "Iran's ‘Second Islamic Revolution’: Fulfilled by Election of Conservative President," June 28, 2005: Iran's ‘Second Islamic Revolution’: Fulfilled by Election of Conservative President.

[2] Sharq (Iran), November 15, 2005; IRNA, November 15, 2005.

[3] IRNA, October 5, 2005. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 226, "The Upcoming Presidential Elections in Iran (Part II)," June 16, 2005: http://www.memri.org/legacy/report/1395.

[4] In effect, this idea was raised eight years ago during the term of President Khatami, and only now, immediately after Ahmadinejad's cabinet appointments, has Iranian Leader Khamenei decided to implement it. See criticism of the timing in giving powers to the council, and the doubts raised regarding the qualifications of Expediency Council members, in the conservative weekly Parto-e Sokhan, November 2, 2005.

[5] An examination of Khamenei's administration in this and previous affairs shows that he is in effect acting like a shah, trying to maneuver between political power groups in the region while his own supervisory status is higher than theirs. Although with its establishment the Islamic Revolution abolished the 2,500-year-old monarchy headed by the shah, an analysis of Khamenei's administrative methods in recent years shows that he is continuing the tradition of running Iran by balancing internal powers and intervention only in times of crisis.

[6] For more on Rafsanjani's views, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 226, "The Upcoming Presidential Elections in Iran (Part II)," June 16, 2005: http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1395.

[7] Rafsanjani agreed to accept additional powers only if the powers were given to the Council of Experts itself, and he would use them only in his capacity as council head. According to a report from a Tehran source, published on the Gulf 2000 forum under the name of forum director Gary Sick, November 14, 2005.

[8] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 384, "Iranian Dissident to Khamenei: 'You Are an Evil Ruler,'" May 26, 2002: Iranian Dissident to Khamenei: 'You Are An Evil Ruler'.

[9] See article by Mehdi Halaji and Mohsen Sazegara, Washington Institute Policy Watch No. 1022, August 11, 2005.

[10] An example of the possible weakening of Khamenei;s authority can be seen in the clash that broke out recently between a number of Qom ayatollahs and Khamenei, about the decision of when the holiday of Id Al-Fitr - whose date is determined by the position of the moon - was supposed to begin. This conflict was fanned by Khamenei's supporter, Hossein Shari'at-Madari, editor of the ultra-conservative daily Kayhan. Most of the ayatollahs of Qom, whom Khamenei joined, ruled that the holiday began on Friday, while three ayatollahs - Behjat, Fazel Lancrani and Yousef Sanei, ruled that it would begin on Thursday. Shari'at-Madari published an editorial stating that Khamenei had the prerogative of ruling in this case, and not the Qom ayatollahs as had always been the case. After members of the Qom Hizbullah organization rioted and interfered with the ayatollahs celebrating Id Al-Fitr on Thursday, the organizers of the riots were arrested and thousands of pamphlets by Shari'at-Madari condemning those ayatollahs were found in their homes. Shari'at-Madari was forced to publish a letter of apology, following protests by a number of ayatollahs in Qom against his interfering in their affairs. See Kayhan (Iran), November 5, 2005 http://www.kayhannews.ir/840814/2.htm#other204 ; Kayhan, November 8, 2005, http://www.kayhannews.ir/840817/2.htm ; and Jonhouri-e Eslami (Iran), November 9, 2005, http://jomhourieslami.com/1384/13840818/index.html.

[11] See for example Ahmadinejad's statements that "the people want to return to the values of the Revolution." Sharq (Iran), November 15, 2005.

[12] Sharq (Iran), November 1, 2005; November 6, 2005; November 9, 2005; November 12, 2005; November 13, 2005; Kayhan (Iran), November 10, 2005; http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/business/story/2005/11/051113_ra-iran-banks.shtml

[13] See for example statements in Kayhan (Iran), November 10, 2005, November 11, 2005; Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), November 15, 2005.

[14] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 945, "Iran's New President Glorifies Martyrdom," July 29, 2005.

Iran's New President Glorifies Martyrdom.

[15] http://roozonline.com/11english/011447.shtml. Mahdavi reported that Samareh, got his post in the Foreign Ministry thanks to his uncle, conservative Deputy Majlis Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar. Mahdavi told of the days-long investigations in the basement of the Iranian Foreign Ministry in which Samareh personally took part. In addition, Samareh also guided and trained the diplomatic staff. One of the courses he taught was "The Psychology of Infidels." According to Samareh, the way to identify a devout Muslim was by his trousers, his shoes, and his smile. For example, if the diplomat's trousers were perfectly creased, betrays his preference for royalty and privilege and a weakness to pro-Western intelligence agents, and can be a sign that the person is not dedicated to prayers. If his shoes did not have laces and the counters were broken down, it was a sign that he was used to taking them off quickly at the mosque entrance - "but he who wears polished, fashionable and laced shoes, clearly does not take them off" and thus is not a devout Muslim. In addition, smiling at strangers is a Western idea and speaks of a person who wishes to win the heart of the other.

