– He claims that in 2008 in a meeting with a number of members of the regime’s Assembly of Experts, with various Guardian Council members also taking part, he had predicted that Ahmadinejad’s election for a second term would lead to unrest. In the 2009 elections he wrote a letter – without any greetings – to Khamenei and warned him of this. Subsequently, on 17 July 2009, in his last Tehran Friday prayer sermon he announced his stance and to this day has not backed down from any of those positions.
– Rafsanjani assesses the regime’s status internally, economically and internationally and sees the solution in the formation of a national pervasive government. His request from Khamenei was to give him a share in the leadership and, through a mutual agreement, bring a president into power that is able to form this pervasive government consisting of all the regime’s factions, and to be an acceptable figure for the West to be able to enter negotiations (conciliation and appeasement with the West) on the nuclear dossier and the sanctions.
– Despite all of Rafsanjani’s efforts, Khamenei has not cooperated with him to this day. In his remarks dating 16 April 2013 while meeting with provincial governors in power during his terms as president, Rafsanjani revealed the following from his recent meeting with Khamenei:
1) Khamenei does not consider the country’s conditions as in crisis (doesn’t accept Rafsanjani’s analysis)
2) He doesn’t trust me anymore. (The other side of the coin of this claim is that “I no longer have any hope or trust in him either.”)
3) The Revolutionary Guards have taken control over the country’s economy and politics and government. (Khamenei intends to bring a figure into power that implements the IRGC’s hegemony in the executive branch)
– After this meeting, Rafsanjani, on 27 April 2013, staged a meeting in the Expediency Council, consisting of a number of journalists, student mullahs, and college students. Six people spoke in the first hour of this session and each stated in a particular manner that the country was in crisis, and the only figure that can save it is Rafsanjani, going on to ask him to register his candidacy.
– In response to these requests, while he presumably confirmed that other than himself no other figure can save the regime from this situation, Rafsanjani said, “I haven’t said that I won’t stand.”
– Following this phrase “I haven’t said that I won’t stand” that was repeated in various ways by him and members of his faction in the next few days, there was a wave of attacks initiated by the supreme leader’s faction against Rafsanjani. They are saying if Rafsanjani intends to register his candidacy for the presidency, we will make revelations about you, and this reached a point where the Minister of Intelligence Heidar Moslehi even threatened him with house arrest (similar to Mousawi and Karoubi). In addition to Intelligence Minister, Hassan Shariatmadari, Ali Akbar Velayati and Khamenei’s brother also attacked Rafsanjani. By way of preliminary pressure, the first session of the trial of Rafsanjani’s son Mehdi Hashemi was heard on 5 May 2013.
Q&A on Rafsanjani’s probable candidacy
1. What danger does Rafsanjani entering the scene pose for Khamenei? They were polar, yet inseparable, partners for 8 years when Khamenei was the leader and Rafsanjani the president:
Answer: The truth is that the ‘spell’ of the supreme leader was shattered in 2009 and the status quo is fundamentally incomparable to the 1990s when Rafsanjani was president. On the other hand, following Khamenei’s treason in 2005 against Rafsanjani, and by engineering the elections to bring Ahmadinejad to power, that earlier relationship between the two no longer exists. The main issue is that Khamenei understands that in the regime’s current critical conditions, any rift – especially in the regime’s most senior ranks – will rapidly lead to his overthrow.
For some time now in the regime’s news and analysis there are concerns being raised of a repeat of the 2009 uprising. Now that Rafsanjani’s candidacy has become more serious, this issue has also intensified. This includes remarks made recently by Mullah Alam al-Hoda, Khamenei’s representative in Khorosan Province, where he said, “This year’s sedition has become more complicated than the 2009 sedition, and we must enter the elections scene with all of our essence and existence, and even pay the price with our lives and reputations. In the political epic we must carry out measures that in addition to the fact that they be critically dangerous for us, we might also have our reputation on the line. If all the seditionists and deviants appear on the scene at once, you must not only bring your lives and bodies to the slaughterhouse, but also your dignity and reputation.”
2. What is the regime’s assessment of the status quo, and why does Mullah Alam al-Hoda feel threatened?
Response: Mullah Alam al-Hoda in his remarks shows that the current crisis has broken Khamenei’s spell. Rifts inside Khamenei’s faction, the Ahmadinejad headache (it is unclear what will happen if Mashaie’s candidacy is rejected by the Guardian Council) and Rafsanjani, who entered the scene on 16 April 2013 in overt opposition Khamenei, all show that the supreme leader has no specific prospect of solving this dilemma in the senior ranks. They are terrified of the fact that this rift in the regime’s senior ranks will mean an open-window society. In such conditions the people and National Liberation Army will enter the equation, and this is the nightmare that Alam al-Hoda is referring to. Questions are being raised inside the regime about what will happen if Rafsanjani becomes a candidate, appears on television as a candidate, reveals a portion of the crisis and places all the blame on Khamenei? What will happen if we prevent him from appearing on TV? What will happen if he steps aside and announces the elections are not free? Will 2009 be repeated? Their nightmare scenario is another uprising.
3. Will the Guardian Council disqualify Rafsanjani?
Answer: Everything is possible. However, fundamentally the answer to this question is negative because currently Rafsanjani is head of the Expediency Council, and the Guardian Council led by Janati is under his control in this council. How can Janati and the Guardian Council disqualify Rafsanjani? It is true that Rafsanjani brought Khamenei to the Revolution Council in the early years after the 1979 revolution, and it was him that made Khamenei the supreme leader in the Assembly of Experts. Janati himself was present in the Assembly of Experts session. The same Janati and many other Assembly of Experts’ members are still in power today. Therefore, disqualifying Rafsanjani is impossible. (One cannot even compare the Rafsanjani-Khamenei equation with the Khomeini-Montazeri equation).
All indications say that Khamenei is faced with a serious challenge with Rafsanjani entering the scene, and the Rafsanjani dilemma has become bigger than the Ahmadinejad dilemma for Khamenei. Khamenei’s strategy is to prevent Rafsanjani’s candidacy (in that case he will most definitely block Khatami and Mashaie, too) and in addition to continuing his policy of contraction, he will have his own person elected from the other candidates. However, if Rafsanjani announces his candidacy, Khamenei will have to pay a heavy price in any scenario, with Rafsanjani going to the ballot box or pulling out altogether.
In short, it appears that in this milestone election, this inseparable polar couple have reached their end and the determining decision made by Khamenei will lead to the regime’s downfall in any scenario. Or in other words, it will bring the overthrow phase closer than ever before.