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12/27/11

Military-Security Alert for Iran's March 2012 Election

By Bahram Rafiei, Rooz Online

Ahmadi Moghadam: Intelligence Ministry, IRGC and Basij are in Coordination

These days, the post-2009-election events loom large in the psyche of Iranian leaders and officials, and as the March 2012 parliamentary elections inch closer, senior regime authorities express concern about the repetition of those events.

This week again, the top police commander in the Islamic republic announced the "readiness" of the military, the police and the security forces of the country to confront possible unrest on election day for the ninth Majlis (parliament), scheduled to be held on March 2, 2012, while at the same time preaching security measures to parliamentary candidates.


An election poster by Iranian opposition decrying militarization of politics

Speaking at a national seminar on Provincial Police Command Operations, the country's top cop Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam said, "It is true that the plans of the enemy and their domestic lines brought bitter experience to the public and engaged the country for a while during the 2009 elections, and even brought forth damage, the [forthcoming] the elections of the Majlis are different from those in 2009. They are more local. In any case, past experience must be utilized to provide the best possible security" for the March elections.

Drawing his attention to MP candidates, he asked that they "take domestic security and safety, and that of the nation into consideration" in their campaign activities aimed at getting public votes. "Those who register for the parliament must refrain from making promises that cannot be provided and avoid destroying each other. Instead, they should announce and describe their plans and ideas for the progress of the region and the country," he said.

Moghadam enjoys a special position in the Islamic republic. Prior to his current position, he was the deputy commander of the Basij official vigilante force which played a key role in suppressing the widespread 2009 protests. In official photos of Iran's leadership, he is often seen standing close or next to the country's leader ayatollah Khamenei.

Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam
Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam

Moghadam described his expectations from the March elections in these words: "The expectation is that those get into the Majlis will be those who believe in the regime and have the trust of the public."

The seminar where Moghadam was speaking, included the security and operational commanders of the national police force. It was organized to review the activities of these forces in those events that normally bring about public defiance of the regime and its policies. These days include the ten day period leading up to February 11 (the day when the 1979 revolution toppled the monarchy in Iran), the last Tuesday of the year (when the Iranian masses practice their ancient Zoroastrian fest of jumping over fire which the regime rejects), Nowruz (the Persian New Year which falls on March 21 which is also a pre-Islamic celebration), and the forthcoming Majlis elections on March 2, 2012.

Leaders of the Islamic regime have on numerous occasions displayed their concerns over the forthcoming Majlis elections. About three months ago Moghadam had warned the police to be vigilant in stopping individuals who may wish to disrupt the March elections on voting day. At the time, he also made a reference to the 2009 public protests that erupted around the country rejecting the official election results that returned Ahmadinejad to the presidency for the second term. He called the protests a "sedition" against the regime, adding that elections do not allow the loser to take to the streets and destroy public property. We realize that while during the presidential election the race is between two or three candidates whereas in the Majlis elections several candidates run against each other in all towns across the country. Those protests were violently and brutally suppressed by the security and militia forces of the Islamic republic, resulting in the arrest of most of the reform leaders of the country.

The supreme leader of the Islamic regime has also expressed his concerns over the forthcoming elections. On August 31 he warned, "Care must be taken that this foundation (i.e., the institution of elections) does not turn into a challenge for the security of the state."

Following that lead, other leaders echoed the same concerns and issued their own warnings regarding the Majlis elections. During the last week of November, intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi even pronounced that the enemies of the Islamic regime had developed plans to disrupt the 2012 Majlis elections, for which he also said that the events of 2009 had thought them valuable lessons in this regard.

While the 2009 presidential race was between the incumbent hardline president and reform candidates, the forthcoming Majlis elections are expected to be between the supporters of Ahmadinejad and those of ayatollah Khameneni, as key reformers have announced that they are not participating in the elections because reform leaders such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi are under house arrest while others are serving long-term prison terms on charges of sedition or plotting against the regime. Reform groups have also been outlawed by the regime.

Echoing the events of 2009, on May 29 this year, ayatollah Khamenei, speaking to Majlis deputies, warned that "no person should interfere in elections in any manner so that the process takes its legal course and the new Majlis is formed on the basis and vote of people." The concern in this round of elections is that the system will be gamed and manipulated by supporters of Ahmadinejad who has since his last election fallen out of favor with the regime and supporters of ayatollah Khamenei. Ahmadinejad's supporters in office have been called the "deviant current" who are accused of pursuing goals that are at odds with those of the regime leader. A number of his key allies have been arrested in recent months.

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