Ahmadinejad blames West for fomenting Iran unrest

The Iranian president's accusations come as opposition leaders start movement, challenge Supreme Leader's standing.

Raheb Homavandi/ Reuters
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks to members of parliament during his swearing-in ceremony in Tehran August 5.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of attempting to foment the overthrow of the Iranian government on Sunday, even as Iranian reformers launched new critiques of the Iranian government and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reuters reports that Mr. Ahmadinejad warned that the West that it would be "held accountable" for what he claims was its role in the unrest after Iranian's disputed elections.

"This time you clearly interfered in Iran's domestic affairs and you thought you would be able to harm the Islamic nation," the official IRNA news agency quoted [Amhadinejad] as saying on Sunday. "You should be held accountable for your actions but we know very well the fuss you created in the world is not a sign of your authority but rather it is a sign of your weakness and downfall," Ahmadinejad said. Tehran and the West are already at odds over Tehran's nuclear work, which Washington fears is aimed at making bombs but which Iran, the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, says is for peaceful electricity generation.

Iran has repeatedly accused Britain and the United States of attempting to incite an overthrow of the Iranian government in the aftermath of the Iranian elections. Both countries deny the charges. The Christian Science Monitor reported Friday that despite the belief of many in the West that such accusations are merely political rhetoric, Iran's political hardliners do appear to believe that Western nations are actively seeking to start a 'velvet revolution' in Iran.

Exhibit A: The indictment against roughly 100 journalists, politicians, academics, and clerics accused of treason who are undergoing a mass show trial. The three-page document, recently translated by Evan Siegel on his blog Iran Rises, opens a window into the world view of the Iranian hardliners who fear change most. "The most important point which must be noted concerning a velvet coup is that the theoreticians bought by the West's spy and intelligence services have developed this method at the orders of their commanders to get World Arrogance out of its practical dead end by overthrowing independent systems or systems which are not in alignment with the West's hegemony and lust for domination," explains Iranian prosecutor Abdor-Reza Mojtaba in the indictment.

The indictment goes on to accuse the CIA, Israeli intelligence assets, the philanthropist George Soros, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and the German Council on Foreign Relations of plotting to overthrow Iran's government. Such beliefs in the Iranian theocracy seem to be shaping the Iranian opposition's plans to move forward.

Opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi announced Saturday on his website that he was starting a "grass-roots and social network" in promotion of democracy, reports The New York Times, but he specifically supported Iranian institutions that have long been targets of Western criticism, such as the Revolutionary Guards.

In his announcement, Mr. Moussavi countered efforts to portray him as a tool of secular foreigners, affirming his support for institutions like the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia, despite the fact that they are widely believed to be in charge of the current crackdown. But he also lashed out at the recent threats aimed at him and his supporters, saying, "Instead of accusing this millions-strong group, you should look to those who have created a poisonous propaganda war that served the interests of the enemy."

Mr. Moussavi's announcement comes a day after a group of former reformist lawmakers sent an "unprecedented" letter to the Assembly of Experts, challenging the authority of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to hold the role of Supreme Leader, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Assembly of Experts is the body that has the power to name the Supreme Leader, and to remove him from power.

The letter states that according to Iran's constitution, the supreme leader isn't above the law and that the assembly has the right to review his performance as a religious and political leader. "We demand a legal probe on the basis of Article 111 of the Constitution, which is a responsibility of the Experts Assembly," stated the letter, which was written by the head of the organization of former reformist lawmakers. Article 111 says if the supreme leader "becomes incapable of fulfilling his constitutional duties," he will be dismissed. ... Criticizing the supreme leader was once unthinkable, and had serious repercussions. Now, demonstrators regularly chant slurs against Mr. Khamenei and write insults about him in green spray paint on walls in the capital.

The Journal notes that while it is unlikely that the Assembly of Experts will respond to the letter, the letter signals that "the reform movement has become more radical and is placing itself squarely against the regime and its top authority."

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