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Rumors about the creation of a crisis council by the Islamic Republic abound

With sanctions playing havoc on Iran’s economy, the threat of war with Israel on the horizon, and Syria in flames, could the Islamic Republic be considering the creation of crisis council to centralize power and better manage the country? A recent article in Iran newspaper, the official publication of the executive branch of the Iranian government, entitled “Sending letters: From the poisoned chalice to the desperate attempts of deposed ministers” suggests that this may be the case.

According to the article published in Iran newspaper on Monday 13 August 2012, a group of  former government ministers and senior officials including ex-foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki and ex-interior minister Mostafa Pour-Mohmammadi have written a letter to the regime’s senior leadership (likely a reference to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) discussing the urgent need to create a council to better deal with the countries many problems. The council would bring together the heads of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government as well as other “wise men”.

Iran newspaper viewed this letter as part of a larger strategy by anti-Ahmadinejad forces to create a sense of crisis in the country and suggest the need for a novel approach to governance. The publication, which is aligned with president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, named ex-presidents Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani as other individuals who were a part of this strategy and hinted their actions were an attack on the power and authority of the executive branch. Mottaki has denied the existence of the letter.

An article in Farda News, aligned with Tehran mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, on 25 August 2012 cited an anonymous ex-representative in the Majlis, Iran’s legislature, who claimed that a group of current parliamentarians have written a separate letter to Khamenei which focused on similar themes as the letter by Mottaki and Pour-Mohammadi. However the report in Farda News, which is an anti-Ahmadinejad website,  did not indicate that the letters sought to curtail the powers of the president.

Editor’s note: In the last two years there have been a number of disturbing signs that the Islamic Republic is in crisis, from the woeful economic situation to the constant threats of foreign attack. This sense of crisis has been confirmed by concrete actions taken by the regime, including the beginning of rationing of strategic goods last month. Rumors about the creation of a crisis council only lend further credence to the idea that the regime senses grave difficulties on the horizon. For now, the council appears to be only a proposal that may not come to fruition. However, it is not far-fetched to think that the regime may seek to centralize power and coordinate the policies of key state bodies to better manage the problems that it faces, and we are likely to see signs of this in the near-future.