January 30, 2011
In recent years, and particularly since the disputed June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, commanders of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have regularly appeared in the media and accused many political personalities, civil activists, and media professionals of engaging in “sedition” activities against the state, trying to overthrow the regime, and even having relations with foreigners – a term implying being foreign spies – because of their criticism of the current administration and also their protests over the official announcement of the 2009 presidential elections. But in its latest statement, the public relations office of the IRGC announced that, “The official position of the IRGC will be announced only by the supreme commander (of the IRGC), the representative of the supreme leader and the PR office of the force.”
In remarks that were posted on the IRGC website and official news agencies of the Islamic republic, Guards commander General Ramezan Sharif said, “Based on existing directives and criteria in the armed forces and IRGC policies, only what is said and published by the supreme commander, the representative of the supreme leader and the public relations office of the IRGC through its statements, news, interviews or reports, shall be the official positions of this institution.” He specifically reiterated that what “other commanders and officials of the Guards announce about various issues and subjects are not necessarily the official position of the force.” But he also further added that, “force commanders and organization authorities and those whose responsibilities have been announced by the supreme leader and the supreme commander also shall engage in reporting on their performance within the realm of their responsibilities.”
It should be noted that this announcement comes at a time when ever since the June 2009 presidential elections IRGC commanders have widely expressed their support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through the official media, despite the specific ban on such activity in the charter of the force and also the directive of ayatollah Khomeini who had said that “the Guards should not engage in political affairs.”
Among those commanders whose views have been viewed as representative of the IRGC is the
General Yadollah Javani, the head of the IRGC political office. He normally publishes his political views in the IRGC’s official publication, Sobh Sadegh, under the purview of the representative of the supreme leader in the force. He has regularly defended and supported Ahmadinejad in his writing and has called those who had questioned the 2009 presidential election as “seditionists.”
General Javani has also written much against Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the leading presidential contender in 2009 who was the country’s prime minister during the 8-year war years in the 1980s. He has accused Mousavi of orchestrating a velvet revolution to overthrow the theocratic regime and also asserted that his views reject the principle of the absolute religious leader, known as thevelayat faghih in Shiite political doctrine. In his pieces, he had also said that the IRGC would destroy any attempts to advance a velvet revolution.
Last month when former two-time president Mohammad Khatami announced the minimum requirements for reformers to participate in future elections, General Javani lashed back that Khatami was “changing tactics to implement a soft war.”
Another commander who has been vocal in expressing the views of the IRGC is Mohammad Hossein Saffar Herandi, the advisor to the IRGC commander. After being removed as the minister of culture, he returned to the IRGC and was appointed advisor to the leadership of the force. Herandi was the head of the IRGC political office between 1989 and 1993. When he returned to the force after a stint in Ahmadinejad’s administration, he too launched verbal accusations on many reformers and political activists. His attacks included those on veteran politician and two-time president and Majlis speaker, Hashemi Rafsanjani who now heads the Expediency Council on Leadership. He accused Rafsanjani of striving to weaken the powers of the supreme leader. Just last week, Herandi again attacked Rafsanjani and charged that, “the enemies focused on the prominent personalities of the regime and presented the view that the spiritual leader rested with the velayat faghih (i.e., supreme leader) while the political leadership rested with Mr. Rafsanjani, so as to present a dual regime in Iran which has unfortunately not been disclaimed by Rafsanjani and his associates.” In his more recent remarks, Herandi implicitly called for the removal of Rafsanjani as the head of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership which constitutionally is empowered to supervise the work of the supreme leader and confirm his status. “Mr. Rafsanjani has a shining record in the revolution, but we miss those days and must find him only in the records,” implying that he no longer has a shinning positive record because of his implicit and indirect acknowledgement of the issues related to the 2009 presidential election and the over reaches of the current administration.
It should be noted that the supreme IRGC commander General Mohammad Ali Jaafari too has engaged in publicly attacking Iranian reform leaders by name. He has named Mohammad Khatami, ayatollah Mousavi Khoeniha, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Behzad Nabavi, Abolfazl Fateh, and Mehdi Hashemi, among others, as activists who had planned to unseat the country’s supreme leader.
Last year, a person who was simply announced as General Moshafagh repeated these same accusations against dissidents and pro-democracy leaders but also named specific organizations, including Majmae Rohaniyun Mobarez (the Combatant Clergy), Majmae Niroohaye Khate Imam (Coalition of Forces Following the Path of the Imam), Mosharekat party, Mojahed Enghelabe Eslami (the Mujahidin of the Islamic Revolution), Kargozaran (Executives of Construction) and others as having a hand in planning to overthrow the regime and the supreme leader adding, “We (IRGC) stopped their (reformists) efforts to accomplish this.”
A similar charge against these organizations had been made earlier by the commander of the IRGC which had prompted in an official response by seven reformist political activists who filed a court suit against the IRGC supreme commander. Soon after that, the complainants were arrested and sent to prison, as these accusations against protesting civil activists continue by IRGC commanders and authorities.