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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08IRANRPODUBAI30
2008-06-12 14:46:00
SECRET//NOFORN
Iran RPO Dubai
Cable title:  

AHMADINEJAD ASSOCIATE ARRESTED AFTER ACCUSING CLERICS OF

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  IR 
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VZCZCXRO8538
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHDIR #0030/01 1641446
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 121446Z JUN 08 ZDK
FM IRAN RPO DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0279
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHDIR/IRAN RPO DUBAI PRIORITY 0272
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 0242
RUEHAD/USDAO ABU DHABI TC
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0210
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 IRAN RPO DUBAI 000030 

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/12/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL IR
SUBJECT: AHMADINEJAD ASSOCIATE ARRESTED AFTER ACCUSING CLERICS OF
CORRUPTION

DUBAI 00000030 001.2 OF 003


CLASSIFIED BY: Jillian Burns, Director, Iran Regional Presence
Office, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)


S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 IRAN RPO DUBAI 000030

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/12/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL IR
SUBJECT: AHMADINEJAD ASSOCIATE ARRESTED AFTER ACCUSING CLERICS OF
CORRUPTION

DUBAI 00000030 001.2 OF 003


CLASSIFIED BY: Jillian Burns, Director, Iran Regional Presence
Office, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)



1.(S//NF) Summary: Abbas Palizdar, a minor Iranian politician
associated with President Ahmadinejad, is making headlines after
publicly accusing high-ranking conservative clerics of economic
corruption and then being arrested. It is not yet clear what
his motivation was or what impact his speeches will have. Two
Iranian contacts said they believe Palizdar's speech was given
with the permission of Ahmadinejad in order to divert attention
from the government's mistakes and/or make it appear the
government was fighting against corruption. However, it does
not appear that the accusations received much coverage in
domestic press until picked up outside the country, which would
seem to undercut that argument. Palizdar later gave an
interview to Radio Farda, which is taboo in Iran (unless
authorized by the government, as one contact surmised). He was
then reportedly arrested June 11, accused of publishing lies and
disturbing public opinion, according to Fars News. One
Dubai-based analyst said that the significance of Palizdar's
speech is not necessarily the accusations he made against
important clerics, since rumors of corruption by prominent
figures abound in Iran, but whether the fall-out from these
accusations impacts the Supreme Leader's support of Ahmadinejad.
End Summary.

The accusations

--------------

2.(U) Abbas Palizdar, a minor Iranian politician associated with
President Ahmadinejad, reportedly gave speeches in May at
Hamedan and Shiraz Universities, in which he accused high level
Iranians of corruption. Among those he accused were members of
the Guardian Council, Expediency Council, influential clerics
from Qom and Mashhad and even close advisors of the Supreme
Leader. According to press reports, Palizdar's accusations
included the following:

-- Guardian Council member and temporary Friday prayer leader of
Tehran Imanmi Kashani reportedly used his child's disability as
a justification for taking over the licensing and operations of
four mines. Kashani repo
rtedly asked for the revenues from the
mines to construct a physical therapy center for his son.

-- Guardian Council member, Assembly of Experts member, former
head of the judiciary, and head of the Teachers of Qom
Theological Center Mohammad Yazdi reportedly made a large profit
on a tire company after acquiring it at a fraction of its actual
cost. Yazdi was also accused of using his position of power to
secure logging rights for his son in northern Iran.

-- Former speaker of the Majles and advisor to the Supreme
Leader Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, former head of the Mostazafin
Foundation Mohsen Rafiqdoost, former Secretary of the
conservatives Islamic Coalition Association Asqar Oladi, Deputy
Director of the Supreme Leader's Office (presumably
Abdolhossein) Moezi, former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian,
and the Mashhad cleric Ayatollah Elm Alhoda were all accused of
fraud charges involving Iran Khodro car manufacturing plant.

-- The Supreme Leader's representative in Khorasan province
Ayatollah Vaezi Tabasi reportedly had 13 mines handed over to
him.

-- Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi's son-in-law (FNU) Modalal was
called the "king of the sugar mafia."

-- When asked about former president Rafsanjani and his family,
Palizdar reportedly said, "their economic corruption is so wide
that it is not possible to list them. But one of them is in
their lack of payment of taxes to the government."

Who is this guy?

--------------

3.(S//NF) Press reports and Iran analysts differ on Abbas
Palizdar's current or former positions. Reformist newspaper
E'temad called Palizdar a "barely known principle-ist" before he
made his speech at Hamedan. A Tehran-based political and

DUBAI 00000030 002.2 OF 003


economic analyst called him "a former economic counselor to
parliament and an ally of President Ahmadinejad." Later, in a
newsletter to clients, the analyst said Palizdar is a "former
member of the Majles' Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission and
now Head of Parliament's Office of Infrastructure Studies."

