As an $11 billion oil theft scandal unfolds at the seniormost levels of the Islamic Republic, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said that any official criticism of the government, even if legitimate, must be kept secret lest it fuel public opposition.
Combined with increased levels of repression and censorship, Khamenei’s comments are a signal that the Iranian leadership is aware of its own fragmentation and fragility, and is vulnerable to the type of people’s revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
In his first trip to Mashad in the new Iranian year on March 21, Khamenei declared:
“Although officials may have complaints about each other, and these complaints may even be legitimate, they should not state them publicly as this will be a blow to national unity.”
Tensions are escalating between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the majlis “parliament” over major financial misappropriations, including $11 billion dollars of oil revenues that are “missing.”
Rather than confront the issue, Khamenei dismissed the disappeared $11 billion and called them “minor issues that are of no importance and can be resolved by talking.”
Public disclosure of such criticism, he said, will “upset and disappoint the public.”
As for Iran’s youthful protesters, the Supreme Leader described them as “weak and lowly people who were subjected to carnal desires” and who are trying to implement America’s plan’s for a regime change in Iran.
Khamenei commented on President Barack Obama’s Nowruz speech to Iran’s youth, saying that the American leader “does not understand and is unaware and dazed.”
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who has been torn between the reform-oriented Green Movement and the regime and was recently forced to resign as head of the Council of Experts, said in his Nowruz address that inner conflicts have spread beyond reformers and have struck at the heart of the Islamic Republic.
Rafsanjani said, “inner conflicts have become serious and are no longer limited to conservatives and reformists.” He added public distrust of Islamic Republic officials spreads from “the spread of the vile habits such as lies, accusations, unfounded claims, empty promises, waste of money and nonsensical words” from those officials themselves.
“Our enemies are truly waiting in ambush,” Rafsanjani said. “Unfortunately they are fully aware of the extent of our inner conflicts and the reasons behind them. It is now clear to them that these conflicts have become serious and are no longer limited to conservatives and reformists. Unfortunately other branches have sprung up as well.”
Rafsanjani added that the country was in desperate need of unity and that all officials should limit their criticisms to an extent that does not harm the regime.
Original sources for this article will appear shortly.