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24 Million = Zero: What the Greens Said Then, What the Hardliners Say Now

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

07 Jun 2011 22:36Comments
KhameneiStareAhmjad.jpgMousavi and Karroubi's charges now echo from the strangest places.

[ comment ] Over a month after the eruption of political furor over the resignation of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi, forced by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his reinstatement by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not only has the long-building conflict between the camps of the president and the Supreme Leader not ended, it has deepened. Not a single day goes by without the two camps threatening each other. One of the most important fruits of the confrontation has been the revelation of how accurate were all the charges made by the Green Movement, before, during, and in the aftermath of the rigged presidential election of 2009.

The second anniversary of the rigged election approaches. As I pointed out a year ago, one significant effect of the Green Movement has been the widening of fissures in the conservative camp and among the hardliners, which will ultimately benefit the people. It is thus instructive to go back two years and reconsider what the Green Movement leaders and their supporters were saying, and then examine the current state of affairs.

What did the Green Movement say about Ahmadinejad?

What were the Green Movement's charges concerning Ahmadinejad in general and the 2009 elections in particular?

(i) The hardliners, led by top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij militia, as well as high officials of the Ministry of Intelligence -- the cabal that the reformists refer to as the "Barrack Party" -- had planned for months to thwart any attempt by the camps of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi to monitor the election and prevent fraud, thus ensuring the "reelection" of Ahmadinejad.

(ii) Ahmadinejad is not a statesman of the caliber that the Constitution stipulates presidential candidates must be.

(iii) The Ahmadinejad administration breaks the laws on a regular basis and commits fraud in elections.

(iv) The Ahmadinejad administration represents the most financially corrupt administration since the 1979 Revolution, not to mention its utter incompetence in managing the economy.

(v) Ahmadinejad and his inner circle resort to superstition, exorcism, and geomancy to make their decisions about important national issues.

(vi) The Ahmadinejad administration grants large contracts to foreign companies, well below their true value, in order to create the impression that it has a successful foreign policy.

(vii) Had it not been for Khamenei's support, vote manipulations by the Ministry of Interior, and legal hurdles raised by the Guardian Council against a vote recount, the election, at the absolute minimum, would have continued to the second round, pitting Mousavi against Ahmadinejad.

(viii) Khamenei supported Ahmadinejad because he was aware that if Mousavi won the election, he would eliminate, or at least severely limit, the office of the Velaayat-e Faghih -- rule of the Islamic jurist, represented by the Supreme Leader.

(ix) All the hardliners' claims about Ahmadinejad legitimately receiving close to 24 million votes in 2009 are just that, claims. Even if he did receive that many votes -- which he did not -- they mean nothing. The only thing that matters is obedience to Khamenei.

What are the hardliners saying now?

Let us now consider the evidence for the accuracy of the Green Movement's charges. One compelling gauge is considering what the hardliners -- Ahmadinejad's former supporters -- now have to say.

(i) Two important sets of evidence for the plan to rig the 2009 election have emerged, even if we overlook all the other evidence that has long been apparent. One was a speech by a hitherto little known Revolutionary Guard officer, Sardar (commander) Moshfegh, in Mashhad a few months after the election in the fall of 2009. Moshfegh is a pseudonym. His true name is Abdollah Zighami and at the time of his speech he was deputy commander of the command center of the Guards' Saarallah Corps. In his speech, Moshfegh described in great detail the powerful, behind-the-scenes organization that the Guards and Basij had created months before the election in order to prevent the victory of any candidate that the reformists might put up. The speech led to a lawsuit by seven leading reformist political figures against top Guard commanders for their intervention in the election and its aftermath. The seven plaintiffs included four members of the Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin -- Behzad Nabavi, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Dr. Mohsen Aminzadeh, and Fayzollah Arabsorkhi -- and three members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front -- Dr. Mohsen Mirdamadi, Dr. Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, and Mohsen Safaei Farahani. Both organizations have been outlawed and all seven plaintiffs were arrested almost immediately after the election. After Stalinist-style show trials, they were all given long prison sentences and are currently incarcerated. The judiciary never took any action on the lawsuit.

