Rafsanjani to Lead Friday Prayers; Rezai Calls for Political Compromise; Montazeri Implies Ahmadinejad’s Presidency Illegitimate

Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will deliver a Friday prayers address in Tehran this week. A behind the scenes backer of the opposition candidate for president Mir Hosain Mousavi, Rafsanjani has kept a low profile since his candidate was declared a loser in the June 12 election. Mousavi and the other reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, say they will attend these Friday prayers ceremonies, whereas they had boycotted those held in recent weeks.

Reformists are said to be planning to flood the prayer hall, which could lead to a confrontation with hard liners. Reformists are continuing to practice nonviolent noncooperation in Iran.

Hard liner and former head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezai, called Monday for compromise among the presidential contenders and their supporters to forestall a collapse of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He pointed out that Iran has some hard bargaining to do with the international community in the coming year [regarding its nuclear enrichment program], and faces a possible strike by Israel, and that only by remaining united can Iranians avoid a catastrophe. English report here.

Some of the wire services have seemed to me to interpret his statement as more liberal than it is. It is true that he addressed his criticisms as much to Ahmadinejad as to opposition leaders Mir Hosain Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and that he appeared to complain about the heavy-handed tactics used by the authorities against the protesters. He said that the authorities must view the discontents manifest after the election in a clear-sighted manner and without illusions. But he also warned of a sinister conspiracy to push the Iranian regime to collapse. In the end did little more than call on the Ahmadinejad government and the opposition leaders to deal with and negotiate a settlement with one another that would allow them to view one another as siblings and safeguard the unity of Iran, thus protecting the nation from outside hostile forces.

Rezai is departing from the party line of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which maintains that no compromise is needed, and which permits violent disruption of peaceful protests. But he isn’t departing very far from it.

The blogosphere is also making far to much of a fatwa or religious ruling by Grand Ayatollah Hosain Ali Montazeri in answer to the questions of reformist theologian Mohsen Kadivar. ( English text here.

It is being alleged that Montazeri is saying that the Iranian regime is illegitimate, which he is not. He is implying that if Ahmadinejad stole the election by foul means, then his presidency is illegitimate. That is just a self-evident conclusion.

Also, it is being alleged that Montazeri is foremost among the grand ayatollahs, which he is not. On the Iranian scene he has been effectively marginalized by the regime. It is well known that he is on the outs with Khamenei, who put him under house arrest for five years in response to his questioning of the Khomeinist doctrine that the clerics must rule. His fatwa is therefore to be expected and will not cause any surprise or make any special waves in Iran. (It may result in a renewal of his house arrest).

For Iran and the rise of a new Middle Class, including activist women see this interview with Yale’s Abbas Amanat, among the foremost Iran experts in the US.

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