News : Infighting

Ahmadinejad Continues His Fight Against the Larijani Brothers

 by Jazeh Miller

In three separate and very different cases the Larijani brothers face accusations of illegal activity and corruption. These cases were often highlighted in public and in the media, in a move believed to be led in part by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The brothers have political leverage, but the attacks have affected the family’s public image.

Recently, Sadegh Larijani alleged that Ahmadinejad attempted to implicate his daughter in an espionage plot. Iranian Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani said in an address to university students, that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had asked Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, for information regarding rumors of espionage charges against Larijani’s daughter Zahra. Shamkhani apparently told Ahmadinejad there was no truth to the rumors, but the former president said, “then you don’t know. Zahra Larijani has been arrested and we even know her place of detention.”

Amad News reported in September, “Zahra Ardeshir Larijani, daughter of Sadegh Amoli Larijani, has been accused of espionage for the West and a ‘top secret dossier’ has been filed for her.” On October 1, the news site also claimed, “After Zahra Larijani’s espionage for the British Embassy in Iran was discovered, one of the Supreme Leader’s aides, Vahid Haghanian, directly ordered the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence apparatus to arrest her.”

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi stepped in after the announcement, and denied that any member of the Larijani family was under arrest.

Ahmadinejad has had a long and ongoing feud with the influential Larijani brothers, who include Judiciary Chief Sadegh, Speaker of Parliament Ali, Mohammad Javad, who heads the judiciary’s human rights council, and two other brothers.

Sadegh Larijani retaliated, accusing Ahmadinejad of being a “seditionist” after Ahmadinejad voiced support for some of his closest allies — Hamid Reza Baghaei, who was Ahmadinejad’s Vice President for Executive Affairs, his one-time press advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr, and his former financial affairs director, Habibollah Joz-e Khorasani, after they sought sanctuary in holy shrine near Tehran to escape appearing in court, and as a protest against being under investigation in the first place, last November.

Larijani also pointed out that in the last months of his presidency, on February 3, 2013, Ahmadinejad presented a video to the Iranian parliament that appeared to show Fazel Larijani procuring bribes. The chief of judiciary quoted the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who called Ahmadinejad’s action “illegal, immoral and against sharia”.

In a video interview on November 24, Ahmadinejad said in that the Iranian judiciary was responsible for the death of Sattar Beheshti, the blogger who died in prison four days after he was arrested in 2012, reportedly after suffering torture. Ahmadinejad said that at the time, he got into a shouting match with Larijani over Beheshti’s death. Larijani refuted this. “He does not dare to shout at me,” Larijani told the student group. He also implicitly accused Ahmadinejad of supporting Babak Zanjani, the billionaire sanctions-breaker who is in jail and has been sentenced to death.

In the case that concerns Mohammad Javad Larijani, he is accused by farmers in Varamin, near Tehran, of land grab and corrupt deals. This, along with the rumors about Zahra Ardeshir Larijani, and the 2012 video that Ahmadinejad presented to the parliament to prove that Mohammad Javad was procuring bribes, has garnered extremely negative public response. The more these cases are discussed in public, the worse they affect the political climate surrounding the Larijani brothers. In fact,
following Sadegh Larijani’s speech, a group of students from Sharif University staged a protest calling for him to be dismissed.

Sadegh Larijani’s tries, as best as he can, to avoid ugly public battles. It appears that Sadegh Larijani is practicing restraint for the moment, part of his overall strategy to rally his resources and move forward to a point that has yet to be revealed.