TEHRAN, Iran – An influential former Iranian president on Tuesday criticized the government in unusually blunt terms, saying that it is not taking U.S.-led sanctions seriously enough and that Iran could become a “dictatorship.”
The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani represent a rebuke of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though Rafsanjani did not mention him by name.
“We have never been faced with so many sanctions,” Rafsanjani said at the start of a meeting of an influential clerical council. “I would like to ask you and all the country’s officials to take the sanctions seriously and not as a joke.”
Rafsanjani was also quoted by the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency as indirectly saying that the government is not adhering to the Islamic Republic’s laws.
Ahmadinejad and his supporters have been under increasing pressure from multiple power centers in Iran.
A series of public disagreements between Ahmadinejad’s government and the parliament, influential clerics and even some of the president’s own ministers have led to a crisis atmosphere.