Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Jun. 27 – Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday lashed out anew at US President Barack Obama, accusing him of meddling in Iranian affairs and suggesting that Washington's stance on Iran's post-election turmoil could imperil Obama's aim of improving relations.
Tehran, Iran, Jun. 27 – Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday lashed out anew at US President Barack Obama, accusing him of meddling in Iranian affairs and suggesting that Washington's stance on Iran's post-election turmoil could imperil Obama's aim of improving relations.
"We are surprised at Mr. Obama," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in remarks to judiciary officials broadcast on state television. "Didn't he say that he was after change? Why did he interfere?"
"They keep saying that they want to hold talks with Iran … but is this the correct way? Definitely, they have made a mistake", Ahmadinejad said.
Obama was strongly criticized at home and by many abroad, for his initial measured response to opposition allegations that Ahmadinejad was re-elected by fraud in the 12 June balloting and to the harsh crackdown on protesters. The Obama administration wants to improve contacts with Tehran, especially because of concern that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and Obama appeared unwilling to jeopardize that goal with strong statements against Iran's authorities.
But on Friday, he hailed the demonstrators in Iran and condemned the violence against them. "Their bravery in the face of brutality is a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice," Obama said. "The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. In spite of the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it."
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Saturday accused the Group of Eight major powers of adopting a "hasty" position over its 12 June presidential election.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said Tehran regretted the "interfering and hasty position" adopted by the G8 on Friday.
The G8 issued a statement deploring the violence that followed the election. "We express our solidarity with those who have suffered repression while peacefully demonstrating and urge Iran to respect human rights, including freedom of expression", the group said.
Separately, the daily Etemad Melli on Saturday reported Iranian officials had seized documents and computers from a political grouping that had backed former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi in the election.
"Officials inspected the office of Executives of Construction Party in Tehran and took away its documents and computers", the paper said without specifying when this occurred. The ESP, founded in 1995 by technocrats and allies of former president Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, threw its weight behind Mousavi. Several of its members have been jailed in the aftermath of the election, which returned incumbent Ahmadinejad to power amid fraud allegations.
Another defeated presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai on Saturday said he was prepared to join a panel on post-election complaints if the other losers do so too, the state-run news agency ILNA reported.
Up to a million people took part in anti-government rallies in Tehran and other major cities last week, protesting the re-appointment of Ahmadinejad following the election which they believe was rigged. Iran does not allow UN staff to monitor its elections.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) warned on Monday it would unleash its wrath on anyone breaking a government ban on demonstrations. It ordered demonstrators to "end the sabotage and rioting activities" and said their resistance is a "conspiracy" against Iran.
In a statement it warned demonstrators to "be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the IRGC, Bassij and other security forces".
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week rallied behind Ahmadinejad and demanded protestors stop their action. “You will be responsible for your own actions”, he said.
Despite the stern warning, protests erupted in Tehran and other major cities throughout the week, leading to hit and run clashes between protestors and security forces. Since Khamenei’s announcement, demonstrators have markedly directed their protests at the entirety of the clerical establishment, with chants of “death to Khamenei”.
The opposition group People’s Mujahedin says that some 200 people have been killed by security forces in Iran during the violence. Official figures say 17 people have died in the week of unrest, and state television says the Mujahedin have had a hand in the street violence.
In one of the harshest statements from authorities since protests broke out, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a ranking cleric, on Friday said, "Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people is worthy of execution."
Those who disturbed the peace and destroyed public property were "at war with God" and should be "dealt with without mercy", he said in a nationally televised sermon.
Based in part on wire reports