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Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh ( , Mīr-Hoseyn Mūsavī Khāmené; born 2 March 1942) is an Iranian reformist politician, painter and architect who served as the seventy-ninth and last Prime Minister of Iranmarker from 1981 to 1989. Mousavi is currently the president of the Iranian Academy of Arts and was a candidate for the 2009 presidential election.

He was the last Prime Minister in Iran before the 1989 constitutional changes which removed the post of prime minister. Before that, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is also a member of the Expediency Discernment Council and the High Council of Cultural Revolution. However, he has not participated in their meetings for years, which is interpreted by political analysts and commentators as a sign of his disapproval. In the early years of the revolution, Mousavi was the editor-in-chief of the official newspaper of the Islamic Republican Party, the Islamic Republic newspaper. In 2009 presidential election, Mousavi chose green as his campaign color, a color which has since become pervasive in Iranmarker. He is the Leader of Green Movement and Green Path of Hope.

Early life and career

Mir-Hossein Mousavi was born on 2 March 1942 in Khamenehmarker, East Azarbaijanmarker, Iranmarker. His father, Mir-Ismail, was a tea merchant from Tabrizmarker. Mousavi grew up in Khameneh, and moved to Tehranmarker following his graduation from high school in 1958. Mousavi is a relative of fellow Khameneh native Ali Khamenei: Mousavi's grandmother is Khamenei's paternal aunt.

As a young man in the early sixties, Mousavi had a close relationship with the Freedom Movement of Iran., a religious-nationalist political party founded by Mehdi Bazargan, Yadolah Sahabi, Mahmoud Taleghani, Mostafa Chamran, and Ali Shariati. Mousavi was among the student activists who regularly attended Ali Shariati's lectures at Hosseiniyeh Ershad of Tehranmarker.

He earned his undergraduate degree in architecture from the National University of Tehran (now Shahid Beheshti University) , and in 1969 his master's degree in architecture from the National University of Tehran, focusing primarily on traditional Iranian architecture. While a student, he was an active member of the leftist Islamic association of students.

In 1969, Mousavi married Zahra Rahnavard, a fellow university student who specialized in sculpture, and was among the well-known students of Ali Shariati. Rahnavard later became the Chancellor of Alzahra University as well as political adviser to Iran's former President Mohammad Khatami.

Mousavi and his wife had an active role in the success of the Iranian revolution. He was imprisoned for organizing street protests against the monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. As the Iranian revolution neared, Mousavi, whose earliest political hero was Che Guevara, became more actively involved in the struggle. Soon he joined ranks with Mohammad Beheshti, who was a close associate of the revolution leader, Ruholah Khomeini.

The Shah left Iran for exile in January 1979, and several weeks later Ruholah Khomeini returned to Tehranmarker.

Mousavi helped Mohammad Beheshti found the Islamic Republican Party in 1979, in order to assist the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran and hasten the overthrow of Iran's monarchy. He became the political secretary of the party, and chief editor of Jomhouri-e Eslami, the party's official newspaper.

In mid-1979, he was appointed by Khomeini to the Iranian Council of Islamic revolution. As the chief editor of Jomhouri-e Eslami, he was a loud critic and opponent of Abolhassan Banisadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, until the latter's 1981 flight to France, following a successful impeachment by parliament.

In August 15 1981, as part of the restructuring of the government in Mohammad Ali Rajai's cabinet, Mousavi was appointed foreign minister. He held the post for five months until December 15, 1981, when he received the higher appointment of prime minister.Mousavi can speak Persian, English, Arabic and Azari.

Prime minister

Mousavi, the last and 79th prime minister of Iran, since the constitutional revolution in 1906
In August of 1981, President Mohammad-Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar were assassinated in an explosion. Ali Khamenei was then elected as the third president of Iran in the Iranian presidential election, October 1981. He put forward Ali Akbar Velayati as his prime minister, but the Iranian parliament did not give him the vote of confidence, and he was defeated with a vote of 80 to 74. Subsequently, Ali Khamenei, though he had strong disagreements with Mousavi, as a compromise with the left-leaning parliament, agreed to offer him, Mousavi, for the post of premier. On October 28, the parliament approved Mousavi with a vote of 115 to 39. Mousavi became the 79th prime minister of Iran on 31 October 1981, and remained the prime minister of Iran until 3 August 1989, for eight years.

The conflicts between Mousavi, who belonged to the left wing of the Islamic Republic, with Ali Khamenei (the current leader of Iran), who belonged to the right wing of the Islamic Republic, continued during their eight years of shared governance. However, an escalation in conflicts between the two led to Mousavi's resignation shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988. As the prime minister, Mousavi had the full backing of Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader, and he refused to accept his resignation. Mousavi is remembered as leading a government that did not tolerate dissent.

Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Pope John Paul II
Mousavi's premiership coincided with the Iran-Iraq war. He guided the country through its war with Iraq, and earned popular acclaim for his stewardship of the national economy. He pioneered a bond-based economy, which many believe was responsible for a fair distribution of goods among the people throughout the Iran-Iraq war.

