Iran’s President Cancels Turkey Trip, Elections Scheduled
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad cancelled a scheduled trip to Turkey 12/17, citing a scheduling conflict. With Turkey calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and Iran remaining a vocal ally of the Syrian regime, the cancellation comes at a time when relations between the two nations are strained. When Turkey announced it would allow NATO troops to man Patriot missile systems on its border with Syria, Iran warned that the systems should be dismantled and taken away “before a fire breaks out.” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davultaglu responded, saying Iran should tell the Syrian government to stop oppressing its own people, instead of provoking Turkey.
Iran’s interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, announced that presidential elections have been scheduled for June 14, 2013. Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, a highly-regarded academic running on a platform of “promoting peace and reconciliation between all opposition political factions…and ending hostilities with the United States, Great Britain, and others,” announced his intentions to run for President in the 2013 elections. Mohammad Reza Aref, another potential reformist candidate for the presidency, said Iran’s political climate is in need of “moderation” and “moderate” forces.
State media in Tehran announced the release of Mahdi Hashemi, son of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, after he completed a two months jail sentence in solitary confinement, based on charges of acting against the regime and corruption. Many analysts believe the arrest of Hashemi and his sister Faezeh Hashemi, who is currently serving a six-month jail term for spreading anti-state propaganda, was intended to serve as a warning to Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani had been accused of inciting post-election protests in 2009 after backing a reformist challenger to Ahmadinejad.