NewsSpecial WireMassive purges add to power of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

Massive purges add to power of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Dec. 02 – Several hundred officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the military force that has served as the main pillar of support for Iran’s clerical rulers, have been appointed to senior government positions by the hard-line administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran Focus has learnt. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Dec. 02 – Several hundred officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the military force that has served as the main pillar of support for Iran’s clerical rulers, have been appointed to senior government positions by the hard-line administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran Focus has learnt.

President Ahmadinejad is spearheading an unprecedented purge of officials appointed by his two predecessors, Mohammad Khatami and Ali-Akbar Rafsanjani, and they are being replaced by Revolutionary Guards officers.

“He [Ahmadinejad”> is virtually handing over the bureaucracy to Sepah (IRGC) and the consequences are going to be huge”, a former official with close ties to Hashemi Rafsanjani told Iran Focus. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said, “Anyone seen as a protégé of Hashemi [Rafsanjani”> is being booted out without any hesitation”.

The official explained that certain domains of the economy and foreign policy, including the oil and banking sectors, have been under Rafsanjani’s control on the basis of an unwritten agreement between the former president and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The latest purges have wrested control of the most important economic sectors from Rafsanjani’s entourage, including his sons.

Ahmadinejad’s Foreign Ministry has already announced the recall of around 40 ambassadors and senior diplomats. The Interior Ministry has been changing provincial governors and security officials and other ministries have witnessed similar purges.

Culture Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi criticised the former government for allowing un-Islamic works to be published and performed and said he was replacing most key officials in the ministry.

Most of the new deputy ministers, governors, and directors of state institutions are from the Revolutionary Guards. At least 11 ministers in Ahmadinejad’s cabinet are former senior officers of the IRGC and its affiliated agencies.

Iran Focus reported last month that 75 percent of the ministers and deputy ministers in the new government come from the Revolutionary Guards.

The former official who spoke to Iran Focus said the Supreme Leader was the driving force behind the purges.

“They planned the purges well before the [presidential”> elections in June”, the official said. “First they seriously undermined Hashemi [Rafsanjani”> by handing him an embarrassing defeat in the elections. Then they mounted a huge ‘anti-corruption’ media campaign, targeting Hashemi’s sons and friends. Next, they purged all his protégés. Now they are prodding the judiciary to publish the ‘list of corrupt officials’ that they have prepared as another blow to Hashemi”.

Rafsanjani publicly rebuked the massive purges last month, saying that the purge was “damaging unity in the country and could exacerbate foreign pressure on the Islamic Republic”.

“A current in Iran is trying to banish competent officials and it is harming the country like a plague,” Rafsanjani told a gathering of Friday Prayer leaders on November 16.

Ahmadinejad himself was a senior commander of the IRGC. His official biography noted that he was involved in “extra-territorial operations” by the Revolutionary Guards. The IRGC has carried out many terrorist operations outside Iran against Iranian dissidents and foreign targets, according to Western intelligence sources.

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