Pepe Escobar writing in the Asia Times had a very interesting article on Iran’s hardline faction, centered in the Pasdaran and security services, and the religious group behind them, the Hojjatiyeh, a term which I had not previously heard ( hat tip to Russ Wellen):
An iron-clad cast
The key man to watch is Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari. In 2006, he became the IRGC’s top commander. At the time he was already thinking in terms of the enemy within, not an external enemy. He was actively working on how to prevent a velvet revolution.It’s essential to remember that only a few days before the election, Brigadier General Yadollah Javani – the IRGC’s political director – was already accusing Mousavi of starting a “green revolution”. He said the Guards “will suffocate it before it is even born”.The IRGC has always been about repression. They literally killed – or supported the killing of – all secular political groups in Iran during the 1980s, especially from the left. After the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died in 1989 they split into two sides. One side thought Iran needed a (slight) opening; they were afraid of a popular counter-revolution. Today, they are mostly reformist leaders or reform sympathizers.
The other side was, and remains, ultra-conservative. They include the already mentioned Jafari and Javani, as well as Ahmadinejad and his current Minister of Interior, Sadegh Mahsouli, the man who oversaw the election.
The religious strand runs parallel and overlaps with the military strand – this is always about a military dictatorship of the mullahtariat. So one must refer to the Hojjatiyeh, an ultra-sectarian group founded in the 1950s. Khomeini banned them in 1983. But they were back in force during the 1990s. Their spiritual leader is Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, known as “the crocodile” in Iran. Two weeks before the elections, Yazdi issued a fatwa legitimizing any means necessary to keep Ahmadinejad in power.
That was the green light to steal the elections. It’s essential to remember that Ahmadinejad replaced no less than 10,000 key government bureaucrats with his cronies in these past four years. These people were in charge of the maze of official organizations involved in the election and the vote counting.
Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi believes that Iran’s supreme leader is chosen by Allah – when Allah tells the 86 members of the Council of Experts to find the leader. That’s how Khamenei was “found” in 1989 – even though he was (and remains) a minor scholar, and never a marja (source of imitation). What Yazdi wants is an oukoumat islami – a hardline Islamic government sanctioned by none other than Allah.
An informative piece. Read the rest here.
Escobar is also the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving Into Liquid War and Obama Does Globalistan, published by Nimble Books.