Iran ex-president’s family sues lawmaker

Updated 27 December 2012
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Iran ex-president’s family sues lawmaker

TEHRAN: Four children of an influential ex-Iranian president are suing a radical lawmaker for describing his family as a corrupt “octopus,” heating up a struggle between government supporters and moderates.
The latest salvo has rekindled the bitterness between backers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and moderates headed by the former leader, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, just six months ahead of the next presidential election.
A lawyer filed the complaint for the family in the Special Clergy Court against the lawmaker, Hamid Rasai, an ally of Ahmadinejad. Rasai is also a cleric. “Four children of Ayatollah Rafsanjani have registered their lawsuit against Rasai with the Special Clergy Court. I think Rasai will be summoned to the court within the next 10 days,” said lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.
In a speech broadcast on state radio, Rasai called one of the ex-president’s sons, Mahdi Rafsanjani, a “corrupt monster who has always enjoyed ironclad immunity.”
Rasai urged the judiciary to deal with him harshly, calling Rafsanjani and his relatives an “octopus family” that pressured judiciary and security bodies to free Mahdi.
Mahdi Rafsanjani was released from Evin prison on bail earlier this month. Authorities arrested him in late September, a day after he returned to Iran from Britain, on charges of fomenting unrest in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election. He has not been put on trial.
Rafsanjani’s youngest daughter, Faezeh, is serving a six-month sentence on charges of distributing propaganda against Iran’s ruling system. Since Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009, Rafsanjani’s family has come under pressure from hard-liners. Rafsanjani supported Ahmadinejad’s reformist challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Many analysts believe Ahmadinejad won the 2009 vote partly because he portrayed himself as a champion of the poor and called Rafsanjani a symbol of aristocracy. He also called Mousavi a protege of Rafsanjani. In recent months, there are indications that the 78-year-old Rafsanjani, who favors a more moderate approach to the West, might try to make a political comeback.
Iran’s judiciary rejected Rasai’s statements, calling a large part of his remarks “sheer lies.” In a statement, it said Rasai’s remarks were “criminal” and must be dealt with by the court.
Several lawmakers responded yesterday, claiming Rasai had Parliamentary immunity. In the past, the judiciary has imprisoned lawmakers for making accusations against individuals who had not been convicted in court, saying parliamentary immunity doesn’t allow a lawmaker to terrorize an innocent citizen. Rafsanjani’s family provided a written response to Rasai, which was posted on Rafsanjani’s website yesterday. “It is expected that the respected Special Clergy Court, should it finds these remarks a kind of encroachment on the position of others, will take legal action ... because no one has the right to attribute crimes to a defendant,” the family said in its letter.


Turkey, Russia discussing Idlib airspace control: Sources

Updated 23 September 2018
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Turkey, Russia discussing Idlib airspace control: Sources

  • Turkey has set up observation posts in Idlib in a bid to prevent clashes between rebels and government forces
  • After a meeting on Sept. 17 between Putin and Erdogan, agreed to create a de-militarized zone in Idlib by Oct. 15

ANKARA: The partial transfer of control of the airspace over the de-escalation zone in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib from Moscow to Ankara is being discussed by the two sides, Russian sources said. 

The aim is to enable Turkey to conduct an aerial campaign against Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which Ankara recently designated a terrorist organization. 

A former Al-Qaeda affiliate, HTS is the strongest armed group in Idlib, the last stronghold of Syrian anti-government rebels. 

In February, HTS claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian warplane in Idlib using a surface-to-air missile.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are monitoring the de-escalation zone in the province as part of a trilateral agreement. 

Turkey has set up observation posts in Idlib in a bid to prevent clashes between rebels and government forces.

“Discussions are ongoing about the details of this transfer (of airspace control). I guess it will be limited to the buffer zone in Idlib for now,” Yury Barmin, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, told Arab News.

“If Russia is taking steps to allow Turkey to use Idlib’s airspace, it will give Turkey more room for maneuver in the region.”

But airstrikes by Ankara against HTS might create another refugee influx into Turkey, which already hosts more than 3 million Syrian refugees, Barmin said. 

Idlib is home to more than 1 million displaced Syrians, and its population exceeds 3 million. Turkey is concerned that the creation of a humanitarian crisis near its border would further swell its own refugee population. 

After a meeting on Sept. 17 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two countries agreed to create a de-militarized zone in Idlib by Oct. 15.

The deal requires that all radical groups, including HTS, withdraw from the area and that all heavy weapons be removed.

Russian and Turkish troops will conduct coordinated patrols to ensure that all armed groups respect the deal.

Emre Ersen, a Syria analyst at Marmara University in Istanbul, said a transfer of airspace control would mean that Ankara and Moscow are determined to implement their latest agreement regarding Idlib. 

“Until now, Idlib’s airspace has been fully controlled by Russia, which weakened Turkey’s hand in trying to convince rebel groups in the region to abandon their arms,” he told Arab News.

Transferring airspace control “would give Ankara additional diplomatic leverage in its dealings with HTS,” he said. 

“If Ankara fails to persuade HTS to comply with the Putin-Erdogan deal regarding Idlib, it’s almost certain that Russia and Syrian government forces will start a military operation in the region.”

So Turkey is sending a message to HTS that if carrots do not work, it has some sticks at its disposal, Ersen said.