October 3, 2006


Iran: Khomeini's 'killer poison' returns (Kaveh L Afrasiabi, 10/04, Asia Times)

Former Iranian president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has Ahmadinejad defeated Rafsanjani in the latter's 2005 re-election published a confidential letter by the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which has stirred a great deal of controversy in Iran, in part because the letter refers to a military commander's call to pursue nuclear weapons to be deployed against Iran's hostile neighbor, Iraq.

The letter's significance, and the critical timing of its disclosure, cannot be overstated. Until now, there had been no official voices in favor of nuclear proliferation and plenty of opposite declarations led by Khomeini's successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has issued a religious decree, a fatwa, against it. [...]

"You my dear ones know that this decision [ceasefire] has been like a killer poison, but I have endured it in the path of God and for the sake of dignity of Islam and the protection of our Islamic Republic," Khomeini's letter reads in part. The office in charge of Khomeini's texts has openly objected to Rafsanjani's publication of the letter without prior permission by the office. And there has been a spate of commentaries, both pro and against, in the nation's dailies and on the Internet.

From the vantage point of Rafsanjani and his pragmatic moderate camp, Khomeini's letter is a timely reminder of the 1979 revolution's founding father's political wisdom in setting a precedent for principled compromises and flexibilities for the sake of what Khomeini and other religious leaders such as Jamal al-din Assadabadi called hobbe vatan, love of the country.

Does the same principle now call for a similar compromise with regard to the nuclear crisis? Rafsanjani and his circle of policymakers, which includes the former chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, appear to think so, as they have been openly critical of the hard line adopted by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his foreign-policy team.

To insist on a harder line than Khomeini is to raise yourself above him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 3, 2006 2:23 PM
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