[16] The ministries were oil, education, social welfare, and cooperatives. Although the Seventh Majlis has a conservative majority and the biggest faction in it, the Coalition of Iran's Developers (Abadgoran) supports Ahmadinejad, it does not rubber-stamp Ahmadinejad's decisions. The Majlis has conservative representatives from the old school, who are rivals of the militant faction - the Coalition of Iran's Developers - and who do not support Ahmadinejad's policies. When he took office, Ahmadinejad declared his intentions of fighting the corruption in the Majlis and in the government ministries. The Majlis rejected his nominees, claiming that they lacking the required administrative, political, and professional experience. The rejected candidates were eventually appointed by Ahmadinejad to other top posts that did not require Majlis approval. Of the list of candidates presented a second time by Ahmadinejad for Majlis approval, only three candidates were approved. The post of oil minister is still open.

[17] Kayhan (Iran), November 10, 2005; Sharq (Iran), November 10, 2005. See also http://roozonline.com/11english/011549.shtml.

[18] Also Hassan Rohani, who during Khatami's presidency was in charge of Iran's nuclear dossier.

[19] Rafsanjani was forced to say during Friday prayers in Ramadan that Iran had nothing against the Jews, only against Israel. Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), October 29, 2005. Khatami, who had quarreled with Ahmadinejad even before the latter became president, stated that this kind of declarations were not helpful to Iran and to its interests in the international arena. Sharq (Iran), October 31, 2005.

[20] See quotes from Ahmadinejad's speech at the "World Without Zionism" conference: "In his battle against the World of Arrogance, our dear Imam [Khomeini] set the regime occupying Qods [Jerusalem] as the target of his fight. I do not doubt that the new wave [of suicide operations] which has begun in our dear Palestine... is a wave which has spread all over the Islamic world. Very soon, this stain of disgrace [i.e. Israel] will be purged from the center of the Islamic world - and this is attainable." See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1013, "Iranian President at Tehran Conference: 'Very Soon, This Stain of Disgrace [i.e. Israel] Will Be Purged From the Center of the Islamic World - and This is Attainable'" Iranian President at Tehran Conference: 'Very Soon, This Stain of Disgrace [i.e. Israel] Will Be Purged From the Center of the Islamic World – and This is Attainable'.

See also Ahmadinejad's statement that "no one in the Islamic world has the right to officially recognize Israel." Sharq (Iran), October 31, 2005.

[21] In the framework of the détente policy of President Khatami, including also the initiative of the "Dialogue Between Civilizations" and "Coalition for Peace."

[22] See statements by Khamenei, Kayhan (Iran), Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), November 5, 2005. Similarly, Iranian Foreign Minister Mamuchehr Mottaki said that Iran would soon submit this draft resolution to the U.N. and act to promote it.

[23] See report in Sharq (Iran), November 12, 2005.

[24] Sharq (Iran), November 14, 2005. It should be noted that the U.S. has denied its agreement to this proposal, and that both Iran and Russia later denied that any proposal of the kind even existed.

[25] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 181, "The Internal Debate in Iran: How to Respond to Western Pressure Regarding Its Nuclear Program," June 17, 2004.

The Internal Debate in Iran: How to Respond to Western Pressure Regarding Its Nuclear Program.

[26] On the series of firings in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, see Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 2, 2005; Sharq (Iran), November 5, 2005.

[27] Also on the subject or relations with Egypt, Rafsanjani stated, in contrast to Ahmadinejad's position, that Iran's level of relations with Egypt was not sufficient and it should be upgraded. Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), November 2, 2005. It should be noted that 'Ali Larijani, in charge of Iran's nuclear dossier, who is known to be an associate of Khamenei, published a particularly moderate statement regarding Tehran's agreement to an immediate renewal of talks with Europe with no conditions - ignoring Ahmadinejad's demands regarding the non-inclusion of uranium conversion at the Isfahan plant as a condition for renewing talks.

[28] Al-Hayat (London), November 5, 2005.

[29] Al-Hayat (London), November 15, 2005.

[30] Kayhan (Iran), Sharq (Iran), November 15, 2005.

[31] Sharq (Iran), November 15, 2005; http://roozonline.com/11english/011770.shtml, November 16, 2005.