By Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah, Rooz Online
Vahid; A Name That Keeps Reemerging
Ali Khamenei (left) with Vahid (right) during a hike in Sanandaj, western Iran, in May 2009
The just-published letter written by a long-time
close associate of ayatollah Khomeini who was in charge of this year's annual
ceremony marking ayatollah Khomeini's 21st passing anniversary Mohammad Ali
Ansari to seyed Hassan Khomeini, the Islamic republic founder's grandson, is
noteworthy because it not only indicates what took place behind the scenes on
the Friday congregational prayers on June 4th (when Khomeini's grandson was
stopped from delivering his planned and agreed-upon public speech), but also
because for the first time it refers to the official role of a person who is
simply known as "Vahid" and "commander Vahid," who prominently sits in the chain
of command leading to the supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei himself.
Previously, Mir-Hossein Mousavi's campaign spokesperson, Abolfazl Fateh, had referred to "Mr. Vahid" in passing and had mentioned his role in last year's controversial June 12 election. But this new letter (by Ansari), written by a senior member of ayatollah Khomeini's inner circle, throws some light on the hidden relationships of the Iranian regime.
The importance of naming Vahid in Ansari's letter is that unofficial news portals have repeatedly discussed Vahid's influential role in making some of the most important political and security decisions of recent years.
According to these reports, "Vahid Haghanian," known as "Vahid," is the supreme leader's executive deputy, who is known as an extremely influential figure in charge of communicating ayatollah Khamenei's decisions to the various political, security, and military agencies, and for coordinating their efforts. He is generally known as the supreme leader's right hand man or his principal advisor.
Despite his important role, however no information about his is available on official media portals. No senior officials close to ayatollah Khamenei has ever referred to him in his memoirs or writings either. It is also unknown whether he carries the title "commander" because of his previous service in the Islamic Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) or that this is simply an honorary prefix attached to his name.
The initial images that emerged of Vahid in media outlets date back to the day that Ahmadinejad was sworn into office for his second term. On that occasion, Vahid handed ayatollah Khamenei's presidential appointment letter to the ayatollah during the official proclamation ceremony. Other images show many senior officials of the Islamic Republic treating Vahid with utmost respect on different occasions, indicating his stature and proximity to the center of power in Iran.
Regarding earlier references to Vahid, Fateh wrote this in his diary entries for the nights of June 12 and 13, 2009, the nights of the disputed presidential elections: "At about 11pm on Friday, June 12, Mousavi wrote a confidential letter to the supreme leader. I took it to the leader's office and personally gave it to Mr. Vahid. We spoke for a few minutes, and from the tone of Vahid's remarks I realized that the election was over. Vahid said that he had given directions to the interior ministry on how to count the votes, and believed that Mr. Ahmadinejad was the winner in the first round. I told him that all our reports, eyewitness accounts, and logical and statistical inferences completely contradicted what was being announced." Events proved Vahid's perspective, and perhaps determination, to be right, and in any case indicated the views of the leader, to which not many people in Iran have access to or knowledge of.
Of the little that is known about Vahid is that he is from Isfahan and that his father's house was in the southern Monirie district of Tehran.
The letter that Ansari - as the person in charge of ayatollah Khomeini's bereavement ceremonies this year - wrote to the founder's grandson talks of a telephone conversation that he had with Vahid during the Nowruz new year celebrations (March 21) in 2009. Apparently Ansari had called Khamenei's office to enquire about the upcoming celebrations marking Khomeini's death, and since the leader was in Mashhad, spoke to Vahid about it who enquired about the plans for the event. Ansari listed the general activities and preparations and asked that the "high-level issues" be discussed in a direct meeting with him (i.e. Vahid) upon the latter's return to Tehran.
The letter indicates that Vahid was someone with whom "high-level issues" were discussed. Ansari also refers to Vahid's presence in the various talks on the subject to be indicative of the "importance" that was attached to this year's ceremony. In the planning talks for the ceremony, two speakers were proposed for one evening, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vahid, again indicating his stature.
In his letter, Ansari specifically talks about Vahid's instructions not to invite specific individuals to this year's event. The actual events showed who these individuals were, which included Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi, Mohammad Khatami, Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, Abdollah Nouri and other former aides to Khomeini himself.
According to the letter, Vahid's justified his insistence for not inviting some of the individuals on grounds that their presence would be disruptive. Ansari also writes about the obstructive measures that the government, Friday prayers organization (Setade Bargozarie Namaz Jome), and other military and security groups undertook regarding this year's ceremonies and which eventually resulted in the absence of any contacts with Vahid, who was ayatollah Khamenei's representative in the committee for the memorial ceremony of ayatollah Khomeini. Ansari says that ayatollah Khamenei gave specific instructions to Vahid regarding the speech that Hassan Khomeini was planned to give, but which did not take place because Ahmadinejad extended his speech beyond the planned time.
Ansari's letter is the first one to indicate the role and influence that Vahid has and plays in ayatollah Khamenei's office.
Another incident that indicates Vahid's authority is what took place after Mir-Hossein Mousavi's nephew was killed in the post-election riots when security officials were refraining from returning the body of seyed Ali Habibi Mousavi to his next of kin. A call came to Ali Habibi Mousavi's house by someone who said he was a member of ayatollah Khamenei's office and said that "Mr. Vahid intends to speak with Mousavi on behalf of the leader and express the latter's condolences" over the killing of Ali Habibi Mousavi. Mir-Hossein Mousavi was at his nephew's house at the time of the call but declines to speak with the caller and leaves the house on learning that Vahid was on his way there. But he instructs two of his aides to stay behind and talk with the supreme leader's representative. The result of Vahid's presence at Ali Habibi Mousavi's house that evening and the talks that took place there between the representative and the victim's family members and Mousavi's aides was that the Ali Habibi Mousavi's corpse was delivered that very night and the burial ceremony took place unexpectedly the very next morning.
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