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Iran: The Battle has Only Just Begun - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Anybody who believes – like the New York Times – that Ahmadinejad’s victory in the Iranian elections is “the latest and perhaps final clash in the battle for power and influence that has lasted decades between [Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani” would be mistaken. Rather this battle is just beginning to unfold.

What is happening in Iran today is far more complex than election rigging, and the conflict that is taking place represents cracks in the foundations of the Iranian revolution, and as a result the cries of pain [from this] can be heard all across the world.

Ahmadinejad said that his opponent [Moussavi] had “ran a red light and has gotten a traffic ticket” however it was Hashemi Rafsanjani who had given the green light to challenge the Supreme Leader, enabling the battle to become public. This was not an easy thing to achieve as the Supreme Leader’s word in Iran is an unbreakable fatwa that nobody dare contradict. However demonstrations are ongoing despite the Supreme Leader calling for the Iranian people to accept Ahmadinejad’s election, and warning them against agitation.

We must look at the history of this conflict to realize that the battle between Rafsanjani and Khamenei is not at an end, but is only just beginning. Four years ago Rafsanjani took part in [presidential] elections believing that the Supreme Leader would not exclude him [from power] at the expense of Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani was certain of his [electoral] victory, but the opposite occurred, and the Supreme Leader backed Ahmadinejad despite the fact that Rafsanjani had supported Khamenei in reaching the highest position in the country. Rafsanjani reluctantly accepted the [electoral] results at the time, despite the setback to his reputation and his uncertainty over the integrity of the elections.

Ahmadinejad stood for re-election, and accused Rafsanjani and his family of corruption [during the televised presidential debates]. This was an unusual move since Rafsanjani has been a wild card, both before and after the Islamic revolution. However the Iranian fox [Rafsanjani] discovered a good opportunity to get even with the Supreme Leader.

Rafsanjani noticed that there is genuine public agitation towards the internal situation in Iran, not to mention towards the country’s increasing international isolation; he wanted this volcano to erupt in Ahmadinejad’s face, as well as engulf the Supreme Leader.

In an unprecedented move following the accusations leveled at him and his family by Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani shrewdly sent an open letter to the Supreme Leader calling for him to intervene [in the run-up to elections] and take responsibility for the situation. In the eyes of the public this placed the responsibility on the Supreme Leader. This move succeeded, and following the manipulation of the election results the anger of the Iranians boiled over. Despite the warnings of the Supreme Leader, the Iranians took to the streets, breaking the ban on demonstrations, and even attacking a Basji building in flagrant defiance of the resolutions and warnings of the Wali Al Faqih, who quickly realized that he had fallen into the trap set for him by Rafsanjani. In light of this, the Supreme Leader called for an investigation to be conducted into the election results, which is a considerable turnaround, even if it does seem to be. Therefore what the world witnessed over the past days following the elections [in Iran] is nothing more than the beginning – and not the end – of the battle to openly destroy the foundations of the Iranian [Ahmadinejad] regime.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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