Hashemi’s Choice: Hero or Antihero?

12 July 2009 | 17:36 Code : 5028 General category
One big question for Iranian politicians after the elections: what is Hashemi doing? By Javad Mahzadeh.
Hashemi’s Choice: Hero or Antihero?
Hashemi Rafsanjani, who came into spotlight after Ahmadinejad-Musavi debate, is passing days flooded by meetings and rumors. During the past 20 days, not a single day has passed without news about Hashemi and his backstage maneuvers concerning the election results.
  In his televised debate with Mir Hosein Musavi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dragged Hashemi into the elections, accusing his family of financial corruption –the most influential technique to gain vote- and claimed that he is the backstage director of Musavi’s campaign. Hashemi met Ahmadinejad once after the debate in Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum. During the Supreme Leader’s speech, the former president and his successor had sat beside each other, clearly with different moods. The photo circulated after the ceremony showing Hashemi handing Ahmadinejad a letter with a bitter smile was the hot topic of media and political circles for some days.
  Different interpretations were made of the photo, even promoting jokes which spread by the short message system. The arguments between Ahmadinejad’s government and institutions such as the parliament and Expediency Discernment Council were not a hidden issue during these four years, but the fissure between higher levels of establishment became more glaring since the electoral campaigns set off and Ahmadinejad was inundated with charges of law violation.
  The election results, which left Ahmadinejad with an eleven-million margin against his closest rival, Supreme Leader’s call for acknowledging the results and putting an end to the protests plus his support for Ahmadinejad and stating he and the president share more similar ideas –compared with Hashemi Rafsanjani- gave many the idea that sooner or later Hashemi will resign all his positions.
  Days passed while everybody was eager to read a statement by Hashemi in reception or rejection of the elections results. Even one news agency having close times with the government had claimed that it was going to publish Hashemi’s statement in a few minutes. This did not happen however and was denied by Hashemi’s office.
  Even mounting street demonstrations and Musavi and Karrubi’s protests did not provoke Hashemi to show reaction. Some websites reported about his trip to Qom to discuss the situation with religious leaders. News about the gathering of Assembly of Experts and similar reports were so unbelievable that did not even need denials.
  Hashemi however preferred to remain silent and to not let anyone know about his thoughts. It is not a strange thing however. During the recent years Hashemi has seldom expressed direct critical views and has preferred to follow the routine of traditional clergyship and keep a low-profile.
  Some have urged him in various ways to support the Supreme Leader’s speech in Friday prayers. This attempt was not successful either. It was only after some MPs met the casualties of the presidential elections (Musavi, Karrubi, Hashemi and Nategh Nuri) that the Expediency Discernment Council released a statement.
  Hasan Sobhaninia, a member of the team negotiating with Hashemi has quoted him as: "despite the disagreements, Supreme Leader’s opinion counts as the final word for me". Sobhani has also quoted Hashemi that in Musavi’s meeting with head of the judiciary Hashemi Shahrudi, in which Hashemi Rafsanjani was also present, the presidential candidate had asked for a chance to appear on TV and hold demonstrations.
  That’s how Hashemi ended his silence and finally on Saturday morning the Expediency Discernment Council released a statement on presidential elections and the ensuing developments. The statement is so close to official interpretations of Supreme Leader’s speech in which he had asked the unhappy candidates to obey any verdict issued by the Council of Guardians.
  Members of the parliament who have visited Hashemi say that he is going to publish his own stance on the recent developments. It is not clear whether Hashemi is going to let God punish those who have accused him (like the 2005 presidential elections) and continue his job or he is contemplating on another move which will be known by his letter.
  What is clear is that Hashemi’s position after the June elections will substantially differ, whether he adjusts to the new situation or chooses political isolation and stops supporting the protestors.
  Hashemi could –and he still can- turn into a national hero, even after years of partnership of the traditional clergyship and conservatives. No official statement has been released by Hashemi so far, but if thumbs some of yesterday newspapers, he will find out which have covered his letter and which have not. The TV coverage of his letter (it was read as the last domestic news) signals a frustrating reality, as showed his unanswered letter to state-run TV to receive a time in order to answer Ahmadinejad’s accusations.
  More than two weeks have passed since the historical presidential election, and Hashemi has just shown his first reactions. Definitely, the letter which he is going to write will open a new chapter for political alignments in Iran. His turn in the election game has not come yet and the show may find itself a new here. Hashemi can be the new hero, or antihero.

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