Asharq Al-Awsat, London – Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran and head of the Assembly of Experts, delivered a political speech on Friday that represented a clear challenge to Iran’s Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamanei. It elucidated that the reformists in Iran are working with institutions within the regime to find a solution to the Iranian election crisis.
In the speech, Rafsanjani stated that “Iran is going through a crisis” and “we have all lost” and that “any government is illegitimate if the nation is not satisfied with it.” He called for authorities to take measures to remove the doubts among the Iranian public about the disputed election results.
Despite the fact that Rafsanjani did not mention Khamanei by name in his speech and that he focused his criticism towards the Guardian Council, the speech is considered the biggest challenge to the authority of the Supreme Guide who, over the past few weeks, has aimed to close the file of the elections by declaring that the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is legitimate.
Rafsanjani, who was watched by reformists and conservatives as he delivered his speech, expressed his regret as “the Iranian authorities lost the trust of the people after the elections.” He asked, “What must we do in this situation?” Rafsanjani added that he has a solution that he is looking into together with members of the Expediency Discernment Council and Assembly of Experts, the two bodies that he heads.
Rafsanjani stressed that “a large number of knowledgeable people in the country have said that they have doubts” about the results of the elections “and we must take measures to remove these doubts.”
As Rafsanjani delivered his speech the crowds shouted “Mousavi, Mousavi, we support you,” interrupting his Friday sermon for a brief period before Rafsanjani asked for calm. Mir Hossein Mousavi could be seen sitting in the front row.
Losing candidate of the presidential elections Mahdi Karroubi was attacked by the Basij militia on his way to Friday prayer at Tehran University.
An Iranian source close to the reformists told Asharq Al-Awsat that Rafsanjani’s speech “could not have been any more powerful or successful.”
“There was always a shadow of doubt over where he stands. He was determined not to sever ties with Khamanei. However, the speech was clear and he expressed what the Iranian public – and not only the reformists – was feeling,” added the source.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Thursday the appointment of Ali Akbar Salehi to the position of head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation. Salehi served as Iran’s former representative to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the government of reformist former President Mohammad Khatami. He replaces Gholam Reza Aghazadeh who resigned from the position. Salehi, known for his moderation, obtained his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Ahmadinejad also appointed recently his son’s father-in-law Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as Iran’s new first vice president.