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Iran: Qom’s Senior Clerics Pushing for Compromise | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq al-Awsat- Amid pressures and nonstop consultations behind the scenes between senior officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran, at the head of them Assembly of Experts Chairman Hashemi-Rafsanjani, and the sources of emulation and ayatollahs in Qom, Iran’s Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed to the Guardian Council’s request to extend the period for examining the election-related complaints for five more days.

This development came as informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the senior sources of emulation in Qom were exerting pressures on the authorities in Tehran to search for a compromise to the current political crisis shaking Iran. They said a delegation from the Guardian Council’s members visited the religious leaders and ayatollahs in Qom to get their public support for the legitimacy of the election and the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term. But an Iranian source told Asharq Al-Awsat: “But praise be to God, the sources of emulation did not support the demands” of the Guardian Council and added that many of the sources of emulation in Qom formed a “neutral” voice during this crisis and because of their tendency to remain “above politics” can play an important role during the crisis shaking Iran.

An Iranian source talked about reports to the effect that around 50 of the sources of emulation, ayatollahs, and clerics in Qom sent messages to Ayatollah Khamenei urging him to look into the complaints of the reformists and examine the reported violations. An Iranian source from the reform movement explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that members of the Guardian Council, the body supervising the election, visited the Shiite seminary in Qom and met the sources of emulation there and that Great Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani, one of the most important sources of emulation in the seminary, was among those they met. The source, which it cannot be identified, said Ayatollah Golpaygani urged the Guardian Council “to be above politics and exercise its role as a neutral arbiter between the political parties and not lean toward one party at the expense of the other.” It added that Ayatollah Golpaygani’s stand should be pondered because of his great influence on the Guardian Council whose chairman he was during the first years after the revolution. The source then went on to say: “Compared to Ayatollah Jannati, the Guardian Council’s present chairman, Golpaygani is an expert jurisprudent, has a history in the revolution, and is respected.” It added that the Guardian Council came under heavy pressure from the reformists and the ayatollahs because it acted as a supporter of Ahmadinejad. It noted that the sources of emulation in Qom stressed to the Council’s members that “it is a judicial body and not apolitical one and the political nature of its action is damaging for it.”

The Iranian source pointed out that the senior religious leaders in Qom and its seminary prefer to be “above the political tendencies” and they include those with strong influence in Qom and its seminary who have a voice in the decision-making centers in Tehran due to their religious status such as Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi, Ayatollah Vahidi, and Ayatollah Zanjani. Ayatollahs Amini and Javadi-Amoli took a neutral stand during the present crisis and called for listening to the voice of the Iranian street and reformists and examining the violations and complaints neutrally.

But there are among all these religious leaders and ayatollahs who are neutral and do not have political interests or inclinations several other religious leaders and ayatollahs in Qom who lean toward one trend at the expense of the other. These include Ayatollah Hoseyn Nouri Hamedani and Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi both of whom support President Ahmadinejad while Ayatollah Mousavi Ardabili and Ayatollah Sani’i lean toward the reformists.

The announcement by Mir Hossein Mousavi’s office that he would publish soon a full report on the “rigging and violations” during the 12 June election came after the Guardian Council announced yesterday there would be no new presidential election. The Iranian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “Guardian Council’s decision was expected in light of Khomeini’s announcement last Friday. He recognized the legitimacy of the election and Ahmadinejad and therefore the Guardian Council could not make another decision contradicting what the leader had said. Mousavi and Karrubi did not take part in the Council’s session because they knew participation was useless.” The source stressed that the reform movement would continue “its call to make the election null and void” adding that the reformists would not call for “Ahmadinejad’s resignation” because he is not a president in the first place to resign. It pointed out that Mousavi, Khatami, and Karrubi agreed to continue to exert pressure and believe Ahmadinejad cannot continue as president of Iran under this pressure. It added: “We have popularity in the street. The most important result of this election is that it showed the reform trend’s popularity in the Iranian street. The leader is insisting on Ahmadinejad as president but the people in the street refuse. The people are chanting God is great at night as a sign of the rejection of the election. The authorities will of course continue to target the demonstrators and universities but this cannot continue. Ahmadinejad’s government cannot continue under these conditions. I am optimistic but the road is long. The change I am talking about will not happen in days or weeks.” It added: “In my opinion, holding the election again is the solution: If Ahmadinejad wins, then we the reformists will accept the result. If Mousavi wins, then the conservatives have to accept it.” When asked about the possibility of an understanding between Iran’s supreme guide and Hashemi-Rafsanjani regarding the current crisis, the Iranian source replied: “One of the last things the leader said in his Friday speech was Ahmadinejad is closer to me than Hashemi-Rafsanjani and this is bad.”