These days, writing letters between Iranian elite politicians is very fashionable—the Larijani brothers’ write letters to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad writes letters to Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary. The latest appears to be a letter to Mohammed Mursi, Egypt’s president.
A letter from 17 Iranian scholars, announcing the willingness to transfer Iran’s experiences and scientific capabilities to Egypt, has been publicized wildly in Iran’s state media. The signatories are mainly unknown names and figures, calling to question the cause for this letter receiving so much attention.
Former Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati and former chairman of the Parliament Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel are the most well-known figures among the writers of this letter, and then perhaps the president of Tehran University Farhad Rahbar—frankly the rest are average scholars.
To my and many other Iranians’ knowledge, none of them is not associated to any scientific institution or has professional executive experience.
Dr. Velayati’s entire experience goes no further than serving as former President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s unsuccessful foreign minister. When Hashemi Rafsanjani completed his two terms as president, Supreme Leader Khamenei appointed Dr. Velayati as his advisor in international affairs.
Haddad-Adel’s official titles are far more modest and limited to serving once as the head of the parliament and now as a member of the parliament. His only advantage is his association with Ayatollah Khamenei, whose daughter married Haddad-Adel’s son.
According to one of the writers Farhad Rahbar, the core of this letter, which was sent at the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolution, is to advise the Egyptian president to adopt Islam as the only and best model of governance.
Rahbar, who was on Iranian news on Sunday, Feb. 17 told the presenter about the necessity and obligation these members of academia felt to write to President Mursi and offer Iran’s expertise to a fellow Muslim country.
Rahbar said Iran had an effect on most of the countries that recently underwent a revolution, like Egypt. These scholars felt an Islamic duty to offer assistance and guidance to President Mursi.
Is this so-called scientific letter offering guides to demolish democracy?
He said the letter is an introduction to a religious point of view and, “our achievements as the best model of Islam ruling a nation,” Rahbar revealed to the presenter.
He indicated that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the best model, showcasing the compatibility of Islam and politics.
Seeds of doubt
But aren’t these sympathetic scholars better off writing to Ayatollah Khamenei instead of President Mursi to question why Sunnis are forbidden to have a mosque in Tehran for the sake of God and Islam?
The presenter asked why this letter did not address Egyptian scholars instead of the president.
Rahbar explained rather cryptically, “Because we have received information that some with evil attributes are in constant letter writing with President Mursi, asking him not to fully implement Islam in society.” He continued, “They want to create seeds of doubt.”
“We have received this information and we want to wipe this uncertainty from him [Mursi],” added Rahbar live on national television in a special news report.
Offering technology and scientific experiences turned out to have the aim of correcting President Mursi from evil temptation! None of the signatories are from President Ahmadinejad’s camp. So much independence from the government leads to the suspicion that Supreme Leader Khamenei approved the letter or at least gave the green light to the writers in the hope that the letter would open an individual dialogue between the conservatives in Iran and the Egyptian president.
Competing with President Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Egypt, his opponents need to make a move and open a channel with Mursi’s administration before Ahmadinejad leaves office in June.
The words came to the mouth of Farhad should be Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati’s word, the Supreme Leader’s international affairs advisor.
The presenter asked Rahbar whether the scholars received any answer from President Mursi.
“We haven’t received an answer yet. We sent the letter through an intermediate. We are waiting for the answer,” Rahbar said.
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai.