Iranian dissident figure Mir Hossein Mousavi has warned the nation over the introduction of hereditary leadership, referring to current ruler Ali Khamenei’s son.

Mousavi (Musavi), 81, who has been under house arrest since February 2011, was Iran’s Prime Minister from 1981 to 1989. He was a candidate in the disputed presidential election in 2009 and challenged the results leading large protests for months before he was arrested and put under house arrest without a trial. His wife Zahra Rahnavard and another candidate Mehdi Karroubi suffered a similar fate as all three were accused of “sedition” against the regime.

Although he had a sizable following at the time, support for him was almost non-existent during several waves of nationwide protests since December 2017.

In a statement released by Kaleme website, Mousavi referred to rumors about Khamenei’s son being groomed to succeed his father, and said, “Have the 2500-year-old monarchies returned to power that we are talking about Khamenei’s son’s succession?”

Rumors about Mojtaba Khamenei’s ambitions have been circulating in Iran since 2005 when he was first accused of rigging the presidential election in a bid to bring like-minded politicians to power. No official statement has ever been made by Mojtaba or others at Khamenei’s office about the idea of his succession. However, Mousavi asked: “Why they do not deny the rumors if they are not thinking of Mojtaba’s rise to the throne?”

Mojtaba Khamenei (R) with former IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani. Undated

During the past years there have also been rumors about Mojtaba’s involvement in financial corruption cases involving the IRGC. The rumors also charged that he supervised the IRGC intelligence when Hossein Ta’eb, who was recently fired by Khamenei, headed the organization.

Former state television chief Mohammad Sarafraz wrote in his memoires extensively about Mojtaba’s and Ta’eb’s involvement in financial corruption. Mojtaba is a stealthy figure who is hardly seen in any high-profile political gathering. Nonetheless, he is believed to be Khamenei’s most influential offspring.

Meanwhile, Mousavi criticized Khamenei for Iran’s intervention in Syria and charged that the Islamic Republic has committed “stigmatic crimes” in the Middle East and has created a tragedy for a nation overwhelmed by poverty, hunger and dictatorship.

Mousavi further accused Khamenei of supporting the oppressive Syrian regime in the name of protecting Islamic sanctities. “The regime has even changed the title of Arab Spring to Islamic Awakening and has made words devoid of meaning,” he said.

Mousavi reminded Khamenei that protesters in recent years have been chanting slogans such as “Leave Syria alone and think of us” and “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, Long live Iran.” He further warned Khamenei that “It would be a grave mistake to manipulate other nations’ aspirations.”

Many social media users in Iran characterized Mousavi’s statement as “brave”. At the same time many others said Mousavi’s slogan of “Returning to the golden age of Imam Khomeini” only reminds of his silence in the face of Khomeini’s documented order to kill thousands of political prisoners in Iranian jails in 1988.”

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