With his nuclear opponents on the ropes, Rouhani is focusing on the 2016 parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections. But his comments Aug. 19 at a meeting of his Cabinet with the governors of the provinces has drawn the ire of his critics, including the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Ali Jaffari.
Rouhani said, “The honorable Guardian Council is a supervisor, not an administrator. The administrator of the elections is the administration. The administration is responsible for carrying out the elections and agencies have been predetermined to supervise so that violations of the law do not take place.”
He continued, “The Guardian Council is the eyes and the eyes cannot do the work of the hands; supervision and administration should not be mixed. We have to completely pay attention to the constitution and act upon it.”
While Rouhani is accurate that the elections in Iran are carried out by the administration in office, and the Interior Ministry also does have the authority to approve or disqualify candidates in the first step of registration of parliamentary elections, his comments were viewed by critics as attempting to limit the Guardian Council’s role in the elections.
Without addressing Rouhani directly, Jaffari responded Aug. 20, “This kind of language that would weaken one of the pillars of the Islamic Revolution, as in the Guardian Council, damages national unity.” He asked Iranian officials not to “question the beliefs and values of the revolution” in order to “appease the dominant powers and the Great Satan.”
Conservative Iranian MP Ahmad Tavakoli also rejected Rouhani’s comments about the Guardian Council, saying, “The first point is that the legal discretion of the Guardian Council is to determine the qualification of candidates and the second point is how the Guardian Council proceeds to determine the qualifications. It’s not clear which of these two responsibilities the president objects to; apparently, [with] the example he gave, he objects to both of them.”
Tavakoli added that he was surprised that Rouhani, a legal scholar, would not know that constitutional role of the Guardian Council.
While Rouhani appears to be focused on post-nuclear-deal Iran, there seems to be confusion domestically about who would ratify the deal. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said Aug. 20 that the council is in the final stages of reviewing the nuclear deal. This is while 201 members of the conservative-led parliament earlier issued a statement to Rouhani demanding that a final nuclear deal be approved by them and to set up a special committee to review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Arash Bahmani wrote in Al-Monitor about the battle between the SNSC and the conservatives in parliament over the approval of the nuclear deal.
In regard to relations between the administration and IRGC, Jaffari said, “Although there were doubts in the beginning, the officials from the administration also reached the conclusion that [the IRGC’s] ability in construction cannot be ignored. At the moment, there is good cooperation and interaction between [the IRGC] and the administration.”
When Rouhani took office in August 2013, one of his goals was to decrease the economic and alsopolitical role of the IRGC. Economically, the administration had planned for the IRGC to continue its large-scale industrial projects while smaller projects were passed on to the private sector.
Jaffari had previously said that the IRGC was ready to help improve the economy, and was critical that the administration had not taken the organization up on its offer.
On the US-led coalition against IS, Jaffari said, “Even if the Islamic Republic of Iran were invited to the meeting with Western and Arab countries to fight against IS in Iraq, there is no chance we would attend. In all, there is not much hope in this action because the Americans have taken this action to meet their own goals.”
Speaking of an American military air base in Erbil, Jaffari said, “This is not considered a threat for us. Iran has put direct threats behind itself. And as thoughtless as our enemies may be, we see the topic of a direct threat against Iran as unlikely. This [base] is more to help the Kurds of Northern Iraq, and how influential it is will be clear in the future.”
In regard to Syria, Jaffari said, “The indiscriminate spread of terrorists has created concern for their supporters. Although they are trying to weaken or stop groups like IS from taking power, they are strengthening others.” Jaffari did not specify which particular supporters he meant by this comment, but Iranian officials have accused the United States, Israel and Arab countries in the region of supporting armed groups inside Syria, including IS.
Jaffari also believes it is “unlikely” that the armed opposition groups will continue to spread inside Syria, given the current efforts of the Syrian armed forces.
On the possibility of the United States bombing IS inside Syria, Jaffari said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the ruling system in Syria and in the political dimension, we condemn American actions. Of course, in all international rules, this type of bullying is condemned and we think America will regret it.”
