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Centrist Figure Calls For Solidarity Between Iran Factions, In Bid To Appease Khamenei

File photo -A meeting of Reformists' high policy making council, during president Hassan Rouhani's first term when some still hoped to tame pro-Khamenei hardliners..
File photo -A meeting of Reformists' high policy making council, during president Hassan Rouhani's first term when some still hoped to tame pro-Khamenei hardliners..

Less than six months before the next parliamentary elections in Iran, a heavyweight pro-reform politician and journalist has reiterated on the necessity of "solidarity between reformists and conservatives" in the ruling elite.

Speaking to the government-owned newspaper, Iran, on Sunday, September 1, Mohammad Atrianfar 66, a leading member of centrist Executives of Construction Party, has maintained that regardless of earlier confrontations between the two camps, they have reached an "unwritten agreement" and a common language “under the guidance” of Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The remarks are reminiscent of the forced confessions Atrianfar made following his arrest and detention after the post-election unrest in 2009.

Atrianfar has compared the members of the two camps to a soccer team that its players have different responsibilities in offense and defense, but at the same time, they move in coordination with each other.

This comes while the reformists and conservatives in Iran can be likened to two opposing team as the two factions have been constantly fighting each other for political gain during the past four decades. Having said that, many anti-regime activists do actually believe the two factions operate like one team, putting up a show of constant bickering.

The former Tehran city councilor's latest comments have once again highlighted the divide in Iran's reform camp in which the Executives of Construction Party, a legacy of former President Akbar Rafsanjani is the closest part of the camp to moderate conservatives such as those in the Rouhani administration.

While former President Mohammad Khatami, generally considered the godfather of the reformists has repeatedly insisted that his followers should actively participate in the February 21 elections and encourage people to go to the ballot boxes, several notable pro-reform figures believe that their involvement should not be unconditional.

Furthermore, Khatami, who was Iran's President from 1997 to 2005, said in a statement on his own media platform, Khatami Media, "Disgruntled voters and reformists should make a sacrifice for Iran and go to the polls to prevent a major threat" to the country's existence.

However, some of the veteran political activists and heavyweight reformists in Iran have begged to differ with Khatami.

"The reformists have never been so divided as they are today," the former caretaker of the Iranian Interior Ministry, Mostafa Tajzadeh, said in a Q&A session held on July 16 at the Unity of Nation Party.

Nevertheless, another reformist heavyweight, Mohsen Safaei Farahani, had earlier cautioned, "Should the situation not change, I would not vote, since I cannot choose between bad and worse, anymore."

According to a reformist faction that Farahani represents, in case the Guardian Council (GC) disqualifies influential reformist nominees, they would boycott the elections.

Now, by praising Ayatollah Khamenei Atrianfar has apparently attempted to appease him and his dominant conservative allies, hoping that the GC will approve the candidacy of certain reformists in the coming elections.

Atrianfar even praises Khamenei for his "influence outside Iran, into Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen," adding that "Iran should provide the expenses of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Atrianfar has even gone further by dismissing one of the main slogans chanted by hundreds of thousands of protesters in late 2017, early 2018 across the country.

The slogan, "No to Gaza, No to Lebanon, I'll sacrifice my life for Iran", Atrianfar has argued, is gibberish.

"While some people in Iran are chanting such a slogan, Ayatollah Khamenei has extended his influence outside Iran, into Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen," Atrianfar has boastfully told Iran daily, reminding, "Iran should provide the expenses of the Lebanese Hezbollah, since the Islamic Republic has been investing in the group for almost four decades.

The Americans spent billions of dollars in Iraq, but it is the Islamic Republic that benefited from it, Atrianfar has asserted.

In August 2009, Atrianfar was one of dozens of reformist activists put on trial for being an alleged conspirator against the regime, following the controversial reelection of the incumbent hardliner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The trial, aired live on state-owned television, showed Atrianfar dressed in prison garb, asking for forgiveness from the Supreme Leader whose "wisdom and alert leadership is guaranteed by nightly secrets between him and God."