The second piece of evidence was provided by Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, who was minister of the interior in Mousavi's cabinet in the 1980s, as well as ambassador to Syria. In 2009, he headed the Committee to Protect the People's Vote, organized to help prevent fraud in the presidential election. In a speech released in five parts on YouTube in December 2010, he detailed copious, irrefutable evidence for the large-scale fraud that took place in the 2009 election. After the speech, Mohtashamipour left Iran quietly and now lives in Iraq to escape the wrath of the hardliners. The charges were not, to my knowledge, ever denied.

(ii) The reformists in 2005 and the Green Movement in 2009 declared to the Guardian Council that Ahmadinejad's qualifications for the presidency are not at the level required by the Constitution. On June 16, 2009, when representatives of Mousavi and Karroubi, together with other influential figures, met with Khamenei, they discussed the charge, which was rejected by the ayatollah. What are the hardliners saying now?

The hardline website Asr-e Iran, which is connected with the security forces, said the following about Ahmadinejad and his inner circle in an editorial: "Politicians with illusions beware: Officials more important than you were eliminated." Many top Guard commanders have made it clear that they do not think of Ahmadinejad very highly and that they supported him mostly out of their loyalty to Khamenei and fear of a Mousavi presidency.

Majles deputy and Ahmadinejad critic Ahmad Tavakoli recently revealed an important piece of information regarding the conservatives' thinking about the 2009 presidential election. He said that he had told people at the time, "Mousavi has a social base that, even if he does not want to, can be mobilized against the Leader, whereas Ahmadinejad does not have any social base that, even if he wants to, can be mobilized against the Leader." That is how "highly" Ahmadinejad is regarded by the conservative and hardline camp.

(iii) The first nationwide elections overseen by the Ahmadinejad administration were in December 2006 for the city councils around the country, as well as the Assembly of Experts. Ahmadinejad's sister, Parvin, was a candidate for the Tehran City Council. For weeks she traveled with her brother, who kept claiming that she would receive the highest number of votes, simply by virtue of being the president's sister. Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor at that time, the reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who was running for the Assembly of Experts from Tehran, was also promoted as the possible highest vote getter. So what happened? Evidence indicates that eight reformist candidates were the top vote getters for the Tehran council, but the Interior Ministry manipulated the votes to reduce their number to four. It also manipulated the vote so that Parvin Ahmadinejad could be elected as the eighth out of the 15 members for Tehran City Council. The tally was also reportedly changed for Mesbah Yazdi's benefit, with votes cast for another clerical candidate, Gholam Reza Mesbahi, counted for him.

Then in 2008, elections were held for the Eighth Majles. Once again, the votes appeared to have been manipulated on a large scale, so that neither the reformist nor the conservative critics of Ahmadinejad could win election. The irregularities were glaring enough that Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, then interior minister, was forced to report them to Khamenei. Ahmadinejad promptly fired him in August 2008.

Given that record, the Green Movement warned in 2009 that Ahmadinejad and the Ministry of Interior could not be trusted. The interior minister was Sadegh Mahsouli -- Ahmadinejad's friend who, with his help, became fabulously rich and earned the nickname of the "billionaire minister" -- and the man in charge of the elections was Kamran Daneshjou - the current minister of sciences, research, and technology, and another close confidant of Ahmadinejad. Add to this the fact that Ahmadinejad himself was a candidate, and seven out of 12 members of the Guardian Council -- the organ that must neutrally certify the election results -- had publicly declared, against the law, their support for him. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned Khamenei about the possibility of fraud in a letter a week before the election. The Supreme Leader rejected all the warnings.

In his June 19 sermon during Friday Prayers at the University of Tehran, Khamenei said that he found it impossible to believe that cheating was so extensive that it had altered 11 million votes, the difference between Mousavi's total -- as declared by the Ministry of Interior -- and Ahmadinejad's claimed 24 million. He did not realize that a difference of 4.5 million votes would have sent the election into the second round, and later on the Guardian Council admitted that up to three million votes could be questioned, after recounting only a small fraction of the votes. So what are the hardliners saying now?

Majles deputy Ali Akbar Olia said that the investigation by the Majles indicates that right before the 2009 presidential election the government paid 80,000 tomans (roughly $80) each to nine million people, without justification. The money was paid under the guise of "profits" for the so-called "justice shares" that the government had distributed widely, whereas the investigation indicated that there was no profit to pay out.

As the saying goes, "What goes around comes around." The same hardliners who knew Ahmadinejad made illegal use of national resources are now afraid that he and his group will also resort to fraud in the upcoming Majles elections scheduled for March 3, 2012.

Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, the conservative cleric and Majles deputy, accused Mashaei of using public resources for the next Majles elections. Asadollah Badamchain, a conservative Majles deputy and influential member of the Islamic Coalition Party (ICP), said that a list of 13 names has been presented to the president, from which he should select three, who would work with Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, former Majles speaker; Ali Akbar Velayati and, former foreign minister and current senior foreign policy advisor to Khamanei; and Habibollah Asgar Oladi, former secretary-general of the ICP. Badamchian said, "The group will not intervene in the elections, but establish the [right] environment in the government to supervise the elections, because some provincial governors, and city and village governors, may illegally intervene in the elections. The government, and in particular those who are close to the president, should avoid any activity that could create the impression that they are trying to influence the outcome of the Majles elections." In effect, what Khamenei's conservative supporters are trying to do is form a committee that oversees the vote and does not allow Ahmadinejad and his team to manipulate it, the same thing that Mohtashamipour and the reformists attempted in the 2009 elections, but were prevented from doing.

The daily Javan, a Revolutionary Guard mouthpiece, accused Ahmadinejad, without naming him, and his team of pursuing an ongoing challenge against Khamenei. In his article, Jafar Takbiri wrote, "The perverted group of Principlists has mounted a permanent challenge [to the Supreme Leader] and created problems to make the situation murky and take advantage of the situation to attain their goals for the Ninth Majles elections and the tenth presidential election [in 2013]."

Several other Majles deputies have also expressed concerns that the government will interfere in the elections for the Ninth Majles. Jafar Ghaderi, deputy from Shiraz, said that the provincial governor of Fars is trying to put up candidates that support him (and hence Ahmadinejad). He also said that every interview that the governor grants "smells like and has the color of an election campaign." Another deputy, Seyyed Fazel Mousavi from Khoda Bandeh in Khuzestan province, said that there is a particular group that is extensively lobbying and trying to use government resources to win several seats in the next parliament. "The governor has officially ordered his people not to work with any group for the next Majles that opposes the government," he said.

Hassan Sobhaninia, a Majles deputy from Neishabour, said on May 27 that several members of the "perverted group" have been arrested and are being interrogated. "Given the connections that this group has, the trust that it has attracted, and its economic resources, this group is preparing itself for the next Majles elections," he surmised. And in a speech to the Majles deputies two days later, Khamenei said, "No one should, in any shape or form, intervene in the elections, so that the elections can be held according to the laws and the Majles can be elected by the people's vote" -- a warning he has never previously felt compelled to deliver.

As for breaking other laws, here is what Mohammad Reza Bahonar, deputy speaker of the Majles said: the ninth and tenth administrations -- those of Ahmadinejad -- have set a "very high record" for the number of times they have broken the laws. He declared, "We will use all of our monitoring and legal powers to prevent the lawbreaking.... But if it continues, we will pursue legal elimination by questioning, warning, and investigating the administration and ultimately by impeaching it."

Fash News, the website close to Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, former editor of Kayhan, Ahmadinejad's first minister of culture and Islamic guidance, and current deputy for cultural affairs to Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards' top commander, referred to Ahmadinejad's circle as the "coup team." He said the "coup team" wants to take over the Martyr Foundation, which cares for veterans of the Iran-Iraq War and the families of those slain in the conflict. The foundation controls vast real estate holdings. Referring to Masoud Zaribafan, the head of the foundation and a former Ahmadinejad ally, Fash declares that "criticisms of Zaribafan must end, because otherwise that will pave the way for the coup team."

Did the supporters and leadership of the Green Movement not refer to Ahmadinejad's group as the "coup team?"

(iv) As for financial corruption in the Ahmadinejad administration, I have already reported on the issue extensively; see here and here. The following is just a sample.

