Iran's ideological camp has launched a new wave of accusations against Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, who heads the country's pragmatic camp, following his August 20, 2016 statements at an education conference praising Japan's and Germany's strong economies. He said that these two countries had succeeded in reviving their economies by investing in scientific innovation instead of in their militaries, and expressed hope that Iranian President Hassan Rohani would do the same in a second presidential term.
In response, mouthpieces of the ideological camp accused Rafsanjani of attempting to weaken Iran militarily, arguing that his statements invite Iran's enemies to attack it and adding that this path will ensure that Iran loses its independence and returns to being subordinate to the U.S.
On September 5, 2016, Rafsanjani's office issued a furious rebuttal, arguing that his statements had been twisted and taken out of context as part of an "organized plot" by "a certain stream," in order, inter alia, to harm Rohani's chances of reelection. It added that the ban on a military buildup in Germany and Japan was an historical fact, and not a personal statement by Rafsanjani, and that had presented the two countries as examples of nations that had successfully relied on their knowledge and used their military budgets to establish strong industries that can confront foreign countries.
The following are September 18 statements by Khamenei criticizing Rafsanjani following the latter's rebuttal, and a September 4 editorial in Kayhan prior to Rafsanjani's rebuttal.
Khamenei Attacks Rafsanjani
Despite Rafsanjani's vehement rebuttal, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei criticized Rafsanjani for his comments. In a September 18, 2016 speech to officers of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Khamenei, while not mentioning Rafsanjani by name, referred to him as an unwise man whose statements are wrong. He further said that he was distorting the principles of the Revolution and seeking to eradicate its achievements, that he wants to make Iran again subordinate to a Western world order, and wants to adopt Western ways of life on the pretext of the need to end Iran's political isolation and bring it into the international community. Khamenei said:
"Recently, some have opined that dismantling military organizations has been the reason for progress in some countries. It is very difficult to believe that those to whom these statements have been attributed have actually said such things. But if such statements have really been made, they are definitely wrong.
"The countries which have been said to have closed down their military organizations did not do so voluntarily. The reason why their military organizations have been closed is that they were destroyed in world wars and they were not allowed to have military organizations... No wise person puts his defensive force aside. So, we should strengthen the defensive power of the country on a daily basis...
"As well as the wrong statements that are made about the defensive power of the country, there are also some wrong notions and distortions about some revolutionary concepts. Such notions and distortions are even more dangerous than those wrong statements.'
"Rejecting the term 'independence' and comparing it to isolation [a term used by Rafsanjani and Rohani to argue that their policy would end Iran's political isolation] is considered a counterfeiting [of revolutionary values].
"The purpose of rejecting independence is following the systems that domineering powers have designed. Unfortunately, some people are repeating this notion whether knowingly or unknowingly. 'Independence, culture, and beliefs' should be the ingredients [comprising] the nation's identity. 'Why should we abandon our true identity and follow wrong and ridiculous [in Persian the word is 'disgraceful' - MEMRI] Western methods?'
Kayhan Attacks Rafsanjani
One example of the ideological camp's fierce attack on Rafsanjani was Kayhan's September 4, 2016 editorial, penned by the daily's editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari, who is close to Khamenei. Shariatmadari wrote that Rafsanjani had called banning Iran from having an army, and gave a series of arguments in support of Iran's need for one both within Iran and outside it, and stressed the need for continuing to develop its missile program. He also said that Rafsanjani knew that his plan was sure to make Iran "a slave of America" once more, and that he was secretly motivated to make statements aimed at harming Iran's independence, honor, and security:
"In [his] new statement, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani said things that you would not expect from the Rafsanjani of the early Revolution [when he was an anti-West revolutionary], but that are unsurprising [coming] from the Rafsanjani of post-2009 [that is, after the public protests following the fraudulent presidential election when he was critical of the regime and called for reconciliation with the West]. Rafsanjani said: 'If today you say that Germany and Japan have the strongest economies [in the world], it is because after World War II, they were forced to not have an army... A country at war spends a lot of money on its military, and therefore [Japan and Germany's] money was freed up and they used it to develop science and manufacturing, thus building an economy rooted in science - and therefore they are no longer vulnerable. This path was opened to Iran [with its acceptance of the JCPOA], and the administrators - those who are concerned [about Iran] and the teachers - should enter into this atmosphere. I am certain that Rohani's second term [after the 2017 election] will bring us to there.
"'Rafsanjani said something similar previously, and a few months ago he tweeted: 'The world of tomorrow is a world of talks, not of missiles.'
"Whether he knew it, and desired it, or did not know it and did not desire it, Rafsanjani, with his statements, was inviting America and Iran's other official enemies to come and attack it. Regarding his statements, we have to say:
"First, in contrast to Rafsanjani's statement, Japan and Germany spend $41 billion and $36.7 billion annually, respectively, on their armies, and are ranked eighth and ninth, respectively, on the list of countries with the highest military expenditure. Also on this list are, in first to seventh place, America, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, England, India, and France. Therefore, Rafsanjani's statistics about Japan and Germany are unreal and unfounded. These two countries spend more on their armies than most European countries like Italy, Austria, and others do.
"Germany and Japan were forced unwillingly to not maintain independent standing armies. This means that after World War II... they were prohibited from having soldiers and an independent army, and the Allies were in charge of their foreign security. Japan and Germany were completely controlled by the Western bloc, particularly America, whose control [over them] continues to this day. Therefore, it is natural that countries that are under total American control, and obey it, would face no threat from it and its allies.
