Majlis deputies wanted an explanation of why such a report was prepared in the first place and why it was available to others, specifically “counter-revolutionary media” it they phrased it. The report, as reflected in SAHAM news, describes the secret activities of the intelligence agency of the IRGC for a coup against the 1998-2005 reform administration of president Mohammad Khatami.
Rooz spoke with Ali-Asghar Ramezanpour, the deputy minister of culture in Khatami’s administration, about the accuracy of the report. “The report is generally correct and accurate and it is quite possible that it was prepared by individuals close to Mr. Rouhani and provided to the supreme leader because many middle-level officials in IRGC intelligence agency and the ministry of intelligence have this information,” he said. He continued, “Most of the (intelligence) agencies that are named in the report officially exist with those very names and there is no doubt that most of those who work in them are opponents of the current administration but to go beyond that and make the conclusion that these activities are officially against the government does not seem reasonable or rational. Normally, cover names are used for sensitive intelligence operations or individuals. In other words, the think tanks that are mentioned in the report do mostly exist and their activities began during the presidential campaign activities which picked up momentum after a specific point in time.”
According to SAHAM’s story on the report, the IRGC through Hossein Taeb, the director of the IRGC intelligence agency had created a number of “safe houses” and engaged in activities against the government in different areas.
Hossein Taeb is not an unknown name to many, particularly reformers. Ramezanpour continued on Taeb’s role in anti-Rouhani government activities. “I know some of the people mentioned in the report, such as Taeb, Moshafagh, Nejabat and Foruzandeh, and others who played a role in creating the Deen and Danesh institute and know that they played a similar role during Mr. Khatami’s days. I think the specifics that are provided by SAHAM news are correct.”
According to Ramezanpour, “The agencies and individuals that are named in the report used to be active in those days (Mohammad Khatami’s presidency) as well. Some of course were not at the same level they are today while others such as Naghdi were more active then. The same is true of someone like Elham who became the government spokesman during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency. In fact Elham was among the leading organizer of pressure groups against Mr. Khatami administration’s cultural programs and Basij para-military forces were put at his disposal for such ends.” He continued, “Behind-the-scene battles with these centers and individuals took place almost on a daily basis by sections of Khatami’s government in the ministry of culture and ministry of intelligence. At times clashes led to threats exchanged between the two sides. As an example, they would send a message that if a specific program was implemented, they would react by doing something specific or would arrest a specific person. They sometimes even created dossiers against individuals and then used them to extract concessions or make deals. In the first yeas of Khatami’s administration the judiciary tried to stay neutral in these battles but in time things changed and senior officials in the judiciary gradually changed and authority fell into the hands of people such as prosecutor Mortezavi, who was involved in all the activities that took place against Khatami’s government.”
Ramezanpour also talked about the role of ayatollah Khamenei in these battles and in the parallel agencies outside the government. “I doubt that political and security activities at this level can be withheld from Mr. Khamenei’s knowledge. It is part of his management style to create parallel activities (to those of the government) so that he could utilize them against the others if necessary. This is a tried-out intelligence practice in the Islamic republic, and possible in many intelligence agencies of other countries.”
According to SAHAM news, president Rouhani had taken the intelligence report to ayatollah Khamenei and had asked him to advise the IRGC to stop these activities, to which the supreme leader responded by saying that members of the IRGC did not heed to his words either.
On this point, Ramezanpour says that that it was not the first instance of such a remark by the supreme leader. “The first part of ayatollah Khamenei’s response is not new and had been heard before. It is said that sometimes when Mr. Khatami and Mr. Rafsanjani presented complaints about activities of the Revolutionary Guards, the leader had responded by saying that the IRGC did not heed to his calls. The general impression in those days was that Mr. Khamenei merely said this to evade taking action against the force, while not denying the possibility of pursuing the complaints. So it is quite possible that his similar comments to Mr. Rouhani now are for the same purpose. But the second part of his comments is dubious. It is doubtful that Mr. Khamenei would say something to the effect that the Guards were operating against the government.”
About four months ago, during a public address president Hassan Rouhani had made a reference to “think tanks” and “undermining activities” and had said, “A small group of individuals had left think tanks and entered operational rooms. They should know that the government is both aware of their activities and will engage in suitable measures against their destructive activities.”
Speaking about the SAHAM news report to Rooz, a member belonging to the reformist Participation Front in the sixth Majlis said, “The message of the report is clear and was known in political circles. In fact, the main issues in the report had been the subject of discussion by political activists and officials during the reform period. We too had meetings to discuss these a number of times and Mr. Khatami has also mentioned the issues during his presidency and even after it.”
According to this ex-MP, “The activities of this parallel or shadow government grew in intensity during Mr. Khatami’s presidency, whether in the IRGC intelligence agency, in the office of Mr. Khamenei or in the National Broadcasting Organization. If you read Mr. Kardan’s memoirs, you will see that the National Broadcasting Organization had in reality turned into an anti-government think tank. The same is true of the monitoring teams of the Guardian Council. In those days, the IRGC intelligence agency, the Intelligence Protection Agency of the judiciary and the Intelligence Agency of the police had also become active and each tried to undermine Mr. Khatami administration’s activities. We should not forget that the control and command center for all these groups was in one place: The office of Mr. Khamenei.”
He continued, “Mr. Ahmadinejad’s eight years in the presidency provided the best opportunity for these groups to strengthen themselves. In addition to getting an official budget or economic projects, the sanctions helped them as well. IN fact, the security-military forces and the members of the military-style parties established their foundation. Their current financial and logistic capabilities are so large today that they can easily topple any government.”
Speaking about the future of ayatollah Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, this MP said, “I doubt he has the power that he is attributed to. Even if he did have a role in these events, they were because of his father. Mr. Khamenei does not trust many of those around him and because of this tries to put individuals who are close to him or subservient to him in these posts. From Mr. Khamenei’s perspective, Mojtaba Khamenei is not the future leader but someone he can rely on in his pursuit of his goals. The largest goal of which is ‘leadership of Muslims of the world.’”
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