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Posts Tagged ‘ Majlis ’

  • 14 March 2012
  • Posted By Angie Ahmadi
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran’s Parliamentary Vote: The Beginning of the End of Ahmadinejad

Cross-posted from Huffington Post:

Last Friday, Iran held its first elections since the controversial 2009 presidential contest, after which millions of voters poured into streets of Tehran. Unrest following the announced re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad culminated in mass detention, torture and the death of many protesters. It also led to the near-elimination of pro-reform political forces in the Islamic Republic. For this very reason, the parliamentary vote last week should be viewed as an unrepresentative sham — nothing more than a selection process amongst the ruling conservative elite.

As the dispute between Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad runs deeper, this election is widely interpreted as a battle between these two political heavyweights. With the ballot boxes now counted, the outcome categorically declares Khamenei as the winner — as was broadly anticipated. But placing Iran’s future policy trajectory in its proper context requires caution against reaching hasty conclusions. The results clearly show that candidates openly associated with Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie failed to enter the parliament. However, the Islamic Revolution Durability Front, backed by ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi and fairly close to Ahmadinejad, performed relatively well, thereby lessening the possibility of a solid opposition to the president emerging in the new parliament.

  • 29 June 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

A Majlis of the IRGC, by the IRGC, and for the IRGC

The recent battle over Azad University and its assets is not only a sign of a growing division in Iran’s hardliners. If one looks more closely, the growing importance of the IRGC in Iranian politics is also becoming clearer.

Originally created by Ayatollah Khomeini to be the Supreme Leader’s personal militia, the IRGC acts independently from the official armed forces. While it already controls a large segment of the Iranian economy, in the last decade the IRGC has also been increasingly acting like an independent branch in the government.

In recent decades, the IRGC has been used to suppress Iran’s rapidly developing civil society and student movement. Over the last two years, though, it has reached a boiling point: Hillary Clinton said Iran is becomming a “military dictatorship,” and the disputed electoral victory for Ahmadinejad last June was labeled a military coup.

“It is not a theocracy anymore,” said Rasool Nafisi, an expert in Iranian affairs and co-author of an exhaustive study of the IRGC. “It is a regular military security government with a facade of a Shiite clerical system.”

Now, the IRGC’s ascendancy is playing out in a battle over Azad University, its board, its 1.5 million students, and its billions of dollars worth of assets.

On June 19, Azad University’s board secured a temporary injunction preventing the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution (SCCR) from enforcing its revision of the university’s charter. In support of Azad University, on June 20 a bill was rushed through the 270-member Majlis that allowed universities to endow their properties to the public, thus circumventing the government takeover of the University.

As all political moves in Iran are protested by one group or another, shortly thereafter Basijis and Ahmadinejad loyalists protested outside Majlis, claiming the bill was against Khamenei’s will. Protesters threatened to place the Majlis “under fire” unless it backed away from its bill.

What is interesting to note is that the Basij and Ahmadinejad loyalists were not actually acting in the name of the Supreme Leader as they claimed. In fact, Khamenei came out and called for unity, saying “I object to any comment, move, action, or written text that leads to division and rift…We need to promote consolidation.” It thus seems that the Basij have actually developed a position of their own, independent of the Supreme Leader.

As a result of the heated protests, 100 legislators voted for emergency discussion of legislation that would support the SCCR’s authority in the matter. In other words, this discussion could overturn the endowment bill passed earlier on June 20.

The fact that protest by the Basij led many Majlis members to change their mind is a sign of their growing power.  According to U.S.-based political analyst Reza Fani Yazdi:

“It seems that from now on any bill that is due to be ratified by the parliament [must] be approved by the security military forces, otherwise the same thing will happen and they will bring their pressure groups to the streets and force the parliament not to make any independent decisions— even the current parliament, which includes many former members of the [Revolutionary Guard] and close aides of Ahmadinejad’s government.

As NIAC Advisory Board Member Reza Aslan said shortly after the June elections, “There is a genuine fear… that Iran is beginning to resemble Egypt or Pakistan, countries in which the military controls the apparatus of government.” If the IRGC begins to control the Majlis as well, Aslan will have proven to be right.

It is important to note, of course, that the IRGC is far from a monolithic organization. Members voted for various political candidates in the elections and of course do not all support Ahmadinejad. In fact, many former members denounced the regime’s brutal crackdown following the June 2009 elections. The effects of this great diversity on the battle over Azad University remains to be seen.

For now,  if the Ahmadinejad camp wins this political battle, they will control the billions of dollars of assets belonging to the university. The university’s campuses will be controlled by the government’s security and military apparatus. But most important, and perhaps most frightening, their victory will also serve as a precedent for the IRGC to effectively control the Majlis in the future through intimidation and violence, thus permanently overshadowing the most representative branch of the Iranian government. And with such a diverse IRGC, who knows what will happen next?

Photo Credit: Radio Farda

  • 25 June 2010
  • Posted By Shawn Vl
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009, Persian Gulf

Iran’s Hardliners Continue Splitting

Tensions are boiling in Iran’s parliament over the government’s demand to take control over the assets of Azad University, which amounts to over $200 billion. This feud between the parliament and Ahmadinejad’s administration reflects the ongoing battles between the camps of Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad. (Azad University was one of the most successful pet projects and legacies of the Rafsanjani era.)