Jaffari said that Iranians played an advising role in the operation to regain the Iraqi city of Amerli and that it was „the zealous and brave Iraqi forces“ that were able to take back the territory.
The most interesting Iranian person in the world right now isn’t sitting in Vienna to talk about the nuclear agreement, and isn’t dishing out quirky or alarming quotes from Tehran. He is probably on a plane, flying to and from Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad etc…helping to increase Tehran’s military and political influence.
Meet Qassam Suleimani, commander of the IRGC’s „external“ operations units, better known as the Qods Force. A former CIA chief, John Maguire calls him, „the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today„. Or you can call him by his nickname: Keiser Soze.
Suleimani in Iran
On the outside, he leads a „regular life“. He is 57 years old. He wakes up every day at 4:00 and goes to sleep early at 21:30. He has five children. He takes his wife on some of his many „business“ trips. He suffers from back aches. He never raises his voice (in fact he is silent most of the time) but is gifted with an „understated charisma that makes people pay attention to him.
He is also a decorated war hero from the Iran-Iraq war and is connected all the way up to the Supreme Leader Khamenei himself who has referred to Suleimani as “a living martyr of the revolution.”
Rumours have it that Suleimani recently attempted a coup against Rouhani which was blocked at the last moment by Khamenei himself.“
Running the War in Damascus
In Syria, Suleimani has worked as the liaison between the leaders in Tehran, the Hezbollah chiefs and Bashar al-Assad for the past 3 years. He has built up Assad’s army from the inside after once exclaiming „The Syrian army is useless! Give me one brigade of the Basij, and I would conquer the whole country“.
He works in Damascus from a fortified nondescript building together with a large array of officers: Syrian military commanders, a Hezbollah commander, a coordinator of Iraqi Shiite militias and a close comrade of his, the Basij former deputy commander Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani.
Once Suleimani got settled in, an immediate sharp increase in Iranian supply flights into the Damascus airport carrying weapons and ammunition was noticed. Thousands of Quds operatives suddenly turned up within the Syrian army and in Assad’s special security service.
Working Behind the Scenes in Baghdad
But, as the ISIS crisis got into Iraq, Suleimani flew out repeatedly to Baghdad. The Guardian says – „Experts agree that it is hard to overestimate Suleimani’s role in Iraq. „At times of crisis Suleimani is the supreme puppeteer…He is everywhere and he’s nowhere. Suleimani is doing in Baghdad what he did in Damascus“ – this time with Maliki instead of Assad.
Under his guidance, Tehran began by supplying Maliki with weapons and militia men as well as flying out drones and jet fighters into Iraq. Judging from Suleimani’s experience in Damascus, one can only expect Suleiman to set up a similar force in Baghdad as well.
In any case, it would be worthwhile to keep an eye out on him at all times…trouble is never far away from him.
Source: Iran 24/07
by Garrett Nada and Helia Ighani
A quarter century later, the Iran-Iraq War looms over Iran’s presidential election as if it happened yesterday. All six candidates participated in the grizzliest modern Middle East conflict as fighters, commanders or officials. Over the past month, the campaign has evolved into a feisty competition over who sacrificed and served the most in the eight-year war.
A leading candidate lost a leg. Another candidate commanded the Revolutionary Guards. A third liberated an oil-rich frontline city. A fourth brokered the dramatic ceasefire.
By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
While many Iranians remain undecided about who they will vote for in the June 14 presidential election, one of the country’s most powerful military commanders has apparently made up his mind.
Iranian Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force
Last week, Ayatollah Yahya Jafari, who is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative in Kerman and Kerman’s Friday Prayer leader, said during a meeting with one of the eight presidential candidates that the candidate had already earned the vote of the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps‘ (IRGC) Quds force, Qassem Soleimani.
Jafari told the former IRGC air-force commander and ex-Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf that Soleimani would vote for him, before echoing the sentiment himself.
„One night I was with Haj Qassem Soleimani and I asked him, ‚Who will you vote for?‘ Haj Qassem Suleimani said, ‚Qalibaf.‘ I also said I would vote for Qalibaf,“ Jafari said. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags