tehranbureau An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora
nextback

News | Deaths and Divisions in the Revolutionary Guards

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

28 Jan 2012 20:40Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

khamenei007.jpg8:40 p.m., 8 Bahman/January 28 Over the last few days, four former commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps passed away without the usual condolences to their families from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Moreover, Guard chief Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari and former IRGC chief Major General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, now senior military adviser to Khamenei, did not bother to attend their colleagues' memorials either.

It didn't go unnoticed, however, that Khamenei then conveyed his condolences to Ali Fadavi, commander of the IRGC naval forces, whose father recently died.

The four who had apparently fallen from the good graces of the Supreme Leader were Mansoor Torkan, Dr. Vafa Ghaffarian, Ahmad Sayyafzadeh, and Abbas Mohri.

Torkan, 50, chief operating officer of Yadman-e Sazeh Company, affiliated with the Tehran municipality, died on January 20 of an apparent stroke. He and his brothers fought in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Two were killed in combat. Another brother, Akbar Torkan, has served in several administrations since the 1979 Revolution.

Ghaffarian, 52, board chairman of the Telecommunications Company of Iran, passed away on January 21. After graduating with a degree in electronics, Ghaffarian joined the IRGC and played an important role in its electronic warfare during the war with Iraq. He was also deputy minister of defense for research and development in 2004-5, and also taught at Malek-e Ashtar University which is controlled by the IRGC, after receiving a Ph.D. in industrial engineering.

Sayyafzadeh, 55, a senior IRGC commander during the war, died on January 23. During the war, he was the operational commander of the IRGC in Ahvaz, the provincial capital of Khuzestan, which is in southwest Iran, and later the operational commander of the IRGC in Khuzestan. He was also in charge of planning and operation of the Najaf and Karbala military bases. He took part in some of the most important operations during the war, and was inured repeatedly during the war, particularly as a result of Iraq using chemical bombs and ammunition.

Mohri, 52, a senior IRGC commander during the war, died on January 24. No cause of death was given. At the time of his death, Mohri was deputy Dean of Faculty of Culture in Emam Hossein University, where many hardliners have studied and received their degrees.

Hossein Alaei, the first commander of the IRGC naval forces, who wrote a scathing article in Ettela'at newspaper two weeks ago implicitly criticizing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, paid tribute to Sayyafzadeh. "He participated in all the important operations against the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hossein," he wrote. After his controversial article in Ettela'at angered the hardliners, including 12 IRGC commanders, Alaei published another article, this time in Jomhoori Eslami newspaper, emphasizing once again that "all dictators will be toppled." He also said he wondered whether "we will witness the overthrow of another dictator by next February [of 2013]." A group of families of IRGC officers and commanders who have been killed in the past, have written a letter to Alaei, declaring their support for him.

Sayyafzadeh and Mohri were very important IRGC commanders during the war. Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani did send his condolences to the families of the two men.

More IRGC deaths

Over the past 15 months, four other IRGC commanders, past and present, have also died. In April 2011, three IRGC officers, including Colonel Seyyed Ali Shadmehr, who was an IRGC commander during the war with Iraq, were killed in a car crash.

Earlier, in November 2010, Brigadier General Seyyed Mohammad Ali Mousavi Shushtari, 47, deputy commander of the IRGC ground forces for intelligence, passed away. ISNA, the Iranian Students News Agency, reported that he had been ill, but did not specify the cause of his death.

On January 9, 2009, an aircraft carrying 11 IRGC officers crashed and killed all of them: eight brigadier generals, one lieutenant brigadier general, and one colonel. The senior IRGC commanders among them included Brigadier General Ahmad Kazemi [he was promoted to Major General posthumously]; commander of the IRGC ground forces and deputy chief of the IRGC; Brigadier General Saeed Moatamedi, commander of the mechanized Mohammad Rasoolallah Division; and Brigadier General Saeed Soleimani, deputy commander of the IRGC ground forces for operations.

Kazemi was a very important IRGC commander during the war with Iraq, and his death sparked intense speculations. The air crash was shrouded in secrecy. Brigadier General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, IRGC chief at that time, said that the cause of the crash was "an explosion inside the aircraft," but did not divulge more details. Earlier, the IRGC said that the crash had been caused by "mechanical problems." Rahim-Safavi never mentioned the explosion ever again.

***

Press TV, the English-language subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, reports,

An informed source in Lebanon says the five Iranian engineers who were kidnapped in Syria last December have been relocated to northern Lebanon, Press TV has reported.

A tribal figure in northern Lebanon, speaking on condition of anonymity, made the revelation to a Press TV correspondent on Friday.

On December 21, 2011, five Iranian electrical engineers were kidnapped by armed gunmen while travelling to a power plant in the Syrian city of Homs.

Later, two other Iranians, who were trying to obtain information about the missing men, were also kidnapped, and their whereabouts are still unknown.

Fighters with the rebel Free Syrian Army, which has taken responsibility for capturing the five Iranians, claim that the men are in fact soldiers who participated in the Syrian regime's deadly crackdown on the opposition in Homs.

***

Ahmadinejad's supporters accuse the IRGC

The websites that support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have accused the IRGC of causing the dramatic rise in the exchange rate between Iran's rial and major Western currencies, including the U.S. dollar. Without naming the Guards, an item on Super Enherafi declared that of the $20 billion worth of products and commodities that are imported illegally every year "90 percent belongs to our own brothers," and that "there is a chain of economic organizations and companies, and people who are everywhere, including in the Majles and the judiciary, support this." In December, Ahmadinejad implicitly criticized the IRGC in a similar fashion, saying that "under the guise of importing classified products for the military, they import makeup" for women from seaports in southern Iran. Two days ago, he again indirectly accused the IRGC of having a hand in the currency market's recent chaos.

Zamire Khodagah, another pro-Ahmadinejad website, said that due to pressure, the president has had to temporarily "retreat" from his economic positions and agree to increase the interest on saving accounts to 21 percent annually. The previous rate was 12 percent, which had made saving accounts unattractive at a time when inflation is around 25-30 percent. The low interest rate was partly responsible for the rush to buy gold and foreign currencies.

Ten million people eliminated from cash handout rolls

Fulfilling a plan announced by the president in December, Deputy Economy Minister Mohammad Reza Farzin confirmed that ten million people would no longer receive cash handouts in lieu of subsidies on energy and food items that have been eliminated, because they do not need them. He also said there is no rational economic reason for the recent large fluctuations in the currency market. Meanwhile, Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani and Economy Minister Seyyed Safdar Hosseini, did not go to the Majles as scheduled to discuss the currency market and its effect on the economy.

Hardliners' attacks on Ahmadinejad

Alef, the website that is published by Majles deputy Ahmad Tavakoli, a prominent Ahmadinejad critic, demanded that parliament declare the president incompetent under Article 89 of the Constitution, so that he can be impeached. Hossein Shariatmadari, the hardline managing editor of the newspaper Kayhan, accused Ahmadinejad of working with the United States. Referring to the president and his political associates, he said, "These people are under the illusion that the way to address the current problems is to negotiate with the United States." He accused them of creating a "superficial environment for increasing prices and then claim that this is the consequence of the sanctions," to justify negotiating with the United States. Without naming Ahmadinejad, reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi accused the president and his team of "pursuing their defiled goals under the guise of Islam, while they claim to support the poor and oppressed."

Ahmadinejad: "If I live, you must tolerate me"

In a speech in Kerman on Thursday, Ahmadinejad, referring to those in the regime who oppose him, said, "If I stay alive, you must put up with me until" the end of his second and final term as president. "It is true that you are opposed to me, but I was elected by the Iranian nation," he added. "If you cannot help us, at least do not create problems."

Archive photos: Above, IRGC officers listen to an address by Ayatollah Khamenei. On homepage, Khamenei, then president, with Guard members during the Iran-Iraq War.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

Follow Tehran Bureau on Facebook and Twitter.

SHAREtwitterfacebookSTUMBLEUPONbalatarin reddit digg del.icio.us
blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.