On September 8th 2011, the Turkish Ambassador to Ireland, Altay Cengizer, published an opinion piece in the Irish Times which stated the need for Israel to formally apologise for the Mavi Marmara incident.
Israeli Ambassador Boaz Modai issued his rebuttal to Ambassador Cengizer in the weekend edition of the same paper, citing the Palmer report’s support for the legality of the Israeli naval blockade, and accussing Turkey of promoting radicalism in the region by adopting an uncompromising stance with Israel.
The leaking of the Palmer Report into the Mavi Marmara raid by the IDF in May 2010 has deepened the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey. With the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ankara last week, Israel’s uncompromising stance, and Turkey’s demand for restitution and a formal apology has left these once close allies at loggerheads.
The recent passing in the Knesset of the law allowing for civil actions against any organisation or individual who boycotts settlements or settlement produce has stirred up a hornets nest in Israeli society, highlighting the increasingly prominent cleavage line between “right” and “left” in Israel.
The law has been met with vehement opposition from academics, NGO’s and other sections of Israeli society, many of whom insist that the law is tantamount to suppression of freedom of expression, and is leading Israel down a dark path. The opponents of this law, who express deep concern at the perceived fascist tendencies of the Yisrael Beitenu-Likud coalition, and who have pinned their hopes on the Supreme Court quashing the legislation, have been offered a somewhat bombastic rebuttal by both FM Avigdor Lieberman and PM Benyamin Netanyahu.
Gideon Levy, a prominent Ha’aretz writer offers a distinctive assessment of the Israeli response to the impending “Freedom Flotilla”. Levy’s contention is that such political activism against injustice is appreciated by left-wing Israelis, but only when it relates to anywhere but Israel. A contentious position for some, but a common opinion in European media.
While a crackdown on opposition leaders Mir Hussein Moussavi and Karoubi, under house arrest for more than 80 days, has reportedly weakened the Green Movements and should have consolidated the Conservatives control over the country, a growing feud between followers of President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khameini is raising serious questions on the future stability of the country.
The feud opposing the two men, who were close in the past most notably after the 2009 elections where Khameini publicly supported the President, initially started on 17 April after Ahamdinejad fired the Minister of Interior, Moslehi, which was reinstated a couple of hours later by Khameini. The Iranian constitution does not provide any direct powers for the Supreme Leader to intervene directly in the country’s politics. However, it is well guarded that the Supreme Leader has almost unlimited powers. Indeed, the Iranian constitution provides that the Supreme Leader is responsible for the “supervision over the proper execution of the general policies”. The Supreme Leader declared that the he would interfere in the country’s politics if he deems that the country’s national interest is in jeopardy.
The feud between the two men uncovers a broader power struggle. Indeed, the Iranian Constitution does not allow a candidate to run for a 3rd mandate. Ahmadinejad currently conducting his 2nd presidential mandate will not be able to run for presidency in 2013. Observers say that the President Ahmadinejad is trying to promote his closest ally, relative and advisor Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie for 2013. It is also believed that Moslehi is Khameini’s preferred candidate for presidency in 2013.
Both Mashaie and Ahmadinejad have been fostering a new political agenda and dogma revolving around the concept of Iranian nationalism. Indeed, Mashaie has been promoting the slogan of “Islam without clerics”. Furthermore, both Ahmadinejad and Mashaie have been tapping into Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage referring to Cyrus the Great and the Zoroastratian heritage. Ahmadinejad called for great festivities for the Iranian New Year celebrations, Now Rouz, for which he organized an important celebration at Persepolis. Over twenty heads of State including the Supreme Leader were invited for this occasion. The latter left the festivities before they started. Ahmadinejad has recently spent millions in recovering the Cyrus Cylinder (considered by some as the world’s first Human Rights Declaration) back to Iran from the London British Museum and praising its value and singularity.
Ahmadinejad’s doings have angered the conservative clergy, which sees Ahmadinejad’s attempts to control the key political position as a direct threat to their rule. There have been recent talks of impeachments where a majority of members of the parliament have written an open letter to Ahmadinejad asking him to comply with Khamenei. Ahmadinejad has to this day refused to comply with the demands and boycotted his functions for eleven days. He refused to attend cabinet meetings and has yet to make a public comment about the decision. He reportedly returned to office on 1st of May.
