• 26 January 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

That’s Mr. Supreme Leader to You?

Following the news of Mehdi Karroubi ‘recognizing’ Ahmadinejad as head of government, many are quick to label him as a traitor, or wonder why the sudden softened stance from Karroubi. Although both Khatami and Karroubi dropped their demand for a new presidential election, the reformists still maintain that the presidential election was fraudulent. According to The New York Times, Karroubi’s equally controversial and ambiguous statements have created quite a frenzy.

Mr. Karroubi’s son, Hussein Karroubi, contacted Saham News, a news service affiliated with the reform movement, to clarify that his father had not backed off any of his charges of fraud, or of protesters’ being raped and sodomized by prison staff members.

I stand firmly by the belief that cheating took place in the election and the results were doubtful, and I believe the vote count was completely rigged,” the younger Mr. Karroubi said, quoting his father, in an interview with Saham News. “However, since Mr. Khamenei endorsed Mr. Ahmadinejad, for this very reason I consider him the president of the current government of this system.” He referred to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

What is most interesting about Karroubi’s statements is the fact that he clearly defines Ahmadinejad’s legitimacy as coming from the Supreme Leader, and not the people of Iran; Karroubi continually upholds the belief that the results of the June presidential elections were fraudulent and rigged. Beyond that, referral to Supreme Leader Khamenei as “Mr.” Khamenei, rather than the more proper title of  “Ayatollah Khamenei” or “Supreme Leader Khamenei” also adds to the bold nature of Karroubi’s comments.

Perhaps this was meant as a tacit jab to Ayatollah Khamenei’s own authority. Some report that Karroubi’s use of “Mr. Khamenei” referral was not an accidental slip of the tongue, but rather meant as a deliberate insult to the Supreme Leader, citing that the comments remained unchanged on Saham News for hours.

Posted By Nayda Lakelieh

    5 Responses to “That’s Mr. Supreme Leader to You?”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Well Nayda, he couldn’t exactly backtrack on his earlier contention. How would he explain his flip-flop? More convenient to express his come-down this way.

    Let’s hope for progress towards reconciliation.

    There are unmistakable signs of effort being made, and this may be interpreted as a nudge forward to that end.

  2. Iranian-American says:

    Did anyone seriously think Karroubi softened his stance? This is all a little silly to make a big deal out of nothing.

    There is no question as to where Karroubi stands. The more important point here is that while Karroubi’s efforts to confront an increasingly brutal and repressive Iranian government he helped create are appreciated by the opposition, they are far from necessary for the movement to thrive. As I, and others, have stated before, the lack of a central leader is a strength of this movement, not a weakness. This is precisely why the officials have not yet arrested opposition figures like Karroubi and Mousavi. Arresting them would only invigorate the opposition, while not really being much of a setback for the opposition. Leaving them free poses a much smaller threat given that they have very little say in influencing the demands of the people. What is interesting is that it seems Karroubi has figured this out allowing him to be more bold in his statements.

    Rather than hope for an unjust reconciliation, let’s hope that the Iranian people continue to increase their demands for democracy and freedom, however “radical” those demands may seem to a backwards government and it supporters. I think there is great hope for this.

    Iranians deserve to live in a free and prosperous country free of any religious theocracy. This would have positive effects for all Iranians, the region and the world. To quote Robert Kagan, “Imagine an Iran whose educated, inventive and highly cultured people were allowed to flourish, fully enmeshed in the global economy and society. Imagine the effect on the Muslim world and the greater Middle East of a modernizing, prosperous Iran that held regular, free and fair elections.”[1] It is hard to imagine such an Iran under the current government.


  3. Publicola says:

    »Iranians deserve to live in a free and prosperous country free of any religious theocracy. This would have positive effects for all Iranians, the region and the world.«

    This statement is quite plausible, as shown and proven for example by the following interview (way back in the past, in 2000) with the then German Foreign Secretary:

    [Excerpts/Quotes from the Interview with the then German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer on the occasion of the state visit of President Chatami in Berlin, given to the broadsheet serious national daily “SZ” / “Süddeutsche Zeitung” – respected for its reporting of international affairs – 13th July, 2000 under the headline]


    »[…] The democratic reform process under President Chatami offers a great chance for human rights, democracy, peace and stability in a region which is also for us extremely dangerous. […]

    He is supported by the broad majority of the Iranian nation and is facing adversaries who a determined to do anything [against him]. In Iran there is something like a diarchy [ = two power-centres are in rule]. But it would be a decisive mistake not to support the reformers. That is not only a matter of political reason but lies clearly in the interest of Germany. […]

    Chatami and the majority of the population behind him do want democracy and thus an Iran that is making use of its potential of a civil society and is on this way to become anchor and mainstay of stability in a region which is lacking in anchors/mainstays of stability. [As to different views, critical of Chatami:] Anything else is wishful thinking. […]

    We see a country in a time of awakening and change towards democratic reforms. It does not make any sense to call such a state a “risky state” in the sense of a “rogue state” [he criticizes here the hardline Western/American view at that time]. […]

    When viewing the archipelago of crises of the coming decades, […] Iran is coming more and more to the fore as a potential factor of stability. […]

    Chatami is clearly organizing policies of opening up. […] I was favourably taken aback and surprised about the potential of Iran as civil society. […] Iran is probably the country offering the greatest/most excellent opportunities towards a civil society in that region.

    […] Cultural exchange with Iran is becoming more and more relevant also in view of democratic basic values, the rule of law – values which are not tied to western culture, but are universally compatible principles. […] «

    […] = omissions by the undersigned

    [xyz] = annotations by the undersigned

    translated by the undersigned


    SZ, 13.07.2000 –

  4. Farrokh Bulsarada says:

    Nayda very good analysis. Your star is rising.

  5. Eric says:

    A free Iran would have HUGE ramifications worldwide, in a very positive way.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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