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News | Ahmadinejad Camp Attacks Khamenei, Revolutionary Guards

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

02 Feb 2012 23:10Comments

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

N1013474-1796774.jpg11:10 p.m., 13 Bahman/February 2 As noted here, on December 30 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with his supporters and campaign team for the upcoming Majles elections. During the meeting, the president's supporters shouted many times, "Ahmadi[nejad] the idol breaker, shatter the great idol!" Khabar Online, the website that is close to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani, reported that in response Ahmadinejad made a provocative statement: "Velaayat [rule of the Islamic jurist] belongs to humanity, and does not belong to a particular person" -- an implicit but clear challenge to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In the same gathering Ahmadinejad was reported as saying, "We have confronted the United States and have broken the backs of all the monsters. The 'great idol' is nothing [compared to them]." At first it was not clear whom Ahmadinejad's supporters meant by the "great idol." Before the June 2009 presidential election the phrase was invoked to refer to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad's great nemesis, but many thought that it is highly unlikely that Ahmadinejad is now referring to him, since Rafsanjani has lost most of his power base in the regime. Based on a more careful examination of Ahmadinejad's pronouncements over the last few months, both in public and private statements that have leaked to the mass media, it appears that he was, in fact, referring to Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad has said, "He intervenes in every major or minor problem; it is now more than 20 years, is it not enough?" Khamenei has been in power for 23 years. Ahmadinejad has also said, "Over night they become an ayatollah -- pardon me, grand ayatollah -- [and] expect to be asked for permission for everything, even for drinking water." Until June 4, 1989, the day Khamenei was appointed Supreme Leader, he was a hojatoleslam, a clerical rank below that of ayatollah. But as of his appointment, he has been referred to as ayatollah, grand ayatollah, and even Imam, as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was commonly called. Ahmadinejad has also said that the control of "foreign policy, the key to solving all the problems, which should be in the hands of the President, is elsewhere." Khamenei, who has final say in foreign policy, has reportedly blocked Ahmadinejad's efforts to negotiate with the United States.

Every year on the anniversary of the deaths of Prophet Muhammad and Imam Reza, the Shiites' Eighth Imam, Khamenei travels to Mashhad, his hometown, to visit Imam Reza's shrine. This year the ceremonies were held at the beginning of the week of January 22. Khamenei traveled to Mashhad as usual, but he had to rush back to Tehran after the rate of exchange between the Iranian rial and major foreign currencies such as the U.S. dollar and euro dramatically increased, prompting Iranians to rush to banks to withdraw their savings to purchase hard currencies and putting the regime in very weak position. Baztab-e Emrooz, a website that is close to Mohsen Rezaei, former chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and current secretary-general of the Expediency Discernment Council, reported that "in a meeting between Ahmadinejad and the most senior officials of the political system [Khamenei and his aides], the senior officials told Ahmadinejad that the government is partly responsible for the chaos in the gold and currency market, [by which it hopes] to blow out of proportion the effect of the sanctions imposed on Iran, so that the political system [Khamenei] will retreat from its hardline position." This is in line with what I told National Public Radio last Wednesday, that Ahmadinejad and his team are partly responsible for generating the chaos in the currency and gold market for their own political benefit. (See also "Funny Money")

Political polarization

On the other hand, the pro-Ahmadinejad websites have been accused of starting a campaign that pits him and his supporters against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Sepah, one of Khamenei's main bases of support, thereby polarizing the political arena. A report by the Students News Agency (SNN), a pro-Khamenei website, claimed that the "perverted group [the phrase used by Khamenei's supporters to refer to Ahmadinejad's camp] has been creating economic challenges and problems in order to blame Sepah and the Basij militia as the main causes to the instability."

Raha Press, a newly founded pro-Ahmadinejad website, seemed to cherish the accusation, speculating on a "dangerous and inauspicious plan," dubbed "plan H," by "part of a certain organ," presumably the Revolutionary Guards' intelligence division, that led Ahmadinejad to arrange a meeting with "the most senior official of that organ," during which the president strongly protested what was going on. According to Raha Press, "an extremist group" has taken control of a vital part of the organ, and has targeted "the country's main center of intelligence and security" -- the Ministry of Intelligence. The Guards' intelligence unit is led by Hossein Taeb, an ardent foe of Ahmadinejad, who has been accused of subverting the ministry.

In another attack, Super Enherafi (Super Deviants, referring to the phrase used by Khamenei supporters to refer to Ahmadinejad's camp), a pro-Ahmadinejad website implicitly accused the Guards of "depositing vast sums, earned through illegal imports, in banks and of pressuring Ahmadinejad to increase the interest rates on bank accounts." Many political figures, both in the oppositions and in Ahmadinejad's camp, including the president himself, have previously accused the Guards of controlling nearly 70 ports outside the control of the official customs office and using them to enrich themselves via the import of cheap products from east Asia. Super Enherafi seems to be alluding to this.

Fars also reported that "the deviant group has drawn up an extensive plan to clean up its footprints in the chaos of the currency and gold market by creating a multilayer political waves against a 'revolutionary organ'" -- meaning the Revolutionary Guards. Fars added that "the plan is being executed at two levels, in the political arena and in the mass media, and will go public on Saturday, February 4." Fars also accused the group of trying to polarize the society, claiming that the group will soon produce a "bulletin" against a "revolutionary organization" that will be published in a "newspaper," meaning the state-owned Iran, whose managing editor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, is an ardent Ahmadinejad supporter. According to Fars, after publishing the bulletin, there will be "a wave of attack" against the revolutionary organization that will continue for one month -- that is, until the Majles elections on March 3.

The two-headed snake

Perhaps the most interesting charge from the pro-Ahmadinejad camp was made by Raha Press, which referred to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a "two-headed snake." It accused "M. Z." -- the cleric Mojtaba Zolnour, Khamenei's former deputy representative to the Guards -- of "resigning, like many others, from a specific organ [the Guards] in order to give religious sermons and carry out his main mission, namely, destroying the government, the servant of the nation." The two heads of the snake are thus presumably the Guards and pro-Khamenei clerics. Raha Press claimed that in many voting districts, the qualifications of all the candidates of a "certain organ" -- again meaning the Guards -- have been accepted, while those from Ahmadinejad's camp have been rejected.

Newspaper claims Ahmadinejad adversaries endanger his life

On Tuesday, Iran accused the hardliners who oppose Ahmadinejad of "forming a group similar to Mehdi Hashemi's group that is trying to disrupt the work of the government. If it continues this activity, Dr. Ahmadinejad will be forced to talk about it with the nation." It accused Deputy Majles Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar of making statements concerning the Ahmadinejad administration that have undermined national security, and accused the president's opponents of behavior that could lead to his assassination.

Mehdi Hashemi was a radical revolutionary and a brother of Hadi Hashemi, a son-in-law of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Dismayed by the Iran-Contra affair and the rapprochement between Iran and the United States (in which even Israel was involved), on November 3, 1986, he leaked information about the affair to the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shira'a, which revealed the entire scheme, as well as revolutionary Iran's other dealings with Israel. One of the first prominent Iranians to be labeled a "deviant," he was executed on September 28, 1987.

In another article, Iran accused Khamenei supporters of trying to control Ahmadinejad. Apparently, the paper was forced to delete certain parts of the item due to "some [national] expediency," because Raha Press published what it claimed to be the complete article, which charged Ahmadinejad's opponents with aiming to stack the next Majles with confrontational deputies, to the extent that "if Ahmadinejad said it is daytime now, they would say no, it is nighttime." The article then accused Ahmadinejad's opponents of likening his supporters to an apple of which half -- the perverted group -- is already rotten, and infesting the other half -- the government itself.

As the Majles elections approach, the confrontation between the two camps is heating up. As noted here last March, Brigadier General Salar Abnoush, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Saheb ol-Amr division in Qazvin, 100 miles west of Tehran, said that if the results of the elections are not compatible "with our values," there will be bloodshed. The reason, he said, is that "there will be infighting in the Majles that will allow the sedition [the Green Movement] to rise up again." We may be approaching that point.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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