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'Political Guides' Mobilized To Indoctrinate Would-Be Voters

Iranians casting ballots at a polling station in Tehran in the June 2009 presidential election, which opposition critics called a fraud.
Preparations are under way by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for Iran's next national elections.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in the IRGC, Ali Saidi, says that 11,000 political guides have been identified and organized to "strengthen the spiritual foundation and vision of the IRGC personnel" in anticipation of the voting to choose a new parliament next March.

Saidi goes on to say that 7,000 political guides in the Basij and more than 5,000 in the IRGC are to ensure that those elected to the Majlis protect and consolidate the position of velayat-e faqih (the notion of Guardianship of the Jurist) -- the rule of Ayatollah Khamenei as the supreme leader.

The elections could be a springboard for protests by the opposition Green Movement, which has faced relentless crackdown since the controversial 2009 presidential election. The voting might also signal possible inroads for Iran's reformists in the Majlis, which is dominated by conservatives.

But former President Mohammad Khatami doesn't seem optimistic. He has been quoted as saying that if the conditions are not right, reformists will not take part in the voting. In the past, he has called for the release of political prisoners and a review of the security atmosphere that pervades the country.

The IRGC and the Basij have employed political guides to interfere in elections for years. Such guides are active year-round, but prior to the balloting their activities increase in mosques and the "resistance bases" of the Basij to indoctrinate would-be voters.

Saidi argued in October that political guides are not interfering in elections, they are simply briefing people on the issues of the day. As for the interference of the military forces, he said: "This depends on the type of the force. In some cases, the interference of the IRGC is valid.... However, the regular armed forces (Artesh) are advised to stay away from politics."

-- Hossein Aryan

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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