In February 2009, the Treasury announced that it had a $1 billion shortfall because the government never transferred the money earned from oil exports, as required. The issue has still not been resolved. Ahmadinejad's First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi is under investigation for his role in the embezzlement of up to $1.2 billion. Rahimi, backed by the president, has said that he spent part of the money for Ahmadinejad's reelection campaign. Either he is telling the truth, or he is not. If he is, this would be more evidence of fraud in the 2009 election. If he is not, then Rahimi and, by extension, Ahmadinejad must reveal the truth about the embezzled money.

MashaeiAhmjadBaghaei.jpgAlef, the website published by Ahmad Tavakoli, reported on an apparently major case of financial corruption in which both Mashaei and Hamid Baghaei, one of Ahmadinejad's eight vice presidents and a close confidant, have allegedly played major roles. (In the accompanying image, Ahmadinejad is seen seated between Mashaei, to the viewer's left, and Baghaei.) According to Alef, the two are major shareholders in a company called Samga, which is supposedly active in the hotel industry, tourism, and cultural activities. According to Alef, the company was established on June 27, 2009, two weeks after the presidential election, with $20 million in initial capital. The new company soon established six subsidiaries, in particular, a private bank called Gardeshgari (tourism), founded with $200 million, which swiftly grew to $600 million. These are astronomical figures in Iran, and it is not clear how Ahmadinejad's aides could have attracted such huge sums. Samga's chief executive officer is Mehdi Jahangiri, a deputy to Mashaei when he headed the Organization for Cultural Heritage and Tourism.

Last March 14, according to Alef, the Ahmadinejad administration approved the transfer to Samga, free of charge, 1,258,000 square meters of land in some of the most prized areas of northern Tehran. An arm of the Majles that inspects such land grants blocked the order. Alef also alleges that the administration gave Samga 31,000 square meters of land, again free of charge, near Tehran's international airport, about 20 miles southwest of the city. The company was authorized to build a hotel there and operate it for 25 years, after which it would be turned over to the government. A hotel is currently under construction at the site.

Alef and other hardline websites have been relentlessly revealing other cases of corruption in the Ahmadinejad administration. First, Alef revealed that a contract was awarded to a newly founded company, without formal bidding, worth 450 million euros to construct the conference center for a meeting of heads of state of nonaligned nations to be held next year on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. The company is owned by an Iranian American friend of Mashaei, Panteha Fivazi Yousefi. Asr-e Iran then demanded that Baghaei, who apparently was instrumental in awarding the contract, address three questions: (1) Even if it was necessary to award the contract without bidding because time was running out, what qualified the company to receive the contract? (2) The contract was awarded for 400 billion tomans (roughly $380 million), but Baghaei asked the minister of economic and financial affairs to provide 450 million euros to finance the construction, equivalent to 742 billion tomans (about $680 million). Why? And what happened to the extra $300 million? (3) According to various estimates, the cost of construction is at most $1,000 for every square meter of Kish Island, which means that the building should cost about $230 million. How will the rest of the funds be spent? Fararu, another conservative website, publicized a copy of a letter by Mashaei to the economic minister, asking him to help a company called Alaghili, which is apparently owned by a man named by Ahmadinejad in 2006 as one of the central culprits in the country's economic corruption.

And judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani has made it clear that the "perverted team" has been involved in vast, as of now unspecified, cases of economic corruption and is under investigation.

(v) In his nationally televised debate with Ahmadinejad a week before the 2009 election, Mousavi accused him of resorting to geomancy to make decisions about the important issues facing the nation, saying that he "runs the most superstitious government" in recent memory. Then, on June 19, a week after the rigged presidential vote, Khamenei responded angrily to the accusation, saying, "They called the president superstitious, involved in geomancy, and other shameful names, violating morality, the law, and fairness." But what are the facts?

One of Ahmadinejad's first pronouncements as president was that Imam Mahdi would return "within two years." Since then he has claimed that the reason the United States invaded Iraq was that it wanted to prevent the Mahdi's return and that he has documents which prove his assertion. He subsequently asserted that the United States is the most important impediment to the return of the Mahdi. In a speech in Mashhad, he declared, "It is Imam Mahdi that runs the world."

Earlier this year, Ahmadinejad's supporters produced a documentary film, The Appearance Is Imminent, which claims that the return of Imam Mahdi is near, and that Ahmadinejad will be Shoaib ibn Saleh, the figure who will be one of the Imam's closest aides according to Shia mythology. The documentary, produced using state resources and distributed free of charge around the country, angered almost all the major clerics and even many devout but nonpolitical people.

