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Iran: Former Senior IRGC Commander Comes Under Attack

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Hossein Alaei, a former senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), has come under attack by his fellow guards and hard-liners over an article in which he appeared to draw an analogy between the rule of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the last days of the shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was ousted from power in the 1979 revolution.

Hossein Alaei
Hossein Alaei

In an op-ed published last week in the "Ettelaat" daily, Alaei, a prominent wartime commander and the former chief of the IRGC navy, raised a number of hypothetical questions the shah could have pondered after being forced into exile.

"If I had given the people permission to demonstrate peacefully and not have accused them of staging a showdown with the government, would the issue have ended?"

"If I had not ordered the security forces to shoot at the people and taken measures to calm them down, wouldn't I have reached a better outcome?"

"If, instead of placing some [prominent political figures] under house arrest, sending others to exile, and jailing political activists, I had opened a dialogue with them, would I have been forced to flee the country?"

He added that dictators who believe they have the right to rule over the people forever only think about these issues after they have been forced to flee, like Libya's former leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Alaei ended his piece with a quote from the Koran: "Thus, learn your lesson, o men of vision."

The issues raised by Alaei were widely interpreted as criticism of the very same moves by Khamenei, including his green light to the brutal 2009 postelection crackdown. The house arrests of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi are said to have been put in place with the blessing of Khamenei.

In an open letter to Alaei, 12 current and former commanders of the IRGC accused him of insulting the Iranian establishment and said he had made Iran's enemies happy.

Meanwhile, on January 14, hard-liners staged a protest in front of Alaei's house and chanted slogans against him. The semi-official Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, said the protest was held in reaction to Alaei's "insulting" note, in which Fars said he had compared the "sacred Islamic establishment of Iran" with the Pahlavi regime.

Hard-liners gathered in front of Alaei's house

slogans that hard-liners sprayed on Alaei's house

See more photos of the hard-liners' protest in front of Alaei's house

Some hard-line websites and blogs have also criticized Alaei over his article, with one site referring to him as a hyena. (In Persian, the word for hyena, "kaftan," rhymes with "sardar," which is the word for commander.)

In 2010, the head of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, acknowledged that someIRGC members had been supportive of the opposition movement. The IRGC played a major role in the repression of Iranian citizens who took to the streets in 2009 to protest the reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Jafari said those guards had since been convinced that they had been wrong.

Alaei's note could signal that some of the IRGC's current and former members remain unconvinced.

Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Related Information:

In response to attacks after publications of his original article, Shargh has published an explanation by Hossein Alaei where he has stated that his article has been misinterpreted by some publications in Iran creating an environment for publications abroad to say what they want. Alaei states that Iran's Islamic Revolution features such as opposition to dictatorship and corruption have been a source of emulation for the people in Middle East and North Africa (referring to the Arab Spring). Alaei also praises Ayatollah Khomeini for his leadership of the revolution which resulted in the creation of the Islamic Republic, and he declares that supporting Guardianship of the Jurist (velayat-e faghih) will protect the country from harm. However, he doesn't explicitly mention the current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei by name or his support for him.

Hossein Alaei's explanations published by Shargh

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