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Cablegate: Iran: Clerical Confab Stiffs Rafsanjani for Supreme Leader

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FM RPO DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0543
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/USCENTCOM TELECOM CENTER MACDILL AFB FL
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0426
RUEHDIR/RPO DUBAI 0544

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RPO DUBAI 000389

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 9/24/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV IR
SUBJECT: IRAN: CLERICAL CONFAB STIFFS RAFSANJANI FOR SUPREME LEADER

REF: RPO DUBAI 384

DUBAI 00000389 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Alan Eyer, Director, Iran Regional Presence
Office, DOS.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Oppositionist hopes that Iran's clerical class
would mobilize to oppose Supreme Leader Khamenei's post-election
policies appear sharply diminished in the wake of the first
Assembly of Experts meeting since the June 12 Presidential
election. Not only did the Assembly, which has the power to
appoint, supervise and dismiss the Supreme Leader, give a
ringing endorsement of Khamenei's rule and his handling of the
post-election crisis, it did so in the conspicuous absence of
its Chair, Ayatollah Rafsanjani. Moreover, leaks of the
closed-door proceedings to the conservative press indicate that
at least two prominent members of this clerical deliberative
body excoriated Rafsanjani for his failure to support Khamenei
during the unrest. Despite his absence at the closure of the
Assembly of Experts meeting, Rafsanjani was compelled to
publicly endorse the closing statement while seated at the knee
of the Supreme Leader during a September 24 press conference.
END SUMMARY.

Assembly of Experts: A 'Deliberative' Body

2 (C) The Majles-e Khobregan, or Assembly of Experts (AOE), is a
Constitutionally-mandated deliberative body composed of 86
directly-elected senior clerics from across the country. By
law, the Assembly must meet for a minimum of two days twice a
year. Though theoretically vested with the power to appoint,
supervise and dismiss the Supreme Leader, in practical terms the
Assembly's only real responsibility is to appoint the Supreme
Leader's successor should he die or become incapacitated. As
such, the AOE's last noteworthy act was appointing current
Supreme Leader Khamenei after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1989
death. Every subsequent meeting has ended with the issuance of
a perfunctory statement lauding the Assembly's decision to
appoint Khamenei and praising his leadership. Nevertheless,
according to Article 111 of the Constitution, the Assembly can
find Khamenei unfit for office; accordingly, control of the AOE
remains a (potential) check on the Supreme Leader's otherwise
unbridled power.

3. (C) The Assembly is currently chaired by Ayatollah Ali Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was re-elected to the two-year term of
Speaker in March 2009. At the time of his re-election, he
garnered 51 votes, an improvement over the 46 votes he received
in 2007, despite efforts by hardline conservative clerics, led
by Ayatollahs Mesbah-Yazdi and Ibrahim Yazdi, to unseat him.

First Meeting since the Election

4. (C) On September 22-23 the AOE convened for the first time
since Iran's disputed June 12 election. Rafsanjani opened the
sixth official meeting of this Fourth Assembly of Experts by
again cautioning that a "suspicious faction" is trying to create
rifts among Iran's leaders and by condemning the "atmosphere of
insults and dispute" that has prevailed since the June
presidential election. He also promised that "system insiders
of good will" are developing a plan to resolve Iran's domestic
political problems. His opening statement was followed by
reports to the body by Judiciary deputy Mohsen Ejei
(Intelligence Minister during the presidential election and its
aftermath) and Revolutionary Guards Commander Jaafari.
According to press reports, at least sixteen Assembly members
spoke.

5. (C) Though summaries of the closed-door proceedings released
by Rafsanjani's office did not reflect any discord among the
members and indeed indicated the body's support of him,
conservative Iranian press charged Rafsanjani's office with
'censoring' coverage of the proceeding, reporting that at least
two prominent members sharply criticized Rafsanjani for failing
to support the Supreme Leader after the disputed election. One
quotation prominently featured in conservative news outlets was
Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah al-Hoda rhetorically
asking Rafsanjani, "why after twenty years, have you remained
silent in the face of these unprecedented insults (to the
Supreme Leader)?"

DUBAI 00000389 002.2 OF 002

6. (C) More tellingly, Rafsanjani did not attend the second and
final day of the meeting, with recently retired former Judiciary
Head Ayatollah Shahrudi chairing in his absence. Hardline
conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (the same cleric who
replaced Rafsanjani as Qods Day prayer leader - reftel) read the
Assembly's final statement, which was an unqualified if not
fawning endorsement of the Supreme Leader himself and his "wise
policies" for quickly extinguishing the post-election "flames of
sedition." Khatami noted that Rafsanjani, despite his absence,
agreed with "every point" of the final statement, which also
credited Khamenei for dismissing the fraud allegations as part
of a plot to undermine the Islamic Republic. The final
statement was also noteworthy in its perfunctory congratulations
to President Ahmadinejad for his election victory, and its more
sincere admonishment of Ahmadinejad to scrupulously follow
Supreme Leader Khamenei's guidance.

7. (C) COMMENT: Following the disputed June 12 presidential
election, many speculated that the axis of a Rafsanjani
counter-attack would focus on rallying clerical support to his
cause. However, the rumored AOE "emergency session" never
convened, and absent such a meeting it remained unclear how much
support Rafsanjani had among this body that reflects the
political leanings of Iran's traditional senior clergy. Now
that the AOE has met, it is clear that the clerical cavalry
isn't coming over the horizon anytime soon. Furthermore, the
AOE final statement, seen in conjunction with the removal of
Rafsanjani as Qods Day Speaker (reftel), indicates in the
clearest terms yet that in the most severe crisis of his career,
Rafsanjani is unable to mobilize his once vast and influential
patronage network to achieve his political ends. And given that
Rafsanjani's presumed power is serving as at least a partial
deterrent to further regime moves against Mousavi, Karrubi and
Khatami, the results of this two-day AOE session bode ill for
the leadership of the oppositionist "Green Path of Hope." END
COMMENT.
EYRE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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