Next, Hossein Fadaei, a hardline Majles deputy with close connections to the Revolutionary Guards, said, "The perverted team has resorted to Satan...."

Then the website Shaffaf, which is close to Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran's mayor and former commander of the Guard air force, reported on the connection between Abbas Ghaffari and Mashaei. Ghaffari has been arrested and accused of involvement with exorcism, spirits, and geomancy. Cleric Abbas Amirifar, who played a leading role in the production of The Appearance Is Imminene, has also been arrested and accused of similar misdeeds.

Neda-ye Enghlelab, a hardline website, reported that Ali Yaghoobi, one of the two people close to Mashaei who has been arrested for being involved in exorcism and associating with djinns, has great influence over many state television programs. Yaghoobi was arrested by Revolutionary Guards in Qom. According to the website, many directors and producers at the national television network are influenced by Yaghoobi, so much so that "if we were to make a list of all such people, it would be too long for this article." And hardly a single day goes by without the hardliners making accusations against the "perverted team" and its members' involvement with superstitious practices.

(vi) One of the main charges against Ahmadinejad by Mousavi, Karroubi, and others in the Green Movement is that, in addition to pursuing an adventurous foreign policy -- if it can even be called that -- Ahmadinejad has been making economic concessions and granting lucrative contracts to foreign governments to buy their favors and proclaim "great" foreign policy successes. It is not clear how much aid the Islamic Republic has provided to Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and other supposed allies in Latin America. The aid could be in the form of cash handouts, a development project, providing oil either for free or below market price, and so forth.

Large oil and gas contracts have been granted to China, and Russia also has been involved in oil and natural gas concessions. Such contracts have angered not only those in the Green Movement, but also the Majles, because the Ahmadinejad administration has not sought parliamentary approval for the agreements and, as a result, many of their aspects remain unclear.

We still do not know the full scope of the agreement with Pakistan for the export of natural gas there. Hadi Nejad Hosseinian, former deputy minister of oil for international affairs, wrote a letter to the Majles last year asked the legislators to oppose the agreement with Pakistan. Mehr, the news agency operated by the Organization for Islamic Propaganda, reported on May 12, 2010, that the agreement was signed in the French Embassy in Islamabad, not in Pakistan's Energy Ministry. The Ministry of Oil denied the report. This eventually led to a discussion in the Majles involving Nejad Hosseinian, then Minister of Oil Masoud Mir Kazemi, and the deputies.

On April 24, a text message was sent from within the Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs to thousands of people around Iran, including many journalists. The text accused Mashaei, among others, of being behind several oil contracts with Chinese and Venezuelan corporations whose details have been kept secret. Ahmadinejad was also accused of being aware of Mashaei's economic activities and of taking no action.

AhmjadKissesKHHand.jpg(vii) In an interview with Shoma, the weekly mouthpiece of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami (no relation to former President Mohammad Khatami), talked about Ahmadinejad and the episode with Moslehi, saying,
We expected the president who, at least in his second term, came to power due to the support of the Velaayat, to obey his order and show up for work immediately.... Who does not know that the rouhaniyat [the clerical circle], at least in his second term, has been the most ardent supporter of the president? Who does not know that Ayatollah [Mohammad Taghi] Mesbah Yazdi is one of the president's strongest supporters?

The interviewer then posed the following to Khatami: "These days there are speculations that Ahmadinejad could have received 35 million votes, but due to his belief in Velaayat, he lost ten million votes. What do you think?" The cleric responded,

I do not know whether the president has actually said so, and I do not want to make any accusations either. But, if this is true, this would be the greatest injustice done to the Supreme Leader. The president and his team know well that if it were not for the support of the Supreme Leader over the past few years, nothing would have been done. [The Supreme Leader] once said, "There has never been such a government since the Constitutional Revolution." He never told anyone whom to vote for. But our people guessed that he supported the president, and based on this guess, they voted for him. If it were not for the support of the Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad would have lost a lot of votes.

Another pro-Khamenei blog, Ermineh, mocked Ahmadinejad, saying that his recent behavior has made Rafsanjani happy and that "you [Ahmadinejad] do not have the support of the majority even in your own family. If you do not believe it, take a poll." This was in response to the president's claim that even now he would win 35 million votes.

