The Iranian Parliament became a forum for character bashing at the highest echelons on Sunday as two of the country’s leading politicians let their private antipathy for one other go glaringly public in one of the greatest shows of internal disorder in the history of the regime, Arab dailies report.
“Iran: Ahmadinejad and Larijani exchange accusations in heated parliamentary session,” reads the headline in the Saudi-owned London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. During a session of parliament, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a tape recording of a voice that sounded like Fazel Larijani — the brother of his rival Iranian Parliament Chairman Ali Larijani and the head of the judiciary, Sadeq Larijani — demanding bribes from one Saeed Mortazavi in exchange for political support from him and his brother.
Mortazavi is Iran’s deputy prosecutor-general and a close confidant of Ahmadinejad’s. He is facing a judicial investigation and impeachment for his alleged role in the killings of protesters who were arrested during the demonstrations that followed Ahmadinejad’s re-election as president in 2009. Ahmadinejad believed that playing the recorded conversation would help exonerate Mortazavi and expose the entire Larijani family as a group of corrupt conspirators.
Ali Larijani is considered a front-runner to replace Ahmadinejad as president of Iran in this June’s national elections. Under his chairmanship, parliament has proved exceedingly obstructive to Ahmadinejad and his initiatives. Just this past Sunday, parliament voted to strip Labor Minister Abdolreza Sheikholeslami of his duties over his decision to promote Mortazavi to a new position within the government.
According to another report in the Doha-based media network Al-Jazeera, the tape Ahmadinejad played was mostly inaudible and, in order to prove his point to parliament, he was forced to read a summary of the transmission aloud. This, in turn, gave Ali Larijani a platform to launch an attack of his own against the president.
After denying that the tape recording had any connection to his brother or anyone else in his family, Larijani said, “Ahmadinejad depends on the help of the mafia. He does not respect any form of morality.” He went on to accuse the president of unleashing what he called a hoax because of his refusal to stop the dismissal of the labor minister.
The Cairo-based Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that Ahmadinejad, then on the defensive, said in response that “Larijani hinders the work of the government by rescinding decrees already decided on by the ministers.”
‘Israel will be knocked into a coma’
As Syria continues to try to muster a response to last week’s alleged aerial assault by the Israeli Air Force, Iranian representatives are promising that whatever Syrian President Bashar Assad decides, “it will knock Israel into a coma.”
Whatever Syrian President Bashar Assad decides, ‘it will knock Israel into a coma’
Israeli leaders, however, remain unfazed by such blusterous statements. The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi asserts that Iran’s huffing and puffing may be the result of fear over reports that the Israeli military is planning on establishing a buffer zone 16 kilometers into Syrian territory to prevent Syrian rebels from launching attacks on the Golan Heights.
Iran maintains a center for intelligence gathering merely 11 kilometers from the Israeli border that would likely be captured in an Israeli assault. A-Sharq Al-Awsat quotes an a report in the Israeli daily Maariv that the establishment of the security zone would be in cooperation with local villages on the Syrian side and that Israel would try to avoid having a huge military presence there.
The London-based Al-Hayat quotes an Israeli military source who says that “the IDF Northern Command has a plan which assumes that Assad will not longer be the president of Syria. There is a fear of seeing terrorist elements seeking to approach the security fence. . . The buffer zone will allow us to see them coming.”