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In Unusual Move, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Slam Ahmadinejad Over Comments

The IRGC said that comments made by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad represented a "clear attack" against the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The IRGC said that comments made by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad represented a "clear attack" against the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
By Golnaz Esfandiari
In an unprecedented move, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has directly blasted President Mahmud Ahmadinejad over controversial comments he made recently, including saying that parliament is not on top of the country's affairs.

Ahmadinejad was also criticized for promoting an "Iranian school of thought" instead of an Islamic one.

Ahmadinejad has in recent weeks come under fire by his hard-line allies and conservatives over his new nationalistic rhetoric. So far, the IRGC, whose power and influence has grown since Ahmadinejad came to power, had not publicly criticized the Iranian president.

The unusual attack by the IRGC, coming in one of its main publications, is seen by analysts as a warning issued to Ahmadinejad from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with the intention of trying to tame the Iranian president.

The IRGC monthly publication "Payam-e Enghelab" (Message of the Revolution), which is managed by Khamenei's representatives, described Ahmadinejad's statement that the government is not on top of the country's affairs as an offense to the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"The essence of bringing up this issue is a clear attack to Imam Khomeini, the great leader of the Islamic Revolution, who had said 'the parliament is on top of the affairs,'" it said. "Unfortunately, this was brought up by politicians and the president himself."

Sharp Criticism

Ahmadinejad had said in a September interview with the "Iran" daily that Khomeini's comments reflected the situation at the time but that things have changed. He said at that time the prime minister was in charge of running the country, was elected through parliament, and parliament was the highest power.

"But now the executive branch has to run the country and other branches have to support it," said Ahmadinejad, who has increasingly clashed with the conservative-dominated parliament.

His comments drew sharp criticism by lawmakers who have called on him to fulfill his duties instead of undermining the parliament.

The IRGC publication accused Ahmadinejad of incorrectly interpreting and altering Khomeini's words to his own benefit which, it said, presents a negative message to Iranian society.

The publication also said that for some time, spending time on "unnecessary and marginal" issues that are damaging to the people has become the main issue for some of the country's officials. Instead, the publication says, the focus should be on "real" issues such as employment and inflation.

'Counterbalance'


Ali Alfoneh, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and an expert on the IRGC, believes the criticism is an attempt by Khamenei to re-create a balance between political forces within the Iranian establishment.

"Supreme Leader Khamenei has systematically supported the parliament in its attempt at criticizing Ahmadinejad," Alfoneh says. "Khamenei has urged the judiciary to criticize Ahmadinejad and now we see the Revolutionary Guards criticizing Ahmadinejad.”

Alfoneh told RFE/RL that the warning could be one of the ways in which Khamenei is trying to provide a "counterbalance” to Ahmadinejad in “the absence of the reformist camp."

He says Ahmadinejad has tried to carve an empire for himself and has tried to create a power base completely independent of the leader.

Turning Into 'Real Power'

In Germany, researcher Reza Khaligh, who has written extensively about the IRGC, says Khamenei is concerned about Ahmadinejad's growing power.

"Ahmadinejad has the country's government and budget under control, through which he has appealed to the lower segments of the society. Recently, by promoting an Iranian Islam and an Iranian school of thought, he's been trying to get the backing of the middle class," says Khaligh.

He added that it appears Ahmadinejad is turning into “a real power” within the structure, a power opposing the supreme leader. “That is not acceptable to Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards," Khaligh says.

Khaligh says Khamenei has been publicly supporting Ahmadinejad, but behind the scenes he's been trying to counter the "unruly" president and weaken his position.

The criticism by the Revolutionary Guards, Khaligh believes, could make Ahmadinejad retreat in the short run. In the long run, he believes the combatant president will push for his own agenda.

Alfoneh says Ahmadinejad's reaction to the apparent warning will depend on his calculation of the balance of power within the forces of the regime.

"If he believes that Khamenei cannot rely on other political forces other than himself, he would ignore this warning," Alfoneh says. "But if he believes that Khamenei could in reality replace him with other political forces, such as the Larijani brothers [Sadegh and Ari], then he will show greater flexibility."

For now, Alfoneh notes that the criticism was rather "discreet," as it was published in the monthly publication of the IRGC, which requires a subscription and has far few readers that the weekly "Sobh-e Sadegh," which is also available online.

