NYT: Iran’s Most Important Religious Group Defies Khamenei

The most important group of religious leaders in Iran has called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.
The statement by the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult — if not impossible.

Editor of Kayhan calls for Mousavi’s arrest for “treason” (via BBC)

Kayhan accused Mr Mousavi of “killing innocent people, inciting riots, hiring thugs to assault people, evident co-operation with foreigners and playing the part of US fifth column”. The newspaper, whose editor is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said there were “undeniable documents” proving that Mr Mousavi had links with foreign countries. It also accused former reformist President Mohammad Khatami of playing a key part in the unrest. “Mousavi and Khatami should account for these horrendous crimes and evident treason in an open tribunal”. Earlier this week, Iran’s pro-government militia, the Basij, called for Mr Mousavi to be prosecuted.

Haaretz: US opposed to new Iran sanctions; will not engage Iran in bilateral talks

The United States is opposed to enacting a new set of financial sanctions against Iran that are due to be discussed in the G8 summit next week, diplomatic officials in New York reported Friday.
According to officials, sanctions against Iran are expected to top the G8’s agenda. Sources are also predicting a pointed debate between the heads of the industrialized nations over an appropriate response to Iranian authorities’ suppression of reformist demonstrations in Iran led by Mir Hossein Mousavi and other Iranian opposition leaders.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hinted in a newspaper interview earlier in the week that the G8 is due to decide on new financial sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Berlusconi disclosed that he had spoken with the heads of the G8 nations and has discussed such steps with them.
According to the Italian prime minister, “the general leaning [among G8 leaders] is toward sanctions.”
However, diplomatic sources in New York reported that American officials are working behind the scenes to prevent new sanctions from being imposed against Iran.
U.S. officials claimed that a tough stance toward Iran could backfire, bringing about an opposite outcome to that desired by those who support such measures.
The Obama administration, according to the diplomatic sources, has discarded the notion of direct talks with Iran. However, the United States is still interested in re-engaging Iran through the renewed discussion of its nuclear program through the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany.

Grand Ayatollah Saanei reiterates support for demonstrators

While extending my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the recent tragedies, and wishing a speedy recovery for the injured, particularly for our precious and devoted student body in Esfahan, shiraz, Tehran, and other cities, who have stood up for their rights and have of late protested against the ambiguities surrounding the election results, seeking clarification which is indeed their right, I hereby express my grave sorrow and grief at the detestable incidents as have taken place and also express my aversion to those who had a hand in those disasters and tragedies. I hope that the wishes of the people will be fulfilled and their demands will be met by those responsible in the system, whose foremost duty should be the protection of people’s life and property.

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