Jailing of Rafsanjani's Daughter Stirs Talk of His Return to Politics

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The daughter of former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani has begun serving a six-month prison sentence. Mohammad Sedkian writes that many see Faezeh Rasfanjani’s detention — and the imminent return of her brother to face similar charges — as part of a plan for their father's political return and perhaps a run in next year’s presidential election.

Faezeh Rafsanjani, daughter of the chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, Hashemi Rafsanjani, has started serving a six-month prison sentence after being found guilty of disseminating “propaganda against the regime” following her participation in protests against the results of the 2009 presidential elections.

However, Iranian political circles have chalked up Rafsanjani’s incarceration — and her brother Mehdi’s imminent return to the country to face similar charges — to a broader plan by Hashemi Rafsanjani to return to political life and probably to run for presidential elections, scheduled for next year.

Gholam Hossein Esmaeli, head of Iran’s prisons organization, announced that Faezeh Rafsanjani was being held in Tehran in the special wing for prisoners charged with security-related offenses at Evin Prison.

The revolutionary court of Tehran last year issued a six-month sentence to Faezeh on charges of spreading propaganda against the regime and banned her from taking part in any social or media activity for the next five years.

In June 2009, Faezeh was arrested with two of her daughters and her uncle’s wife in a protest supporting the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. However, the authorities released all of them in less than 48 hours.

Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, who lives in London after he left Iran three years ago, is facing similar charges. However, his lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabai said he expects that his client will soon return to Iran, since he was scheduled to arrive at Tehran airport on Saturday [Sept. 29], where university students had gathered to demand his arrest and trial. Judicial sources said they intend to arrest Mehdi Hashemi upon his arrival to the airport.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani did not make any comment regarding the arrest of his daughter. However, political circles believe that Faezeh’s incarceration and Medhi’s imminent return to turn himself in are an attempt to close court cases filed against the daughter and son of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is currently chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council.

Political circles said that the regime may push Rafsanjani to run for president next year so that he may solve several important internal and external issues that have resulted from the imposition of Western sanctions on Iran. This comes now that “Iran needs a new rhetoric that can deal with the West,” according to the circles.

Sources believe that Rafsanjani’s ties with the reformers and his place in the conservative movement enables him to manage the country, especially after he was seen beside Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other top officials at the opening ceremony of the Non-Aligned Movement summit, which was held in Tehran last month.

In other news, Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) threatened to launch a “pre-emptive attack” against Israel, in case the latter prepares for a strike against Tehran.

Moreover, Hajizadeh did not exclude the possibility of any conflict turning into a “third world war, which means the possibility that other countries enter the war with or against Iran.”

He added, “We place the United States and the Zionist entity in the same category, and we do not expect this entity to wage a war without the support of the US. Based on that, we will inevitably enter the war against both countries and fight the US bases in the region that we consider a part of the US territory, not the territory of Qatar, Bahrain or Afghanistan. At that moment, we will destroy all bases and there will be no neutral country in the region.”

In addition, Germany’s Siemens denied claims made by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee. Boroujerdi had previously accused Siemens of selling Iran “small explosives embedded in equipment” to harm Iran’s nuclear program.

This report coincided with a report published by the British Sunday Times newspaper which said that a spying device disguised as a rock exploded next to the Fordow nuclear facility while the Revolutionary Guard attempted to move it last month. The newspaper noted that the device was able to intercept data from computers in the uranium-enrichment facility.

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