Iran’s former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lambasted the ongoing political deadlock in the country in two strongly worded letters to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ahmadinejad warned that “Public dissatisfaction with the regime’s performance is serious and extremely high” and quickly engulfing the Islamic Revolution itself.
In the letters published on his mouthpiece Dolat-e Bahar website, Ahmadinejad demanded structural reforms in institutions such as the conservative-led Guardian Council and the Judiciary; called for putting an end to the rule of parallel institutions and urged to establish a constitutional court and ban the armed forces from intervening in political and economic activities.
The letters, dated February 19 and March 13, were published on the website following the arrest of two of Ahmadinejad’s closest aides, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, and Hamid Baqai.
Ahmadinejad wrote these letters after Khamenei accused him in February of “doing what the enemy would have done” in Iran.
The majority of Iranians demand essential changes. Some even want change through radical and violent measures, while others follow other ways to bring about change, fearing that the country and its people might suffer even more if Iran’s fate becomes like some other regional states - Ahmadinejad
Khamenei made the comment as a reaction to defiant statements by Ahmadinejad and his close aides. Khamenei added that “Those who have been in power for eight years cannot play the role of the opposition.”
“You have suggested both explicitly and implicitly that I am not allowed to talk about the country’s fundamental problems,” responded Ahmadinejad in his February 19 letter, asking “Shouldn’t others also keep silent?”
Ahmadinejad warned elsewhere in the letter “Every single case of injustice exercised by the government in Iran can lead to the collapse of a big empire.”
He said, “The majority of Iranians demand essential changes. Some even want change through radical and violent measures, while others follow other ways to bring about change, fearing that the country and its people might suffer even more if Iran’s fate becomes like some other regional states,” insisting, “Obviously, the best practice would be conducting essential reforms from within the system.”
Ahmadinejad wrote these letters after widespread protests in December and January, during which protesters chanted slogans against all state officials, some demanding regime change and return of monarchy.
Ahmadinejad criticized the country’s “security atmosphere” and “structural problems that have led to accumulated public grievances.”
“No trace of political freedom has remained after four decades as the government and its security agents rule people’s cultural, social and economic lives,” said Ahmadinejad in the February 19 letter, adding that “An intelligence Ministry agent or one from the IRGC Intelligence or the Judiciary can ruin the life of any cultural, social or economic activist and the victim cannot do anything about it.”
No trace of political freedom has remained after four decades as the government and its security agents rule people’s cultural, social and economic lives - Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad made the comment while similar events took place frequently during his own term of office as President after his disputed re-election in 2009.
In the letter Ahmadinejad also criticized “most senior officials” for their “economic activities,” as well as “the engineering of elections by the Guardian Council, lack of supervision on the Judiciary, parallel authorities, and increasing intervention in people’s private lives.”
Ahmadinejad also mentioned that financial institutions under Khamenei’s supervision run businesses worth 700 thousand billion tumans, but the public is kept unaware of their activities and income and where and how that income is spent.
He also called for an end to economic activities of the military and criticized the chaos in cultural institutions under Khamenei’s supervision.
In 2011, Ahmadinejad had charged that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was involved in smuggling, calling IRGC commanders “our smuggler brothers.” IRGC Commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari ruled out the accusation at the time.
Many economic and development projects in Iran in the area of energy, telecommunications, roads and dam construction are handed over to IRGC without tender bids that could give a chance to IRGC’s competitors in the private sector.
In recent years, the IRGC has criticized the Rouhani administration for not giving it major oil and ship building projects.
Last June, Rouhani criticized IRGC for its economic activity, calling it a parallel “government that carries guns.”
Disgruntled IRGC commanders subsequently accused Rouhani of attempting to weaken IRGC.
One week before his March 13 letter to Khamenei, Ahmadinejad had criticized “the closed circle of Iranian leadership,” in a strongly worded commentary on his website Dolat-e Bahar on March 7, adding that the closed circle has reached “the last act of the show,” and “the powerful hand of the nation will break this rigid circle.” That was the harshest tone and language Ahmadinejad had used in a series of defiant remarks since his disqualification in the latest Iranian presidential race in May 2017.
While similar comments by anyone else could have landed him in jail, some observers say Khamenei is not willing to have Ahmadinejad arrested because it would mean that the “infallible” supreme leader made a mistake by endorsing him in the first place at the price of alienating his long-time allies such as former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.