Iran's former president: Khamenei erasing elections

Exiled Bani-Sadr: Republic is erasing itself in the face of the Leader whose only goal is to cement his own power.

June 12, 2013 09:35
3 minute read.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 311 (R). (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


VERSAILLES - Exiled former Iranian president Abolhassan Bani-Sadr accused Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday of using this week's presidential election to weaken the office and cement his own power.

Bani-Sadr, a sworn opponent of Tehran's clerical rulers ever since being driven from office and fleeing in 1981, told Reuters in an interview that the six remaining candidates in Friday's poll were separated by only shades of difference on policy.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

"Any one of these men picked by Khamenei will execute his orders," the 80-year-old said in an interview in his house near Paris, where he has been exiled since 1981.

"The Republic is erasing itself in the face of the Leader."

Most key Iranian policies that concern the world, such as an uranium enrichment program that has prompted international economic sanctions, and Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in his war with rebels, are decided by Khamenei.

Although the Iranian president generally runs domestic affairs, especially the economy of the oil producer, and is Iran's highest-ranking public face, outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been increasingly at loggerheads with Khamenei in his second term, and begun to seem like a marginal figure.

Bani-Sadr said all his potential successors had shown in pre-election debates that they were out of touch with the economic difficulties of ordinary Iranians.

"The presidency is finished. Even under (ex-president) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Republic resisted. He had a say, but that's over. They dare not say that we have reached an impasse," said Bani-Sadr, a veteran of the protest movement of the 1970s that overthrew Iran's shah.


He said the main significance of the election would be in signalling to the United States which direction Iran wished to pursue in the long-running and so far fruitless negotiations with major powers on its nuclear programme. Western powers fear Iran may be trying to develop the capacity to build atomic weapons, but Iran says the programme is entirely peaceful.

Khamenei has not publicly endorsed any candidate, and insists he has only one vote.

Bani-Sadr said the Iranian people were fully aware that the election meant very little, but that Western sanctions and the veiled threat of war to prevent it acquiring nuclear weapons had helped to strengthen Khamenei's hand.

"His strategy is to see how much fear can paralyse the people," Bani-Sadr said. "These elections are telling them that there is the choice of the ballot box or hell," he said, pointing to the conflicts in Afghanistan to the east, Iraq to the west, and in Syria.

Bani-Sadr accompanied revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini home from exile in 1979 and was elected president in 1980, only to be impeached by parliament the following year.

Ever since Khomeini, he said there had been a drive to create a "Shi'ite belt" taking in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to span a large part of the Muslim world.

"That way, it (Iran) ... can play a role as a guide to the Muslim world," Bani-Sadr said.

That policy had already cost Iran dear during its eight-year war with Iraq's Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, and subsequently in its support for the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, and for Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ism.

"A good portion of the regime's weakness is down to these crises, and (the desire) to have that belt at all costs," he said. "Khamenei wants to help Assad at all costs."

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

ROJAVA PESHMERGA troops guard a road in northern Iraq in December 2015.
December 18, 2018
Rojava Peshmerga – the group may be the US’s ticket out of Syria crisis