Rafsanjani backs down against clerics

PRESIDENT Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani of Iran pledged 'full obedience' to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after he had been accused and found 'guilty' of 'plotting' to remove all senior hardline clerics from power and even 'destabilise' the Ayatollah's position as the supreme leader of Iran's Islamic regime, according to well-informed sources.

The President made his vow at the end of what is described as having been a stormy meeting between himself and Ayatollah Khamenei. At this meeting, President Rafsanjani strongly protested about a damaging campaign launched last month by the Ayatollah to 'eradicate corrupt Western culture and influences'. So far, what the campaign has achieved is radicalisation of the social climate at home, a sharp deterioration of relations with several Western nations and a U-turn in the government's economic policies from a Western trend to a totally state-controlled one. President Rafsanjani had threatened to resign unless the Ayatollah stopped his campaign.

The Ayatollah invited several hardliners to the meeting. They accused the President of a plot to remove them from power, ban them and even weaken Ayatollah Khamenei's position as the supreme leader of the nation and the revolution, according to the same sources.

Not only did the Ayatollah reject Mr Rafsanjani's resignation, he stepped up his anti-Western outbursts and openly criticised Mr Rafsanjani's economic policies. 'The Islamic Iran, the Islamic revolution does not want such Western-style economy,' Ayatollah Khamenei told a congregation of workers last week. 'We reject such policies because they basically are against our principles and our humanitarian goals. We want a true Islamic economy which benefits all people and not just a few.'

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