Hardline news outlets have laid into ex-Iranian prime ministerMir Hossein Mousavi after he accused Iran’s ruling elite of conspiring to create a hereditary leadership model.
In comments published by the news website Kaleme on Tuesday, Mousavi, who was placed under house arrest more than a decade ago, demanded to know: “Have the dynasties of the past 2,500 years come back, that a son can rule after his father?”
The text shared by Kaleme formed part of Mousavi’s introduction to a new, Arabic translation of collected statements from the 2009 pro-democracy Green Movement.
Mousavi was referring to the large number of unofficial reports in recent years that indicate Mojtaba Khamenei, the second son of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, expects and is being lined up to take over from his 83-year-old father.
In his message, Mousavi claimed such a scheme had been in the making for “13 years”, adding: “If theye’re not really looking to do this, why have they never once denied such an intention?”
Mousavi stood as the reformist candidate against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election and became leader of the opposition in the post-election unrest.
In that same period, Mojtaba Khamenei was accused by international media of having engineered the win for Ahmadinejad – and of spearheading the clampdown on the protests that ensued through direct control of street militias and the Basij.
The remarks drew the ire of regime loyalist media outlets, with both the ultraconservative daily Kayhan – whose editor-in-chief is directly appointed by Ali Khamenei – and the IRGC-aligned Tasnim News Agency and Javan attacking Mousavi’s character and politics.
A front-page article in Kayhan on Wednesday described Mousavi as “one of the leaders of fitna [internal disorder] in open support of Israel and ISIS”, and separately as “delusional”, “absurd and embarrassing”..
The “ISIS” remarks referred to Mousavi’s criticism of Hossein Hamedani, an IRGC commander in Syria who died in 2015. In the same preface, Mousavi had said Hamedani’s death in 2015 was “a lesson for survivors” not to blindly follow “autocratic demands”.
Kayhan’s article went on to claim the text “indicates the existence of behind-the-scenes actors who want to use seditionists as a tool, to make them trumpets of ISIS and Israel for internal change, to radicalize the domestic political environment, and reignite the deep disillusionment that has spread in the social body of radical reformists.”
A news item on Tasnim News Agency on Wednesday also called Mousavi a “simple-minded seditionist” and referred to his article as "a sign of a complete and boundless collapse."
It called on prominent reformists, especially ex-president Mohammad Khatami, to intervene and distance themselves from the comments.
The conservative newspaper Javan took a similar position. An editorial published on Wednesday declared: “With this statement, Mousavi removed yet another mask from his face.
“One day, the mask of synergy with the Baha'i, hypocrite and monarchist counter-revolution, one day the mask of solidarity with those that call for death to Velayat-e Faqih, and today, the mask of companionship with the fundamentalist terrorists of ISIS and their thousands of followers from America, to ensure the security of Israel.”
None of the three news outlets addressed the point Mousavi had made about Iran’s leadership.