4.(S//NF) A purported former IRGC general told IRPoff that
Palizdar is very close to Ahmadinejad and that Palizdar was the
government's representative to the Majles Judicial Inquiry and
Review Commission, which he described as the parliamentary
committee that investigates corruption charges. He said
Palizdar was not a member of parliament. The same source
claimed that Palizdar waQormer IRGC member who had worked
for him when the general ran the IRGC human resources
department, presumably in the 1980s. The general claimed
Palizdar was extremely hardline, which necessitated close
monitoring of his activities. The former general also claimed
that the source of Palizdar's information came from complaints
that had been submitted to the Majles commission and may or may
not be true, but had not been proved. He said that the head of
the commission had distanced himself from Palizdar's claims.
Saeed Aboutaleb, whom the general claimed was the head of the
commission, was quoted in the Washington Post saying that
Palizdar "was helping one of the parliament members as an expert
but wasn't present in the sessions of the committee that deals
with corruption issues."

Palizdar's motivation?

--------------

5.(S//NF) What remains unclear is whether or not Palizdar was
directed by President Ahmadinejad to launch an attack against
conservative elements who are not considered allies of the
president. Press reports claim that Palizdar did not initially
mention names in his speech, only accusations, but started
naming names when pressed by the audience. According to
semi-official Fars News, Palizdar's accusations were based on a
study he wrote that was reportedly commissioned by Ahmadinejad.
Initial press reports were quick to point out that Palizdar did
not accuse any of Ahmadinejad's close allies of corrupt
practices. According to BBC Persian, Hamedan University's
Islamic Association is closely associated with Ahmadinejad.
Non-governmental media outlets also associated Palizdar with
Ahmadinejad, particularly since Palizdar ran unsuccessfully in
2006 for Tehran's provincial council on a list that supported
President Ahmadinejad.

6.(S//NF) The Tehran-based political and economic analyst
claimed that some analysts believe that "Palizdar's intervention
may have been a mechanism to test the limits of the government's
criticism of the country's non-elected organs at a time when
talks of (Supreme Leader) Khamenei's succession and the future
of the velayat-e-faqih are taking shape."

7.(S//NF) Two IRPO contacts maintained that Palizdar spoke on
behest of the president to divert blame and attention from
government mismanagement, or to give the appearance of tackling
the problem of corruption, particularly in the face of a new
Majles full of presidential critics. One of them, a former
staff member of the Guardians Council, was particularly
dismissive of the incident, saying that these claims of
corruption made by Palizdar were old and widely known. He felt
that the speech was inconsequential political theater by
Ahmadinejad, and none of those accused by Palizdar would be
prosecuted. (Comment: The fact that the speeches apparently got
little domestic press coverage until picked up by oppositionist
media would seem to undercut these arguments that the speech was
deliberate Ahmadinejad-directed propaganda. End comment)

8.(U) However, on June 11, BBC Persian noted a rush of Iranian
press accounts critical of Palizdar and claimed that groups
close to Ahmadinejad (no further information) appeared to be
trying to distance themselves from him. Fars News reported that
Bank Mellat is pressing charges against him for not replaying a
business loan he received 16 years ago of more than $6 million.

9.(U) In an editorial, BBC Persian asserted that Ahmadinejad
supporters, particularly students calling for an end to economic
corruption, may now feel let down by the president since his
government appears to be abandoning Palizdar. According to
BBC's analysis, Ahmadinejad may be under pressure - including by
those who were named by Palizdar - to stop talking about
economic corruption. If anyone takes too close a look at major

DUBAI 00000030 003.2 OF 003


economic dealings in Iran, the entire government would be
implicated.

10.(S//NF) Accusations of corruption are nothing new in Iran,
underscored a Dubai-based Iran analyst to IRPoff. Politicians
are continually involved in "character assassination of one
another," he said. This source said it is more important to
step back and do a cost-benefit analysis of whether or not -
given the latest accusations against people close to the Supreme
Leader - Khamenei would continue to support Ahmadinejad. He
argued that Ahmadinejad had served his purpose in the eyes of
Khamenei; Ahmadinejad had diminished the role of Rafsanjani and
pushed out reformists. If Ahmadinejad and his allies continue
to isolate themselves and challenge leading clerics, it may be
too costly for the Supreme Leader to continue to back
Ahmadinejad. In any case, added the analyst, it is still "too
soon" to make any clear predictions over Ahmadinejad's future.

11.(C) Comment: The most interesting aspects of this case to
date have been: 1) the fact that an associate of Ahmadinejad
gave an interview to Radio Farda --during which he boldly
defended his accusations and promised to reveal more evidence to
support his claims -- an act that is proscribed in Iran and has
gotten others jailed; and 2) reports that Palizdar has now been
arrested. One source claimed that Palizdar would not have
spoken to Radio Farda without authorization from Ahmadinejad,
which if true, would indicate a cunning use by the president of
USG media. However, the source's comment came prior to the news
of Palizdar's reported detention. Whatever the circumstances,
none of our contacts to date view Palizdar's speech as a
watershed event in Iranian politics likely to result in any real
change.BURNS