London – Several senior Iranian government and parliament officials were met with a hostile reception by demonstrators during Tehran’s annual “Quds Day” rallies.
President Hassan Rouhani was forced to leave the scene after the protesters chanted angry slogans that compared him to impeached former President Abolhassan Banisadr.
The anger stems from Rouhani’s criticism of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that it was managing a government that owns weapons and the media against a government that does not have arms. He made his statement in reference to the Guards’ role in the economy and in obstructing government plans to encourage investment.
This was the first time that Rouhani acknowledged the existence of a government parallel to his own, amid reports of deep disputes in Iran over the foreign and economic policies between the current administration and the Revolutionary Guards, supreme leader and his agencies.
Iranian media outlets aired recordings of the angry chants that were directed against Rouhani, his First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and parliament Speaker Ali Motahari. Jahangiri was described as a “conceder” and Motahari’s deputy was called a “hypocrite.”
The developments come less than ten days after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threatened Rouhani with impeachment like Banisadr. He also warned of the division of Iranians due to the political tensions.
Labor Minister Ali Rabiei condemned the anti-Rouhani campaign, saying via his Twitter account that the stances against the president have been planned.
Rouhani’s aide on women’s affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi interpreted the tensions as being part of an Israeli plot to “break the unity of Muslims.” She stressed that the development will not harm the Iranian support for Rouhani.
Banisadr was the first president of Iran after the 1979 revolution. He was impeached in June 1981 at Khomeini’s orders after parliament withdrew confidence from him. The no-confidence motion stemmed from a dispute with Khomeini over his objection to the continuation of the Iranian-Iraqi war.