Ahmadinejad Mugs for Cameras, Blames USG for 9/11 Attacks

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”
Qods Online
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) ”

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13 Responses

  1. whenever i think of Iran’s government, i can’t help thinking of American city governnment.

    in my hometown, we’re ran by a Mayor & a City Council, with a City Manager serving under them. the City Manager serves as a go-between or point man, or a bottleneck, between upper city government and the people of the city. he serves at the pleasure of the City Council, more or less.

    as i recollect, the true leaders of Iran are a group ran by a ‘Supreme Leader’, who more or less speaks for them and has the final say. they’d correspond to the Mayor and the City Council.

    Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is the City Manager. he carries out their policies and takes the flak, and becomes the mouthpiece of the Council. he gets the press, good or bad.

    in the meantime, the Council–the real power–sits back, aloof, monitoring what’s going on and using their lightning rod to study the responses to their policies and decisions.

  2. Your statement that AN’s outrageous speech at the UN aimed at an domestic audience was promptly confirmed by today’s Friday sermon of Hojatoleslam Sedighi (Mr Boobquake), who boasted that his beloved “president” has sent out the “valiant people’s firm message to the blackmailers and managed to accuse the U.S. regime even of the 9/11 events.” link to peykeiran.com
    Interestingly Sedighi was also adamant that the Revolution is not over…

  3. The PressTV report of Achmadinejad’s remarks seems to indicate that he contrasting doubts about the official story on 9/11 with the speed and certainty the U.S. used 9/11 to launch two wars and boost US geopolitical clout. I suspect that, in his heart, Mr. A does think that 9/11 was probably a nefarious Zionist operation; however, as usual his remarks (and the point he was trying to make) appear to have been distorted for the sake of Iran bashing and to deflect attention from his one legitimate point: that the US response to 9/11 was calculated, disproportionate, and in some ways self-serving, and the world is dealing with the adverse consequences of that response for an unconscionably long time.
    Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, President Ahmadinejad drew attention to the growing number of civilian and military deaths caused by the US-led “war on terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    “It was said that some three thousands people were killed on September 11 for which we are all very saddened. Yet, up until now, in Afghanistan and Iraq hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions wounded and displaced and the conflict is still going on and expanding,” the Iranian president said.

    He went on to raise doubts about the credibility of the US government’s account of the source and nature of the 9/11 attacks indicating that “a very powerful and complex terrorist group, able to successfully cross all layers of the American intelligence and security, carried out the attack.”

    He said despite the cited claim many throughout the world believe that “some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime.”

    The Iranian president said even in the case of the credibility of the US government’s account, it was not a rational move “to launch a classic war through widespread deployment of troops that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people to counter a terrorist group.” link to presstv.ir

  4. A reader writes in

    “My first reaction was that US funded Iranian anti-regime paramilitaries were behind the bombing. It would seem to me unlikely that the Sunni radicals would be operating in a Kurdish area. It could also have been a sloppy Kurdish separatist job.”

    I would just say that Ansar al-Islam, the small Sunni radical group, has drawn a great deal of its membership from Kurds. They had a presence in Iraqi Kurdistan. The modus operandi is that of al-Qaeda or similar groups– targeting civilian gatherings to cause chaos. Kurdish separatist groups have hit Iranian security forces but typically do not blow up Kurdish civilians.

  5. Ansar al-islam is NOT a “sunni” group, neither is al-qaeda. These are not “radical” sunni groups. They have nothing to do with sunnism.

    It phrase “radical sunni group” applied to ansar al-islam or alqaeda makes no sense to a traditional Sunni.

    These are salafi/wahhabi groups who are rejected by Sunnis.

    They are sectarian groups diametrically opposed to Sunnis.

    Sunnis have separate mosques and they have separate mosques anywhere in the Islamic world.

  6. He is a politician and must look strong for his constituancy.

    It may be nice to think that that constituancy is dwindling, but I think his recent use of Persian Nationalist ideology instead of religious ideology in an effort to expand his social base may be successful.

    A large segment of patriotic Iranians support niether the religious idealogues nor the Green Movement.

  7. This is a quote by Obama from an interview given to the BBC, according to this article in the Guardian.
    link to guardian.co.uk

    “Understandably, Israel is very concerned when the president of a country, a large country near them, states that they should be wiped off the face of the earth.”

    Does he know better?
    I think so.
    So what is his agenda?

  8. When Obama states that the “door is open to talks” and then the US delegation walks out during Ahmedinejad’s speech??? And why didn’t the Israelis attend the UN Gen Assembly? Their seats were empty.
    Obama spent some time on Hamas’ “aggressive” postures, yet no mention of the Gaza or the Mavi Marmara massacres. At the same time, the crawl under the picture told a different story. Namely, that the UN Report on the Mavi Marmara had found that Israel had committed grave breaches of international law.
    Ahmedinejad didn’t exactly blame the US Gov for engineering 9-11. He said something like there is a body of thought in the world that believes the US Government was complicit. China Hand has it about right. AND, reading Prof. Cole’s next posting re Rumsfield, Bush and the Supreme War Crime. . .

  9. We now live in a time when the most reliable and informative news on US television is The Daily Show – a self-declared faux news show. And in a time when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes more sense than the US government – not a lot more sense, maybe, but somewhat more. At least Ahmadinejad can see a problem with using this event as an excuse to launch a war against the world that had clearly been planned for a long time and was only awaiting a desperately desired pretext.

  10. RE: “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..”

    Well, that’s an improvement over your last estimation of Ahmadinejad’s standing. ;-)

    Here’s an interview with Kaveh Ehsani, Assistant Professor of International Studies at De Paul University, that lays these conflicts out really clearly:
    link to cfr.org

    (Btw – I really love your blog and *most* of the time I agree with your views.)

  11. The alternative to relying on the interpretations of the news agencies and news reports is to read Ahmadinejad’s speech as an almost primary source. Those who walked out on this speech, which amongst other things reasonably called for reform of the UN to do away with the Security Council veto, are simply pathetic. May be the General Assembly should allow parliamentary debates between leaders.

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