Many analysts praise his handling of Iran's economy, his civil and economic leadership during the Iran-Iraq War, and his efforts to end Iran's international isolation. Others remember him as being "unpredictable" and less able to navigate Iran's labyrinthine political system than were his rivals. In 1986, Mousavi played a great role in the Iran-Contra affair and secret negotiations and dealing with USA on helping them free the American hostages in Lebanon, in return for sale of the American weapons and spare-parts that Iran's army badly needed for Iran-Iraq War.

Shortly after the end of Iran-Iraq war on 20 August 1988, Ruhollah Khomeini died, and Ali Khamenei was elected as the new Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts. Following his death, Mousavi and his fellow left-wingers lost their main source of support within the establishment.

During the parliament hearing on post-war reconstruction plans, Mousavi had heated arguments with Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the speaker of Iran's parliament at the time, over Rafsanjani's suggestion that Iran accept the offer of western countries to help with post-war reconstruction.

On July 28 1989, the constitution was amended and approved by Iranian voters in a national referendum with a 97% yes vote. At this time, Mehdi Karrubi had been elected as the new speaker of the parliament, to whom the amended constitution was declared. According to one of the amendments, the prime minister's position was abolished.

Hashemi Rafsanjani was also elected as the fourth president of Iran on 28 July 1989 and became the president on 3 August 1989. Mousavi's premiership, ended on the same date. He was the 79th and the last prime minister of Iran, since the constitutional revolution in 1906.

Mousavi was not invited to be a participant in the new government headed by Rafsanjani, and disappeared from the public sphere.

Retirement from politics

When Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic died in 1989, Mousavi was no longer welcome in the regime. It was the start of 20 years of an almost total absence from public life for Mousavi, though he did sit on two high-level regime councils. He was almost totally absent from public life, which many consider as a sign of his disapproval of the established regime.

In 1989 Ali Khamenei named him as a member of the Expediency Discernment Council, his membership of which still continues. Mousavi has been a member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution since 1996. He also was the political adviser of president Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997) and senior adviser of president Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005).

During these years, he partly retired from politics and returned to architecture and teaching, becoming President of the Iranian Academy of Arts, one of the four academies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. At the same time he was developing his passion for painting and writing poetry. He was a professor at Shahid Beheshti University and later joined the Academic staff of Tarbiat Modares University. His main field is architecture, and buildings such as Kanoon-e Tohid in Tehranmarker, Beynolharamein Bazaar in Shirazmarker, Haft-e-tir Martyr's tomb in Tehran's Behesht-e Zahramarker, and Salman mosque in the presidential residence are examples of his work. In recent years he has been more active in painting and has participated in many exhibitions.

Presidential election candidacy

Past elections

Mousavi speeking in Zanjan
Mousavi refused to run for President in the 1997 elections, which caused the reformists to turn to his former Cabinet Minister, then a little-known cleric, Mohammad Khatami, who was elected by a landslide. During Khatami's administration, Mousavi served as the Senior Adviser to the President.

Mousavi was considered the leading candidate from the reformist alliance to run in the Iranian presidential election, 2005. However, on 12 October 2004 he officially declined the proposal after a meeting with President Mohammad Khatami and the two other top members of one of Iran's main Reformist parties, the Association of Combatant Clerics, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Mousavi-Khoiniha.

2009 Presidential election

Mousavi supporters in Tehran


After 20 years of political silence, on March 9, 2009, Mousavi announced his intention to run in the 2009 Iranian presidential election. He stated that his main goals were: to institutionalize social justice, equality and fairness, freedom of expression, to root out corruption and to speed up Iran's stagnant process of privatization and thus move Iran away from what he calls "an alms-based economy". Mousavi criticized the current conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his alleged economic mismanagement, asking, when Iran "was making profits from the high prices of oil, did he (Ahmadinejad) envisage a situation when the prices would fall?"

On March 16, 2009, the former Iranian President Khatami withdrew from the election in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Goals for presidential term

Mousavi has on numerous occasions indicated his wish to change the constitution in order to remove the existing ban on the private ownership of television stations (currently all Iranian television stations are state-owned), as well as transfer the control of the law-enforcement forces to the President (so that they represent the people, since the people directly elect the President through popular vote) from the Supreme Leader. He has said that "the issue of non-compliance with the Iranian rules and regulations is the biggest problem that the country is currently faced with" and that he wishes to put in place ways to enforce the laws further, and that it is also important to bring an end to keeping people in the dark about government matters.

Platform

Supporters of Mousavi's 2009 presidential campaign
Mousavi ran as an independent Principled Reformist candidate. Although he is one of the original founders of the Iranian reformist camp, he shares many principles of the conservatives. Many reformist parties, among them reformist Islamic Iranian Participation Front, whose main candidate was Khatami, have supported his candidacy after the latter withdrew from the race. Many supporters of the reformist movement have however objected to Mousavi's candidacy on the grounds that he is not committed to the principles of the reformist parties. Although Mousavi stated that he was not running as a reformist, he indicated that he welcomed the support of different parties, both reformist and conservative. He started his campaign from the center of Iranian politics, however over time he shifted more towards the left by declaring his support for reforms. Although some active members of the conservative camp, such as Emad Afroogh, as well as the conservative newspaper Jomhouri Eslami, supported Mousavi's candidacy, he did not receive the official backing of any major conservative party. His candidacy made it harder for the conservatives to support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and large conservative parties, such as the Combatant Clergy Association, did not back the current President for a second term of office.

