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12/03/11

Upcoming Security Challenges in Iran: Why the Concern Over the March Elections?

By Bahram Rafiei, Rooz Online

With only about three months left for the first elections since the bloody and controversial 2009 presidential voting, security and law enforcement officials have expressed concern over serious security challenges that the March Majlis elections may bring. They have said that “The enemies of the Islamic Republic plan to create pandemonium to harm our revolution.”

Different senior officials have publicly made statements to this effect. Iran’s minister of intelligence Heidar Moslehi, for example, recently said, “The enemy has serious plans for this election and this is a warning. This does not mean we are afraid, because we have complete knowledge of all activities of the enemy and the events of 2009 have been useful to us.”

“The minimum strategy of the enemy is to change the behavior of the regime but with the leadership of the supreme leader over the ninth presidential elections, a complete turn of events took place and the plans of the enemy once again went sour while government agencies made progress. But the enemy has not given up,” Moslehi warned.

“The second strategy of the enemy is its ultimate strategy which it is pursuing through a soft and a hard war. The essence of the soft war is to create doubt in the hearts and minds of people with the purpose of turning their behavior towards its own goals. In such a war the enemy is after the hearts and pains on one hand and the management of doubt and certainty on the other,” he theorized.

Prior to Moslehi, ayatollah Khamenei himself on August 31 directly expressed his concerns about the upcoming Majlis elections and warned, “We must be careful that this great backbone (i.e., elections) does not turn into a security challenge for the country.”

The head of the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence agency also has expressed similar concerns. Speaking at a seminar for public, revolutionary and military prosecutors on March 2 of this year, cleric Hossein Taeb said, “In addition to military and diplomatic measures, the Americans have devised three domestic plans to contain and control. Their hopes have been to get results by linking the (international) sanctions to the (domestic) targeted subsidies. But they failed. For this year, their plan is to first link the sanctions to the next round of targeted subsidies and thus create a new round of chaos. At the same time they want to increase the security threats and keep us engaged in greater security and law enforcement activities and thus exhaust ourselves. And (finally when the election time comes) then plan to launch their velvet revolution.”

Taeb had earlier also said that there were two goals that the enemies of the country were following: a velvet revolution and ethnic uprisings and disturbances. “The purpose of the velvet revolution is to topple the regime and replace it with one that will have the maximum cooperation for American interests.”

Even though almost all the leaders of reform groups and the Green Movement have been either imprisoned or neutralized and the critical media has been for all practical purposes shut down inside the country, and even though the reform parties have expressly announced that they do not intend to participate in the upcoming Majlis elections, security and intelligence officials of Iran continue to display concerns about the March event. Their main concern because of the internal differences and battles among the Principlists, a group of politicians and officials who claim to pursue the ideals of the 1979 revolution, which intensified after differences between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and ayatollah Khamenei went public earlier this year. Military commanders of the IRGC and other forces have expressly said that they fear that Ahmadinejad’s associates, whom they supported in previous elections, would find their way into the Majlis. IRGC commander for Fars province Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar for example told members of the IRGC and the Basij, “We must be vigilant to that the future Majlis does not fall into the hands of irresponsible individuals.” We must also prevent past mistakes from happening again so that only trusted individuals get into the ninth Majlis.”

Prior to this, ayatollah Khamenei’s representative in the IRGC, cleric Ali Saeedi, had talked on the subject during a seminar for ideological-political teachers and trainers of the IRGC in Qom and had said, “We face a most difficult and complex situation. There are differences among the Principlists. This difference must be clearly expressed to the guards.” “We cannot ignore those who have entered the political scene under the guise of being Principlists.”

The supreme IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jaafari also has spoken of the differences among the Principlists and a group within them who are confronting and challenging the revolution. “This group is pursuing its goal by affecting the upcoming elections through money and royalties,” he said.

Another commander, this one leading the Saheb -alAmr force in the province of Ghazvin expressed similar concerns in February/March when speaking at a seminar composed of monitors of the Guardians Council (an institution responsible for implementing elections in Iran, among its other duties). “In the past we used to have a group called reformists, 2 Khordad, and seditionists, all of which were just one entity challenging us. Today there is another group facing us and it is called ‘deviant’ which is so complex that we need to ask God to help us identify it.” He said.

Just last week the former head of the IRGC political bureau IRGC General Yadollah Javani who according to some unofficial sources had been removed from his post because he had been on sanction lists of a number of countries and appointed as the supreme advisor to ayatollah Khamenei in the force also claimed that the ‘deviant course’ (a name attributed to Ahmadinejad and his allies) viewed the next Majlis elections as “a golden opportunity to return the reformists back into the political scene” of the country.

Expressing his concern about the participation of reformers in the next Majlis elections, Javani said, “We must be vigilant about who becomes a candidate to the Majlis because the next Majlis should not be like the sixth Majlis in which 135 representatives through a letter to the supreme leader had called for a compromise because of US threats.”

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