(viii) The best evidence for what the Green Movement claimed about Khamenei's support for Ahmadinejad was provided by none other than the president himself. After the Moslehi affair surfaced and Ahmadinejad resisted Khamenei's order to reinstate the minister, the president reportedly told the staff of IRNA, Iran's official news agency -- which is headed by Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a close ally of Ahmadinejad's -- that "Mr. Khamenei kept me as the president to preserve his own forces, because [he knew that] if Mousavi were elected, he would eliminate his [Supreme Leader's] office."

In an article published by the weekly Sobh-e Sadegh, the mouthpiece of the Revolutionary Guards' political directorate, Rasoul Sanaeirad criticized Ahmadinejad, calling him "unappreciative" of Khamenei's support because he "has preferred the interests of the group [around him] over the reality [of the power structure]."

(ix) And the entire confrontation between the two camps has further demonstrated what many people already knew, namely, that the notion of "religious democracy" that Khamenei and his supporters have been boasting about with "30 elections held on time over the past 30 years," as Khamenei recently said, is bogus, because the only thing that matters to this group is absolute obedience to the Supreme Leader. In fact, since the Moslehi affair, the harshest critics of Ahmadinejad have accused him of one thing: disobeying Khamenei. Yes, this is the grave transgression committed by the same man whom they claimed was reelected with 24 million votes. Those votes apparently mean nothing. Just consider a sample of the attacks on Ahmadinejad for his disobedience:

In the same interview with Shoma cited above, Ahmad Khatami said, "In the first cabinet meeting that he attended after ten days [after the Moslehi episode], he emphasized that he obeys the Velaayat. But, unfortunately, he did not do so."

During a Tehran Friday Prayers sermon, Khatami said, "People will support the officials only if they obey the Supreme Leader. According to our Constitution and our religion, the legitimacy of the entire system is linked with the Supreme Leader. The three branches of the government have legitimacy only if the Leader has approved them. Thus obeying the Supreme Leader is required, both legally and religiously."

Kazem Sadighi, the Imam of Tehran's Friday Prayers, said, "His Excellency, Ayatollah Khamenei, is in the 'control tower' and monitors anything that may be against the interests of the society. He does not want anything for himself. Monitoring the president is that control tower.... The relation between the president and the Leader is not one between father and son, because the president is a soldier of Velaayat-e Faghih and obeying him is a must. The president has said the same, but words are not the criterion. We are awaiting action." Kayhan, the mouthpiece of a faction of the security and intelligence apparatus, used this quote as its banner headline on May 8. Sadighi also said, "A war cannot have two commanders."

Deputy Majles Speaker Seyyed Shahabeddin Sadr said, "The legitimacy of anyone who hesitates to obey the Supreme Leader is questionable. More than at any other time, senior officials must obey the Supreme Leader. The legitimacy of all organs of the government and the political system emanates from the Velaayat-e Faghih."

Majles deputy Parviz Sarvari, a former top commander of the Revolutionary Guards, told Yaa Lasaaraat-e Hossein, the weekly published by the hardline paramilitary group Ansaar-e Hezbollah, "Ahmadinejad's team is opposed to the Velaayat-e Faghih, and before it is too late Ahmadinejad must make his decision regarding the team."

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, Khamenei's senior military adviser and another former top Revolutionary Guard commander, went so far as to link Ahmadinejad's supporters with external forces when he said, "Some of the perverted political groups are connected with foreign intelligence services. We obey the Velaayat-e Faghih. But obedience to him [Khamenei] is not just through words, it requires action." Without mentioning the president by name, Rahim Safavi said, "Whoever plays political games with Velaayat-e Faghih will be rejected by the people."

Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, the ultra-hardline head of the Revolutionary Guards' political directorate, described Ahmadinejad's team as "perverted and highly dangerous" because its members do not obey Khamenei. In Yaa Lassaraat-e Hossein, Javani wrote, "Currently there is a corrupted, deceitful, and perverted group within the government that has created some concerns."

And Javan recently declared that "breathing without the consent of Vali-ye Faghih [Khamenei] is worthless and useless." In other words, those 24 million votes that Ahmadinejad supposedly received equal zero.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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