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IRGC declares open war on the reform movement

05 Sep 2009 11:182 Comments

Nikahang Kowsar/Roozonline

Reporting from Tehran | 5 Sept 2009

The emergence of Mohammad-Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, as the new spokesman for the right-wing establishment push against the reformists may have brought the Guards into the open as the prime movers in attempts to deliver the opposition a killer blow.

This week, under the cover of Iran's skewed and subservient semi-official media, top guardsman Jafari issued a forceful attack on senior reformists, former President Mohammad Khatami and Secretary General of the Assembly of Combatant Clerics, Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi-Khoeniha.

Referring to evidence no more substantial than the confession extracted from high-profile detainee Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, Jafari claimed that the real target of the opposition had, from the beginning, been the Office of the Supreme Leader.

In Jafari's words, Khatami said at the beginning of this year that "if Ahmadinejad falls in this election, the Supreme Leader will effectively be removed."

"The fall of the Principlists will mean the end of the power of the Supreme Leadership," Jafari claimed Khatami had said. The aim of the reform movement was to "remove the title of Supreme Leader" and turn Iran's religious system into a secular one.

"Khoeniha has to understand that it is not possible to pull this nation in any direction he wants... Khatami and his allies know this from experience," Jafari said, a barely concealed reference to the power which Iran's hardliners brought to bear to stifle the intended

reforms of the Khatami presidency and which now the Revolutionary Guards appear well prepared to wield even more forcefully, once again.

In a break with past statements from the hardline camp, Jafari's remarks contained remarkably few references to foreign enemies.

Perhaps this was a nod to Ayatollah Khamenei's announcement that "it had not been proved" for him that the leaders of the opposition had been influenced by foreign powers after all. So much the worse for the reformists who are now accused of themselves plotting the fall of the regime. The enemy is within, was the implication.

If perhaps senior clerics such as Khatami and Khoeniha are, for the time being, out of reach, Jafari also provided clear signs of who would take the brunt of these new accusations. Jafari quoted Behzad Nabavi who apparently said before the election that the reform movement had to do all it could to "make sure that Ahmadinejad gets the Supreme Leader's backing so that if he is defeated, the Supreme Leadership will be defeated."

Arguably, this support had been in place ever since Ahmadinejad's surprise victory in the presidential election of 2005. Jafari's bizarre reversal of responsibility is a testament to the confidence that Iran's hardliners now have to rewrite the country's recent history to their own political ends.

With Jafari also claiming that Mostafa Tajzadeh had made similar remarks against the Supreme Leader, two opposition figures are finally accused of a clear crime -- a crime that carries the death penalty. This has coincided with reports this week that certain opposition figures, such as Saeed Hajjarian and Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, could be released by the end

of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on the order of Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani.

However, the same reports indicate that this grand gesture will not extend to the two men who Jafari has placed firmly in the stocks. Nabavi and Tajzadeh will likely remain in custody and play a starring role in the denouement of a series of highly questionable trials which have largely disposed of legal process, trials which have instead emphasized spectacle and continue to send clearly intended shock waves far beyond the walls of the courtroom in which they have been held.

The Assembly of Combatant Clerics on Wednesday summoned up all the indignation it could to issue a statement in response to what they called Jafari's "insensitive statements and numerous insults."

"The Revolutionary Guards have become a tool in the pursuit of deceitful political aims," the statement reads. Jafari's words contain the "foundations for a dangerous plan," it said.

In a plaintive appeal to the head of Iran's judiciary, the statement asks, "what should be done against these incorrect and aggressive moves?"

But perhaps reformists are not the only ones who should be preparing themselves for an onslaught from the Revolutionary Guards. In the same press conference, Jafari also held forth on the controversy surrounding the appointment by President Ahmadinejad of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei as Vice-President.

"Of course Mr. Ahmadinejad has his own reasons and opinions... but some of his behavior over the Mashaei issue was indefensible," Jafari said.

It may be that the Revolutionary Guards see few limits on their future role in Iran's political system.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

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An ideologically & financially motivated army and intelligence apparatus is a dangerous scenario for any country. In my opinion, this is the greatest challenge to removing the islamic dictatorship from Iran.

Maziar / September 5, 2009 11:32 AM

I agree with Maziar. It's not just a dictatorship. It's a militaristic, Islamic dictatorship.

Neda / September 6, 2009 11:17 PM