The BBC reported that Mousavi "called for greater personal freedoms in Iran and criticized the ban on private television channels", but "refused to back down from the country's disputed nuclear programme, saying it is "for peaceful purposes".

On May 30, Mousavi pledged that if elected he would amend "discriminatory and unjust regulations" against women, and take other measures in favour of women's rights and equality.

Domestic policies

In his first press conference since the start of Iranian New Year in March 2009, Mousavi stated his policies on how he will govern the country.Among his policies are creation of a free environment for the flow of information and corrections to the national budget. He wants to promote the creation of private, non-governmental TV networks and stop the operation of the "Moral Police".He has spoken about his opposition to massive changes in ministries which he claims is what Ahmadinejad has done.

Regarding the Iranian nuclear program, his plan includes a reduction of the cost by opposing radical approaches while maintaining what he sees as "Iran's right to civilian nuclear technology". Mousavi has stated that giving up the country's nuclear program would be "irreparable" and that the Iranian people support the nuclear program. "No one in Iran will accept suspension," Mousavi has said, adding that if elected, his policy would be to work to provide "guarantees" that Tehran's nuclear activities would never divert to non-peaceful aims.

He has also vowed to review laws that discriminate against women in Iran. He has said that he would seek to disband the so-called morality police force and ensure that Iranian women are treated equally, with the ability to attain financial empowerment and to serve at the highest levels of decision making bodies.

Foreign policies

Mousavi has directly addressed activating foreign policy to boost national interest by reducing tensions with other nations. This includes negotiating with U.S. President Barack Obama if "his actions are in keeping with his words". He has condemned Ahmadinejad's attitude toward the The Holocaust (namely, that it was a "a myth"), and condemned the killing of Jews in the Holocaust.

Outcome of election

Millions of Mousavi supporters, gathered in Tehran on 18 June, protesting against the election results
The election was held on June 12, 2009. The official results show Ahmadinejad winning by a landslide, though Mousavi and many others believe the results to be fraudulent, suggesting that the Interior Minister, Sadegh Mahsouli, an ally of Ahmadinejad, interfered with the election and distorted the votes to keep Ahmadinejad in power. Mousavi has claimed victory, and called for his supporters to celebrate it. There have been large protests as a result .

Green Movement

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An Iranian girl participating in protests
Green Movement refers to a series of actions after the Iranian presidential election, 2009, in which protesters demanded removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office. Green was originally the symbol of Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign, but after the election it became a symbol of unity and hope for the protesters.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, Hossein-Ali Montazeri and Mohammad Khatami are recognized as leaders of the Green Movement.

Where is my vote?( ) was a motto used during the protests. Anti-Ahmadinejad protesters chanted the English-language phrase in numbers not seen since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, in an attempt to receive international attention. The Iranian Government had released results claiming a two-thirds majority for Ahmadinejad, but supporters of Mousavi and Karroubi, the moderate opposition leaders, accused the government of rigging the votes.

In the aftermath of the election and ensuing comments by Ahmadinejad and other conservative leaders, calling the opposition "a pile of dust" (خس و خاشاک), protests were widened and massive peaceful protests were held around the country. Although the Iranian government prohibited any gatherings of protesters in Tehranmarker and across the country, significantly slowed down internet access and censored any form of media supporting the opposition, hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched in defiance. Large numbers of protesters were arrested, and several were killed by the police and militia forces Basij. Neda Agha-soltanmarker and Sohrab Aarabi were among the victims, and alleged cases of rape in prison (Taraneh Mousavi) were also brought to attention.

Since the election, the government has severely restricted the access of foreign and Iranian media to footage and information relating to opposition activities. As a result, scenes of the massive street protests and more frequent student protests have been filmed by participants, and are widely available on Youtube.

The Green Path of Hope

Mousavi and other reformist leaders are now working in peaceful and legal methods to widen the influence of their reforms. They have set up a new coalition, named The Green Path of Hope. Iranian political parties and movements need to be authorized by the Interior Ministry. Mousavi neither recognizes the current government as legitimate nor is likely to receive permission; so, the movement was named a "path" in order bypass this law.

The Green Path of Hope seeks to continue protests against Ahmadinejad's presidency following lawful and peaceful methods, and the full execution of the constitution, as Mousavi says:

Mousavi is quoted in describing the movement :

According to organization officials, the movement functions encompasses numerous political parties, NGO's and social networks. Mousavi emphasized that existent, autonomous social networks in the community are part of this movement: :

The "Green Path" has six main members of the central council, who are connected to reformist parties, NGOs, and social networks. The main body will be ordinary protesters. The strategy is to connect existent pressures and issues in society in a social network, and to therefore lead protests in a lawful manner.

Footnotes

References

Books


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