Hashemi Rafsanjani under growing pressure
Islamic Republic officials have approved the publication of a book entitled “The 5+1 Group”, which describes moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran’s Expediency Council, as the “main supporter” of the mass protests that followed the 2009 presidential elections.
The Shargh newspaper wrote in its Sunday issue: “This book presents MirHosein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, Yousef Sanei, Mohammad Mousavi Khoveiniha and Mohammad Khatami as the leaders of the 2009 sedition, and identifies Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as the behind-the-scenes figure of the sedition.”
Iranian authorities refer to the protests that were triggered by allegations of fraud in the 2009 presidential elections as “sedition”, and the senior figures of the establishment that supported the protests are referred to as the “leaders of the sedition.”
The Ministry of Culture approved the publication of this book at a time when the pressures against Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani have reached a new high.
The Iranian Student News Agency published a report last week indicating that Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, may be thinking of appointing a new chairman for the sixth session of the Expediency Council.
Hashemi Rafsanjani’s critics say he is “unable to identify what is expedient for himself and his family, let alone the expediency of the country.” Hashemi Rafsanjani’s daughter and son have also faced prosecution in recent years for their involvement in the 2009 protests.
The Expediency Council was established in 1990 to resolve differences between the Guardian Council and Parliament. For the first two years, the council was chaired by Ayatollah Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader, but Ayatollah Rafsanjani has held the chairmanship since then.
The current session of the Expediency Council will end this February, and Ayatollah Khamenei is set to appoint the members of the sixth session.
Analysts say the recent blocking of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s website and the six-month prison sentence and five-year ban from political and media activities given to his daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, are signs that Rafsanjani's scope of power in the establishment is shrinking.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani was also removed as the head of the Assembly of Experts after the disputed elections of 2009.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani was heavily criticized by Ayatollah Khamenei for demanding a vote recount during his Friday mass in Tehran in June of 2009, and for refusing to condemn the protests led by MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who both challenged Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election victory.