Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rafsanjani Falling

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who served as Iran's president from 1989-1997, lost to Ahmadinejad in 2005, and was a behind-the-scenes mover of Mir Hussein Musavi's 2009 campaign that led to the Green Movement, has been taking major political hits for at least a year, possibly as payback for his 2009 actions. Tehran Bureau reports:
"Two websites connected to Ahmadinejad and the security forces claimed that when the current term of the chairmanship of the Expediency Discernment Council expires next month, Khamenei will not reappoint Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as its Chair. Bultan News, a website linked with the security forces, speculated that Hassan Rowhani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator during the Khatami administration, will be the new Chair of the Council. Rowhani is a member of the Council, as well as the head of its Center for Strategic Studies.

"Then Shabestan News Agency, run by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, analyzed the possibility that Rafsanjani might be assassinated, but dismissed the notion, pointing out that he is no longer an influential figure after losing the Chairmanship of the Assembly of Experts and control of Islamic Azad University. He also no longer serves as the Friday prayer Imam of Tehran. It then speculated that he will not be reappointed as the Chairman of the Council.

"Since the June 2009 presidential election, the hardliners' pressure on Rafsanjani has increased tremendously. In addition to losing all his influential posts, the website that reflected his views has been blocked, his daughter Faezeh Hashemi has been sentenced to six months in jail, and his 16-year-old grandson is under investigation. The family of one his sons has also been barred from leaving Iran.

"As a result of a quasi-coup, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has finally succeeded in taking control of the Islamic Azad University, Iran's largest university system, one of the largest of its kind in the world. It happened at the end of a meeting of the board of trustees of the university, which Rafsanjani leads. After the former president and his supporters left the meeting, the representatives of Ahmadinejad's camp on the board announced that Farhad Daneshjoo, a brother of the Minister of Science, Research and Technology, which overseas the universities, has been elected by the board as the new president of the university, replacing Rafsanjani's ally Dr. Abdollah Jasbi, who has led the university since its inception in 1982. Rafsanjani said that he will not sign the order for Daneshjoo's appointment, but Daneshjoo has said that he will not back down because the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution, an extra-constitutional body that control cultural affairs, has confirmed him as the new president of the university."

Some of that is unconfirmed or still being battled over, but the trend is clear. Leadership of Islamic Azad University is a big deal financially as well as politically, as it has well over one million students. It has been the scene of political fighting for several years.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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