With a fragile economy looming towards exhaustion and increasing political instability within Iran’s conservative ranks, the future is quite uncertain. The future holds three distinct scenarios: either one of the two men accepts to cave in and loses a decisive battle or Ahmadinejad accepts to resign from his position and the country would most certainly be subject to turmoil. The prospects are daunting…
Why the Iranian president’s latest fight with the supreme leader could be his last.
BY ABBAS MILANI | APRIL 29, 2011
Weekly Report Iran
02/05 08/05 2011
01/05 2011: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned to office after 11 days of having boycotted his duties and having missed two ministerial meetings. It is said the President Ahmadinejad boycotted his functions over a feud opposing the President and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini. The feud initially started on April 17 over control of the Ministery of Interior. The split between the men, who had been close in the past, appeared to be centered on a battle for influence over next year’s parliamentary election and a presidential election in 2013. It flared last month when Mr. Ahmadinejad dismissed the powerful intelligence minister, whom Ayatollah Khamenei then quickly reinstated.
02/05 2011: The Bahraini Chamber of Commerce called for Gulf Arab nationals to boycott Iranian goods and halt all financial transactions with Tehran. The Chamber requested that all countries of the GCC boycott Iranian goods and halt financial transactions with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
04/05 2011: Two were left gravely injured after clashes between Iranian police and anti-Saudi protestors during a football game opposing Tehran’s Piroozi beat al-Ittihad from Saudi Arabia 3-2.
05/05 2011: Sarah Shourd refuses to return to Iran for trial facing charges of spying. Previously arrested in 2009 while trekking with two colleagues, Sarah Shourd was held captive on spying allegations. She was finally released in 2010 and returned to the US. Her fiancé and a friend are still in Iran and are to face trial on the 11 May over spying allegations.
05/05 2011: Close allies of President Ahmadinejad have been accused of sorcery. Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being “magicians” and invoking djinns (spirits). The arrestment of several close allies of the President is part of the increasing tensions between the President and the Supreme Leader. Khamenei’s supporters believe that the top-level confrontation stems from the increasing influence of Mashaei, an opponent of greater involvement of clerics in politics, who is being groomed by Ahmadinejad as a possible successor. The feud has taken a metaphysical turn following the release of an Iranian documentary alleging the imminent return of the Hidden Imam Mahdi – the revered saviour of Shia Islam, whose reappearance is anticipated by believers. Conservative clerics, who say that the Mahdi’s return cannot be predicted, have accused a “deviant current” within the president’s inner circle, including Mashaei, of being responsible for the film.
06/05 2011: Iran’s Supreme Leader asked Ayatollah Khameini urged President Ahmadinejad to accept the appointed minister by the Supreme Leader or quit. In a video released on Iranian websites, Agha-Tehrani quotes Ahmadinejad as saying: “[Khamenei] gave me a deadline to make up my mind. I would either accept [the reinstatement] or resign.”
06/05: Six Iranian are undergoing a hunger strike for the past 32 days in front of the UK Home Office. The six Iranians are facing possible deportation to Iran. The six have warned that they will be subject to torture and physical violence if they were to be sent back to Iran. The six young men were arrested and allegedly tortured and beaten after having taken part to anti-governments protest after the 2009 Iranian elections.
07/05: New films by two convicted Iranian directors, Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, will be shown at this month’s Cannes Film Festival in France.
08/05 2011: In Abu Dhabi, the Iranian Minister of Interior publicly refuted allegations by the members of the GCC over Iranian interference in the Arab popular revolts. Mister Mohammad Najjar also qualified the attempts of GCC to rename the Persian Gulf as “futile”.
08/05: Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has advised all political groups to maintain unity.
The president of the United States announced today that US Forces have located and killed Osama Bin Laden. The operation took place just outside Islamabad in North-West Pakistan last night. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea to comply with Islamic principles of a quick burial and to avoid his grave from becoming a shrine.
The United States and the United Kingdom’s security threat levels remain at severe, indicating a terrorist attack is highly likely. Both countries have asked their nationals overseas to remain vigilant at all times.