Had the website Tabnak -- which is close to Ahmadinejad rival Mohsen Rezai, a former commander of the IRGC and a defeated presidential candidate -- not reposted the piece by "Payam-e Enghelab," the criticism might have gone largely unnoticed.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Homayoun from: Phoenix
November 02, 2010 22:22
I guess, that is what a vibrant democracy is all about. Various elements of the government criticize each other.

by: Aqil Mujtahedi from: Tehran
November 03, 2010 03:21
Another example that Iran is a free country (not the Western hedonistic "freedom"), it’s not a monolithic state like the US where cash loaded and corporate bankrolled Reps and Democrats have monopolized the state. This article again like all other western sources exaggerated the events, but anyway, for open minded people it’s a sign that the image the US creates of Islamic Republic of Iran is false one.

by: Anonymous
November 03, 2010 08:03
The regime is fracturing under the pressure of domestic discontent, there are fissures everywhere. Where is this going?

by: ldkfjva from: us
November 03, 2010 13:07
Amadi Nejad should have taken the opportunity to negotiate with Obama. Now that the midterm elections are over, and the GOP has retaken control of the house, shows the direction the US voters are moving in for 2012. If a Republican wins the presidential election in 2012, Iran will have a much more difficult time and will come under even more pressure from the world community. Further isolation, probably more sanctions, would follow potentially giving cause for the Iranian people to take control of their own government. I think this was a miscalculation by Amadi Nejad.

by: Arjen from: Amsterdam
November 03, 2010 14:03
this so called discussion is restricted to a religious conservative leader, the conservative nationalist leader and de reglious conservative military that has a economical-political role. That's not a real democracy where all opinion's are being heard and recognized, it's just argument within the autocratic elite. The other spectrum of the people is being sidelind and repressed. Nazi-germany functioned just like that. Iran a democracy? what a sickening travesty.
In Response

by: Asraf Tabrizi from: Turkey
November 03, 2010 21:26
The best reply to this primitive narrative is to quote Alastair Crooke, a former special Mid-East adviser to European Union High Representative.


“When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hassan Nasrallah quote Imam Ali (the son-in-law of The Prophet)’s dictum that Muslims should be the ‘friend of the oppressed; and enemies of the oppressor’, or speak of western ‘double-standards’, New York Times sophisticates may sneer at this talk as ‘all hat and no cattle’; but they simply miss the point..Simplistic to some, perhaps – Islamist movements and Iranian leaders do harp continuously on just those global inequities, inequalities, lack of respect and of exploitation to which Brzezinski attributes the unprecedented political ‘awakening’……

In short Islam – particularly Shi’i Islam – is taking over the clothes of the European early Renaissance (before the Enlightenment); Islam stands, for many Muslims, for a humanism and a respect for justice, human dignity and defiance of tyranny that Europe once espoused. Of course, few in the West will see it in these terms: they have been too busy creating an inverted mirror image of what they perceive still to be western ‘virtues’ – and call it Iranian ‘theocracy’”

http://www.raceforiran.com/the-true-significance-of-ahmadinejads-lebanon-visit




by: Hugo McKissic Jr from: Philadelphia
November 04, 2010 01:12
A case of political posturing, Ahmadinjab has made statements more divisive than his current speech, Iran continues to follow the political ideals of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

by: Anonymous
November 04, 2010 13:36
Once again President Ahmadinejad is preoccupied with giving meaningless and absurd speeches rather than providing jobs and prosperity for my people in Iran. No wonder, giving speeches is much easier than job creation and prosperity for the Iranians in Iran.
By the bye, there is no such a thing as Islamizing the country. The extremists and conservatives who support him, which include the Father Of Islamic Revolution, The Supreme Leader, are more interested in Arabizing the country than Islamizing it.
One more thing! There is no such a thing as “Supreme Leader” in Islam. Under the influence of North Korian news broadcast system, they changed the above mentioned affectionate title into a meaningless Islamess title of “Supreme leader”. Can one in his right mind imagine if we called the Caliphs of Damascus(Bani Omayeds) and Baghdad( Bannie Abbassids) as “Supreme Leadesr”. The entire Universe will laugh at us.

by: Hamik C Gregoryh from: Reno, NV USA
November 04, 2010 14:36
The above mentioned comment associated with the Caliphs of Baghdad and Damascus was sent to you by me. I am sorry that I did not fill out your comment card properly which would have included my proper name and address!

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