"Is Rafsanjani prescribing that Iran accept the control and protection of America and its allies? He knows full well that his prescription means reverting to the suffocation, poverty, backwardness, and misery of the era of tyranny [under the Shah] and becoming America's slave.
"Also in the matter of Germany's and Japan's scientific progress, Rafsanjani presented unrealistic and mistaken statistics. The progress of these two countries stems absolutely from ceaseless work and efforts, accurate planning and management, and fighting corruption. Otherwise, why is there no such progress in other nations under America's control?
"In Germany, if a cabinet minister is conducting a domestic visit - not a foreign visit - and has his wife accompany him at government expense, he will be fired. But here [in Iran], those who think like Rafsanjani consider those who embezzle state funds assets to Iran [a reference to recent corruption scandals in the country, particularly revelations of massive salaries for bank administrators approved by the Rohani government].
"In Norway, the party that bribed Iranians as part of the Statoil deal was tried and punished, but the Iranian side, which received millions of dollars in bribes, and did 10 times more damage to Iran, is depicted as Robin Hood. Germany and Japan rely on the 'can-do' principle, but one member of Rohani's cabinet thinks that [the height of] Iran's manufacturing capability is producing soup, while another thinks we need to bring in executives from abroad, and so on.
"A few months after the Islamic Revolution [in 1979], some political streams took off their masks and openly sided with the enemy. They called for dismantling [Iran's] army, becoming so insistent that some members of the interim government suggested returning F-14 jets previously purchased from America, and so on. This insistence was strongly resisted by the Imam Khomeini and his comrades. Some time later, the Iraqi army attacked Iran, with explicit American support, exposing what had been behind these insistent calls.
"Or, before America's failed surprise in Tabas [i.e. the failed April 1980 hostage rescue attempt], the anti-aircraft systems deployed around Manzariyeh base in Qom were collected, on the pretext that they were expensive and unnecessary. But days later, it became apparent that following the attack on the U.S. Embassy, the Americans wanted to free the hostages, first taking them to Manzariyeh base, and then extracting them from Iran.
"America and its allies constantly threaten to carry out a military attack [on Iran], and, as they themselves have acknowledged, it is they who created ISIS to fight Iran. Furthermore, they express great fear regarding the mighty presence of Iran and its military advisors in the region. We need to ask why Rafsanjani insists on constantly saying that we must end Iran's missile program and ban Iran from maintaining an army. Had Hashemi [Rafsanjani] said this only once, this would have necessitated an explanation from him as to why he is deliberately inviting the enemy to attack Iran militarily - but we could have assumed it was a mistake and looked the other way. But when the mistake recurs, then it is a 'guiding line,' and because it involves life, money, and the public's honor, as well as Iran's independence and [very] existence, Rafsanjani must explain to the nation what is behind his insistence. This explanation is vital because Rafsanjani's statements are not in line with logic, thought, and the religion, and are even contrary to them.
"We must ask Rafsanjani whether he believes that the hostility America and its allies show Iran is over. The answer will probably be negative, because not only has this hostility not decreased since the early years of the Revolution, but it has grown even stronger and intensified, to the point where in addition to America, its other Western allies and [even] small and large regimes in the region that obey America have openly entered the arena against Iran. Even the incompetent Al-Saud [regime in Saudi Arabia] has wagged its braggart tongue. America does not hide the fact that it created takfiri terrorist elements in order to destabilize Iranian security, and there are dozens more examples that make this list longer. Is Rafsanjani unaware of this obvious reality?! He certainly is aware of it. So we must ask him why he wants to disarm Iran.
"Just imagine if Iran did not have today's effective armed forces, and that, as Rafsanjani wishes, it had backed down from its ballistic missiles. Don't you think that in that situation, not only America, but other small incapable countries in the region whose hearts are hurting as a result of [Iran's] Islamic Revolution, would hesitate to attack Iran? Or what about ISIS, which has long dreamt of entering Iran and carrying out crimes there as it did in Iraq and Syria? Will it waste a single moment before carrying out its horrid crimes? If the answer to these questions is no, and if Iran is disarmed, it will become easy prey for its enemies, great and small. Can we doubt that Rafsanjani's statements are like an invitation to ISIS?
"In God's words, 'The infidels love [a situation in which] you abandon your arms so that suddenly you are attacked.' Rafsanjani is considered a cleric, so he would definitely know God's warning. Or, Surat Anfal 60, which says: 'And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy.'
"This verse, which adorns the IRGC symbol, stresses the empowerment of military might, when terrifying the enemy is mentioned as one of the goals of building military capability. We must ask: Doesn't Rafsanjani know this divine order?! Of course he does.
"And so, in his recent statement, Rafsanjani said that 'this path is open to Iran.' This causes amazement, because he said this after his talk of banning the military. Rafsanjani stressed also: 'I am sure that the second term of the Rohani government will get us there.'
"Referring to some of the recent steps by the [Rohani] government, such as agreeing with the FATF [Financial Action Task Force], which will surely weaken the regime, we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to such statements and to the possible origin of such talk."
 Isna.ir, September 15, 2016.
 English.khamenei.ir, September 18, 2016.
 See also MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1269, Khamenei Glorifies IRGC But Does Not Rule Out Adopting Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards, Which Harms IRGC, Regarded In The West As A Terror Organization, September 26, 2016.
 Kayhan (Iran), September 4, 2016.