Recently, the hardliners organized a mob of Basijis to demonstrate against the parliament in order to make the MPs succumb to the government’s demands for changing the Azad University’s Board of Directors that are part of the Rafsanjani coterie. The mob chanted offensive slogans, like “Death to the hypocrites” and “Shame on this disgraceful assembly.”

But this intimidation actually backfired. In response, many conservative MP’s lashed out at the government of Ahmadinejad for instigating “such insolence.” This response is reflective of an emerging third conservative faction that has become disillusioned with the hard-liners like Ahmadinejad and is increasingly distancing themselves from their hostile policies. Prominent conservative elements of the Majlis, like Motahari and Larijani, are also fed up with the political tactics of intimidation employed by Ahmadinejad supporters.

Obviously, this rift in the establishment is the product of last year’s presidential elections. The post-election turmoil sparked an internal power struggle that is continuously fluctuating in its intensity. Without this constant struggle, it is unlikely that such a sensitive matter that would have so embroiled the different chambers of the Iranian government, and then have surfaced for the entire Iranian nation to see as well.

  • 3 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

18 Cabinet nominees approved by Majlis

Iran’s Majlis approved 18 votes of confidence for President Ahmadinejad’s 21-member Cabinet on Thursday. Although, it was expected that at least 1/3 of the nominees would not receive a vote of confidence because of  rumors of “disqualification,” it is said that the Speaker of Majlis (Ali Larijani) informed the Representatives of the Supreme Leader’s desire to have all Cabinet nominees approved.  If this news is accurate, the strong support of the Majlis could be considered as an important boost for the Supreme Leader influence.

Press TV reported on the vote Thursday:

Iranian parliamentarians have given their vote of confidence to 18 of the 21 nominees proposed for ministerial posts, including one of the women candidates. Of the 18 approved ministers, Brigadier Ahmad Vahidi won the highest number of votes and Marzieh-Vahid Dastjerdi became Iran’s first woman minister since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The nominees who failed to win the parliament’s approval were the proposed candidates for the ministries of welfare and social security, energy, and education, Fatemeh Ajorlou, Mohammad Aliabadi, and Sousan Keshavarz. Ajorlou only gained 76 votes, much less than the required 143 votes. Aliabadi fell short of gaining the vote of confidence by six votes, and Keshavarz got the lowest approval with just 49 votes.

The lawmakers approved President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s choice of the following individuals for the leading posts at the country’s ministries:

(Candidates: Votes in favor, Votes against, Abstentions)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki: 173, 79, 34

Minister of Oil Masoud Mirkazemi: 147, 117, 19

Minister of Defense Brigadier Ahmad Vahidi: 227, 54, 5

Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi: 194, 67, 25

Minister of Justice Morteza Bakhtiari: 225, 36, 23

Minister of Interior Mostafa Mohammad Najjar: 182, 75, 25

Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Seyyed Shamseddin Hosseini: 224, 41, and 21

Minister of Commerce Mehdi Ghazanfari: 158, 91, 37

Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini: 194, 61, 31

Minister of Cooperatives Mohammad Abbasi: 163, 83, 37

Minister of Industries and Mines Ali Akbar Mehrabian: 153, 103, 27

Minister of Jihad-e-Agriculture Sadeq Khalilian: 200, 54, 32

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Reza Taqipour: 197, 62, 27

Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi: 175, 82, 29

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Abdolreza
Sheikholeslami: 193, 63, 30

Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Ali Nikzad: 219, 40, 27

Minister of Science, Research and Technology Kamran Daneshjoo: 186, 75, 25

Minister of Road and Transportation Hamid Behbahani: 167, 83, 33

The new cabinet is scheduled to hold its first meeting in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Sunday. President Ahmadinejad has invited all the parliamentarians to take part in the planned meeting.

  • 2 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Final day of Ahmadinejad’s cabinet debate

From Press TV:

Iran’s Parliament has begun the final day of consecutive debates on reviewing the credentials of the eight remaining ministers proposed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Debates on President Ahmadinejad’s 21-member Cabinet line-up began on Sunday with hot discussions by lawmakers speaking for and against the proposed nominees.

During Majlis session on Wednesday, the lawmakers will discuss the remaining eight proposed ministers who will each have the opportunity to present their plans. To take office, the potential ministers will have to gain the Parliament’s vote of confidence by winning the approval of the majority of the representatives.

Majlis is scheduled to complete the process and give its vote of confidence decisions to President Ahmadinejad’s 21-member Cabinet late Wednesday.

Parliamentary debates over the new Cabinet line-up kicked off on Sunday in Iran with President Ahmadinejad delivering speeches about his plans of the future government and defending his chosen candidates. At the end of discussions, Ahmadinejad will have the opportunity to make his final remarks defending his proposed 21-member Cabinet.

  • 26 August 2009
  • Posted By Artin
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Majles Representative Admits Widespread Sexual Molestation Using Objects

Breaking news from the Majles Reformist news site, Parleman News (h/t New York Times):

One of the members of the Special Committee on Reviewing the Conditions of Post-Election Prisoners has admitted that, “Sexual molestation using batons and glass bottles against some of the  post-election prisoners has become widespread.”

“Unfortunately, some of the post-election prisoners have suffered by the usage of glass bottles and batons and these incidents have become common for the Special Committee.

“Though we do not have reliable information or documentation from the agents of this molestation, it does not really make difference at the heart of the matter.”

As Mehdi Karroubi and his political associates leak more details about prison abuse, corroboration by Majles representatives will make it very difficult for the government to control the people’s reaction.

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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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