Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s outrageous speech at the United Nations, in which he blamed the US government for staging the September 11 attacks against itself, was not aimed at an American audience. Ahmadinejad is a populist, and wants to whip up loyalty to himself among a dwindling stratum of true believers in Iran. The speech was shown on Iranian television, and he was almost certainly actually playing to the audience back home. He wanted to be on television on the world stage, poking America in the eye.
Ahmadinejad deliberately missed a chance to improve relations with the US. One of the suspects in Wednesday’s bombing in the largely Kurdish city of Mahabad is Ansar al-Islam, or radical Sunnis of the al-Qaeda type. (Kurdish separatist movements don’t typically target Kurdish civilians, as this bombing did). Iran’s president could have taken advantage of that tragedy to declare solidarity with the US in fighting radical Sunnism. He was more wedded to getting some guffaws in the workplaces of Iran.
He has good reason to want to take the focus off himself. He is involved in a conflict with the parliament (Majles) over who has more power, and some in parliament are firing back (see below).
The USG Open Source Center translated an article on MP Ali Motahhari’s attack on Ahmadinejad as wanting to weaken the separation of powers and move to a presidential dictatorship. The translation has been slightly revised, below, with the Persian word for parliament, Majles, removed in favor of the English term, and the spelling of Ahmadinejad’s name standardized.
“Tehran MP Rejects President’s Remarks on Parliament, Warns Against ‘Dictatorship’
Unattributed report from the “Politics” column: ” Ali Motahhari: If Parliament Is Not at Helm of Affairs, Dictatorship Will Be Established”
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
As a reaction to recent remarks by the president, who has said that the Parliament is not at the helm of affairs, a Tehran M P[member of Parliament] regards the guardianship of the supreme jurisconsult and the Parliament as two factors for preventing autocracy. He said: “The late Imam Khomeyni considered that a tendency toward individualism creates autocracy and dictatorship and a branch called the Parliament should exist so that the tendency toward autocracy does not increase in the government.”
In his interview with a Mehr (News Agency) journalist, Tehran MP Ali Mottahari explained the president’s recent remarks, indicating that the period of the orders by the revolution leader (Ayatollah Khomeyni), who stated that the Parliament is at the helm of all affairs, has passed. This MP added: “Ahmadinejad’s argument indicating that the Parliament is not at the helm of all affairs is not right. The late imam’s (Khomeyni’s) order that the Parliament is at the helm of all affairs was not based on the reasoning that the prime minister was elected by the Parliament, and now that the president is elected through the people’s direct votes the Parliament has no power any longer.
Parliament Still Has Power To Dismiss President
Mottahari added: “The Parliament is at the helm of all affairs now as well, and has power because the authority to dismiss the president is with the Parliament. It can dismiss the president from power by questioning him, through impeachment, or by making a decision on his political non-qualification. Therefore, the Parliament is more powerful and is at the helm of all affairs.” …
He spoke about the needs that caused His Eminence the late Imam Khomeyni to say that the Parliament is at the helm of all affairs, adding: “The late Imam Khomeyni considered that power always creates corruption, a tendency toward individualism creates autocracy and dictatorship, and an organization called the Parliament should exist versus the cabinet in order to control power so that tendency toward autocracy does not increase in the cabinet.”
Guardianship of Supreme Jurisconsult, Parliament Are Two Main Obstacles for Autocracy
He stressed: “The late imam considered that the Parliament should always be powerful in order to be able to prevent autocracy, disobedience, and power. In the Islamic Republic, there are two bodies that prevent autocracy; the first is the guardianship of supreme jurisconsult, and the second is the Parliament. If these two organizations are weakened, the path for the autocracy and dictatorship of the cabinet will be opened.”
Eighth Parliament Is Very Gentle Toward President
The Tehran MP also spoke about the kind of reaction the Parliament will show against these remarks by the president, saying: “The Eighth Parliament is a gentle one and, of course, it gentleness goes too far.” He believes: “Perhaps, sometimes inappropriate understanding regarding unity in the Parliament and the MPs’ understanding that they should not do anything that prevents the unity of (government) branches in the country is the reason. However, questioning the president when he says he will not implement a bill, like the foreign currency facilities bill for the Tehran and megacities metro, is necessary and there is no room for being silent.”
Parliament’s Silence Means Unfaithfulness to Nation’s Rights
Mottahari added: “This is the place to question the president. He should come and provide explanations for not implementing this bill. The MPs may be satisfied. However, the Parliament cannot be silent against the cabinet avoiding the law, because this is unfaithfulness to the nation’s rights and is not related to unity or conflict at all. This is an issue related to the country’s interests and causes an improvement in affairs.” He added: “Even if we suppose that the country is in a special situation because of the sanctions and the chance military attack, these issues are not connected with each other. Everybody should carry out their duties. The Parliament should carry out its duties, too, and issues should not be mixed with each other.”
Further on, he said: “These remarks (by Ahmadinejad) are against unity among the (government) branches in the country. The need for making these remarks in the present situation by Ahmadinejad is questionable. It is not clear why these remarks have been made.”
(Description of Source: Mashhad Qods Online in Persian — website of conservative Mashhad daily published by the Qods Cultural Foundation of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (Astan-e Qods-e Razavi); URL: http://www.qudsdaily.com) ”