The upset election of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the drab, rigid mayor of Tehran as the next Iranian president was a stage in the creeping military revolt staged by the dreaded Revolutionary Guards, the Sepah Pasdaran.
Since it was established by Ayatollah Khomenei as an arm of the Islamic revolution, this quasi-military force has been eating away at the armed forces’ standing and budgetary resources. Iran’s army today has been shunted aside to guard the country’s borders. The real military power rests with the Sepah Pasdaran.
Ahmadi-Nejad’s victory by 63% over the well-known Iranian statesman Hashemi Rafsanjani was a signal political achievement for the Revolutionary Guards. So much so, say DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Tehran sources, that the all-powerful spiritual ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, finds himself for the first time a captive of the extremist Pasdaran and the ultra-radical clerics. They were able to push their presidential runner down his throat against his own favorite – or even Rafsanjani.
But this week, the spiritual ruler ventured to put his foot down in his first showdown with the new powers-that-be. He took exception to the president designate’s promise to root out corruption starting with the oil industry and the fat contracts awarded foreign companies. This assertion was taken as a declaration of war on the Rafsanjani clan.
At that point, Khamenei called the Pasdaran commander Yahya Rahim-Safavi and told him their puppet had gone too far. The persecution of Rafsanjani must stop. Khamenei agreed that the oil ministry needed purging corruption but said the Rafsanjani name must be kept out of it.
Forbes places the defeated presidential candidate’s family in the top league of world tycoons. Before the Islamic revolution, the many-branched family based in the town of Rafsanjan owned the largest pistachio orchards in the region. But in the 26 intervening years, its wealth has increased a thousand-fold.
More covert operations overseas – including America
Rafsanjani, twice president of Iran, claims he has no personal property, not even an apartment in Tehran. But his clan has holdings in the Mahan air line, Iran’s second largest, in industries, import and expert firms and a controlling interest in most of the country’s most profitable companies. They are also partners in Iran’s national oil company which is responsible for export transactions and awards contracts in the oil industry.
The presidential election caps two years of impressive advances for the Revolutionary Guards’ staged revolution.
Iran’s previous three presidents, Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami, all wore clerical turbans and robes, but none adhered as closely as the non-clerical Ahmadi-Nejad to the extreme strictures of the Pasdaran, the most conservative ayatollahs in the land and the most radical goals of the Islamic revolution.
The new president said Wednesday June 29, “The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.” This was the sort of rhetoric heard after 1979 when Iran’s new leaders promised to export their revolution. Ahmadj-Nejad has often praised the purity of those days.
Some of the Americans taken hostages in the November 4, 1979, seizure of the American embassy in Tehran said they remember him as one of the captors. He is also a former member of the Revolutionary Guards himself. But he was an unknown figure in politics. Even after his appointment as mayor of Tehran, he never cut a national figure. He distinguished himself by introducing such strict religious reforms as separate elevators for men and women in municipal offices.
The national goal of exporting of revolution is the source of the Revolutionary Guards’ lifeblood, huge injections of petrodollars to bankroll their collaboration with international Islamic organizations including al Qaeda, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Jihad Islami and Hamas. The new president also means to expand Revolutionary Guards budgets for covert operations overseas, including the United States and Western Europe.
Soaring oil revenues for expanding nuclear development
Ahmadi-Nejad’s pledge to spread the Islamic revolution across the world was music to the ears of the Pasdaran leaders whom the outgoing president Mohammed Khatami starved of funds.
Last year, in the parliamentary elections, Revolutionary Guards officers removed their uniforms and captured one third of the 290 majlis seats.
With the presidency, the Pasdaran holds enough cards to bend the spiritual ruler to their will. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Tehran sources report that one week after the election, its commanders demanded – and received – substantially increased slices of the revenues emanating from soaring oil prices.
Oil exports account for 90% of Iran’s national revenue which is calculated on the basis of $22 per barrel. As prices soared to $60, the Pasdaran demanded at least half of the balance to invest in expanding the nuclear program under their authority and the development of more sophisticated and longer range missiles than Iran stocks at present.
This week too, the Pasdaran commander told Khamenei to order Iran’s nuclear negotiators to make no more concessions to the Europeans that might restrict or slow the nuclear program down. Even before he was sworn in, the new president pronounced nuclear development Iran’s natural right.
Safavi warned the spiritual ruler that any surrender to international pressure or American threats on the nuclear issue would result in the sacking of responsible officials and a no-confidence vote in the government.
They also obtained Khamenei’s consent to release oil revenue for populist measures to make life better for the ordinary Iranian. The new regime will go all out to win the hearts of the population.