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Viewing cable 09RPODUBAI389, IRAN: CLERICAL CONFAB STIFFS RAFSANJANI FOR SUPREME LEADER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09RPODUBAI389 2009-09-24 14:02 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Iran RPO Dubai
VZCZCXRO3466
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDIR #0389/01 2671420
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241420Z SEP 09
FM RPO DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0543
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/USCENTCOM TELECOM CENTER MACDILL AFB FL
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0426
RUEHDIR/RPO DUBAI 0544
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RPO DUBAI 000389 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  9/24/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV IR
SUBJECT: IRAN: CLERICAL CONFAB STIFFS RAFSANJANI FOR SUPREME LEADER 
 
REF: RPO DUBAI 384 
 
DUBAI 00000389  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Alan Eyer, Director, Iran Regional Presence 
Office, DOS. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Oppositionist hopes that Iran's clerical class 
would mobilize to oppose Supreme Leader Khamenei's post-election 
policies appear sharply diminished in the wake of the first 
Assembly of Experts meeting since the June 12 Presidential 
election. Not only did the Assembly, which has the power to 
appoint, supervise and dismiss the Supreme Leader, give a 
ringing endorsement of Khamenei's rule and his handling of the 
post-election crisis, it did so in the conspicuous absence of 
its Chair, Ayatollah Rafsanjani.  Moreover, leaks of the 
closed-door proceedings to the conservative press indicate that 
at least two prominent members of this clerical deliberative 
body excoriated Rafsanjani for his failure to support Khamenei 
during the unrest.  Despite his absence at the closure of the 
Assembly of Experts meeting, Rafsanjani was compelled to 
publicly endorse the closing statement while seated at the knee 
of the Supreme Leader during a September 24 press conference. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
 
 
Assembly of Experts: A 'Deliberative' Body 
 
 
 
2 (C) The Majles-e Khobregan, or Assembly of Experts (AOE), is a 
Constitutionally-mandated deliberative body composed of 86 
directly-elected senior clerics from across the country.  By 
law, the Assembly must meet for a minimum of two days twice a 
year.  Though theoretically vested with the power to appoint, 
supervise and dismiss the Supreme Leader, in practical terms the 
Assembly's only real responsibility is to appoint the Supreme 
Leader's successor should he die or become incapacitated.  As 
such, the AOE's last noteworthy act was appointing current 
Supreme Leader Khamenei after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1989 
death.  Every subsequent meeting has ended with the issuance of 
a perfunctory statement lauding the Assembly's decision to 
appoint Khamenei and praising his leadership. Nevertheless, 
according to Article 111 of the Constitution, the Assembly can 
find Khamenei unfit for office; accordingly, control of the AOE 
remains a (potential) check on the Supreme Leader's otherwise 
unbridled power. 
 
 
 
3. (C) The Assembly is currently chaired by Ayatollah Ali Akbar 
Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was re-elected to the two-year term of 
Speaker in March 2009.  At the time of his re-election, he 
garnered 51 votes, an improvement over the 46 votes he received 
in 2007, despite efforts by hardline conservative clerics, led 
by Ayatollahs Mesbah-Yazdi and Ibrahim Yazdi, to unseat him. 
 
 
 
First Meeting since the Election 
 
 
 
4. (C) On September 22-23 the AOE convened for the first time 
since Iran's disputed June 12 election.  Rafsanjani opened the 
sixth official meeting of this Fourth Assembly of Experts by 
again cautioning that a "suspicious faction" is trying to create 
rifts among Iran's leaders and by condemning the "atmosphere of 
insults and dispute" that has prevailed since the June 
presidential election.  He also promised that "system insiders 
of good will" are developing a plan to resolve Iran's domestic 
political problems. His opening statement was followed by 
reports to the body by Judiciary deputy Mohsen Ejei 
(Intelligence Minister during the presidential election and its 
aftermath) and Revolutionary Guards Commander Jaafari. 
According to press reports, at least sixteen Assembly members 
spoke. 
 
 
 
5. (C) Though summaries of the closed-door proceedings released 
by Rafsanjani's office did not reflect any discord among the 
members and indeed indicated the body's support of him, 
conservative Iranian press charged Rafsanjani's office with 
'censoring' coverage of the proceeding, reporting that at least 
two prominent members sharply criticized Rafsanjani for failing 
to support the Supreme Leader after the disputed election.  One 
quotation prominently featured in conservative news outlets was 
Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah al-Hoda rhetorically 
asking Rafsanjani, "why after twenty years, have you remained 
silent in the face of these unprecedented insults (to the 
Supreme Leader)?" 
 
DUBAI 00000389  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
 
 
 
6. (C) More tellingly, Rafsanjani did not attend the second and 
final day of the meeting, with recently retired former Judiciary 
Head Ayatollah Shahrudi chairing in his absence. Hardline 
conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (the same cleric who 
replaced Rafsanjani as Qods Day prayer leader - reftel) read the 
Assembly's final statement, which was an unqualified if not 
fawning endorsement of the Supreme Leader himself and his "wise 
policies" for quickly extinguishing the post-election "flames of 
sedition."  Khatami noted that Rafsanjani, despite his absence, 
agreed with "every point" of the final statement, which also 
credited Khamenei for dismissing the fraud allegations as part 
of a plot to undermine the Islamic Republic.  The final 
statement was also noteworthy in its perfunctory congratulations 
to President Ahmadinejad for his election victory, and its more 
sincere admonishment of Ahmadinejad to scrupulously follow 
Supreme Leader Khamenei's guidance. 
 
 
 
7. (C) COMMENT: Following the disputed June 12 presidential 
election, many speculated that the axis of a Rafsanjani 
counter-attack would focus on rallying clerical support to his 
cause. However, the rumored AOE "emergency session" never 
convened, and absent such a meeting it remained unclear how much 
support Rafsanjani had among this body that reflects the 
political leanings of Iran's traditional senior clergy.  Now 
that the AOE has met, it is clear that the clerical cavalry 
isn't coming over the horizon anytime soon.  Furthermore, the 
AOE final statement, seen in conjunction with the removal of 
Rafsanjani as Qods Day Speaker (reftel), indicates in the 
clearest terms yet that in the most severe crisis of his career, 
Rafsanjani is unable to mobilize his once vast and influential 
patronage network to achieve his political ends.  And given that 
Rafsanjani's presumed power is serving as at least a partial 
deterrent to further regime moves against Mousavi, Karrubi and 
Khatami, the results of this two-day AOE session bode ill for 
the leadership of the oppositionist "Green Path of Hope."  END 
COMMENT. 
EYRE