Skip to main content

Iran MP criticizes body that supervises supreme leader

Iranian conservative parliament member Ali Motahari has criticized the Assembly of Experts and continued house arrest without trial of the Green Movement leaders.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari speaks in the Iranian parliament in Tehran November 15, 2009. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN POLITICS) - RTXQRB3

Outspoken conservative member of the Iranian Parliament Ali Motahari has once again stirred controversy by criticizing the near four-year house arrest of the 2009 Green Movement leaders and questioning the function of the body meant to supervise and elect Iran's supreme leader.

During a speech at Ferdowsi University in the city of Mashhad Nov. 26, Motahari said, “The prime responsibility of the Assembly of Experts is to supervise the performance of the supreme leader and his subsidiaries. Until now, they have not done this and will not do it. They get involved with any issue other than the job they are supposed to do.”

Motahari continued, “Have they ever discussed a subsidiary of the institution of the supreme leader? For instance, the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam [Setad] has been turned into an economic cartel — they build towers. Has this been investigated?”

Motahari said that the Assembly of Experts cannot limit itself to choosing the supreme leader but also has to “research and investigate” institutions that operate under him. Setad, which operates under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was originally established to manage the properties and assets of individuals connected to the monarchy who either left Iran after the revolution or whose property was confiscated. Today, Setad is a large government conglomerate with various holdings.

Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, a member of the Assembly of Experts, responded to Motahari’s criticism with the ambiguous claim that “The Assembly of Experts is not the supervisor of the supreme leader’s performance but is responsible for checking and verifying his leadership qualifications.”

Alamolhoda, who is 15 years older than the 56-year-old Motahari, added that when he used to visit Motahari’s father, the late Ayatollah Morteza Motahari, Motahari “was a school child.”

During his speech at the university, Motahari once again criticized the house arrest without trial of 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi. He said that when Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib called for the Green Movement leaders to speak openly and present their complaints of voter fraud from the 2009 elections, his religious centers were attacked and he was personally criticized.

In the audio file, a member in the audience interrupts Motahari and said that Ayatollah Khamenei himself invited Mousavi and Karroubi to speak to officials about their complaints. Motahari responded that private meetings “have no use. They should come on tv and speak.”

Motahari reiterated a previous statement in which he asked Ayatollah Khamenei about the issue of the house arrests, Khamenei said that the crimes of Mousavi and Karroubi are serious and if they are tried, their verdict will be severe. Therefore, their house arrests are a “favor.” Motahari said that he was “not satisfied” with the supreme leader’s answer and feels that the continued house arrest without trial is “unjust” and that the detainees should have the right to defend themselves in court.

The 2009 election is known as “the sedition” to many of Iran’s conservatives and continues to be used as a means to sideline figures who supported or expressed sympathy with the protests or the Reformist candidates.

Motahari is one of the few conservatives to call for a trial of the Green Movement leaders. Karroubi himself has requested one as well.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

The Middle East in your inbox Insights in your inbox.

Deepen your knowledge of the Middle East

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial