NewsSpecial WireIran puts police under Revolutionary Guards control

Iran puts police under Revolutionary Guards control

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Iran Focus: London, Jul. 10 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed a top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as the country’s new police chief, the state-run news agency reported. In a decree that was read out on the state radio, Ayatollah Khamenei said the police forces’ top priority was “to create security all over the country at a level worthy of the Islamic Republic”. Brigadier General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the number two in the paramilitary Bassij and commander of the force in Greater Tehran, is a long-time ally of President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran Focus

London, Jul. 10 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed a top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as the country’s new police chief, the state-run news agency reported.

In a decree that was read out on the state radio, Ayatollah Khamenei said the police forces’ top priority was “to create security all over the country at a level worthy of the Islamic Republic”.

Brigadier General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the number two in the paramilitary Bassij and commander of the force in Greater Tehran, is a long-time ally of President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two worked together closely in the military crackdown on Iran’s autonomy-seeking Kurds in the 1980s, when they were both Revolutionary Guards commanders based in Hamzeh Garrison near the north-western city of Orumieh.

The appointment of Ahmadi Moghaddam, who is among the top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and a protégé of IRGC Commandant General Rahim Safavi, brings the country’s police force under the complete domination of the Revolutionary Guards and signals a readiness to crack down harder on what the ultra-conservatives see as “deviation” from the country’s rigid religious laws.

“This is part of an overall trend to extend IRGC hegemony over all military, intelligence and even civilian institutions”, said Farhad Nasseri, an Iranian analyst based in Dubai. “Ayatollah Khamenei is taking no chances. He wants his own men in control everywhere”.

Ahmadi Moghaddam played a key role in the nation-wide mobilisation of 300,000 members of the Revolutionary Guards and the paramilitary Bassij that pushed Ahmadinejad to the second slot in the first round of the clerical regime’s presidential elections on June 17, and then propelled him to victory over ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani a week later.

In an official letter of protest addressed to Interior Minister Moussavi Lari, Rafsanjani’s campaign chairman, Mahmoud Vaezi, listed a number of “irregularities and fraudulent practices” just ahead of the second round of the poll. He specifically mentioned “a speech by Mr. Ahmadi Moghaddam, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Bassij in Tehran, at a meeting of Bassij commanders”.

The website Hatef, run by Rafsanjani’s entourage, revealed that Ahmadi Moghaddam had told the Bassij commanders that “Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani has recently sent his son to Europe under the pretext of business assignment, and in this trip, his son has received promises from European governments that they would support Rafsanjani”.

Ahmadi Moghaddam’s role in the February 2003 parliamentary elections was also critical in helping to secure seats for the ultra-conservative candidates by making use of the paramilitary forces. When faced with criticism over his role, he said, “These allegations are not true and some people are trying to downplay the large voter turnout by making such accusations. They spread rumours that the military intervened in the elections on an extensive scale and thereby want to test the reaction of military commanders”.

After the recent presidential elections, Ahmadi Moghaddam again faced a barrage of criticism over his forces’ role in the elections. He said, “The claims that the Bassij engaged in electoral fraud are part of a vast campaign against the Bassij and its members. Some people want to create a crisis even before election results are announced”.

Ahmadi Moghaddam has frequently praised Ahmadinejad as “a model administrator with Bassiji spirit”. He said, “The Mayor of Tehran has gained popularity among the people and we must learn from him”.

Ahmadi Moghaddam’s pronouncements on domestic and international issues have the same radical hue that characterises the newly-elected president’s. Two years ago, he scolded hostage-takers who were saying it was a mistake to seize the U.S. embassy and hold its occupants hostage for 444 days back in 1979. Ahmadi Moghaddam told a gathering of Bassij troopers in the town of Khomein, “Some people inside the country have turned their backs on Imam Khomeini and are now saying that they regret that they once climbed over the wall of the U.S. nest of spies”.

In November 2004, Ahmadi Moghaddam said in a speech, “A country where liberal ideas rule will get no where”. (Quoted in the daily Kayhan, Nov. 27, 2004)

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf stepped down as the country’s police chief earlier this year to run in the June presidential elections.

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