Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) delivered an important speech at a press conference on Sunday, which has been reported by virtually all of the Iranian news outlets. What follows below is a summary and translation of the key parts of the Commander’s speech and some of his answers to journalists’ questions. The speech should be regarded as significant and news of the press conference was announced on several news agencies a number of days in advance.
On the domestic front, he stated that “Reformists who are not radical can compete in the election”. This is not the first time since 2009 that Jafari has set down conditions for the Reformists return to the political fray and their participation in future elections.
The IRGC commander also stated that the IRGC doesn’t sense any “threat” for the upcoming June 2013 presidential election and for that reason doesn’t seen any reason for “special security measures”. He added, “One of the events which recently occurred was the important event of ’09, that in my opinion with all its injuries and difficulties, was a blessing for us, and had positive consequences of which the greatest was the impact of the 30th December [when one of the largest pro-regime rallies in response to the demonstrations of the “Green Movement” took place]…Today the victory of the Guardianship of the Jurist [i.e. the theory which underpins Iran’s theocracy and clerical rule] is well settled…After the events of ’09 we will not witness or see the events of this previous era…The inclination of the people is toward the principle and values of the Islamic revolution and this inclination is very strong and widespread, and we saw that in the past year’s Majles election…On that basis, we don’t sense any political or domestic threat, that we would desire to take action for the future election”.
When asked by a journalist whether the anger of Muslims at the insult of the Prophet Mohammad justified the killing of the American ambassador in Libya, Jafari stated “certainly this issue is not a licence for killing and it is not right, nonetheless, the feelings of Muslims are wounded, and the only thing which could be done was to take their protests to the embassies. In these protests violence also took place, but the problem lies here that no one can find a Muslim insulting Christianity or Jesus or the Jewish religion. The insults which take place against Muslims are declared in the name of free speech, but we are sure that this act was planned beforehand, but they can be sure that the reverse [of their premeditated plan] will follow, and prove the truth of the Islamic Revolution, even more so”.
Regarding Syria, Jafari made a number of revealing comments. He said, “everyone knows the corps (sepah) had and has a unit by the name of the Islamic Movements, formed to help the oppressed and export the revolution, and which works in this direction. From the time the Qods force was formed, the goal of this force was the defence of innocent nations, particularly Muslims. A number of the Qods forces are present in Syria, but this isn’t the same as a military presence in this country.”
He continued, “if we compare the presence with Arab and non-Arab countries we will see that Iran doesn’t have such a presence. We are helping intellectually and advising Syria as a resistance group, as the Supreme Leader also indicated and Iran is proud of this issue and the help it is providing for it. The corps will partake in any kind of intellectual assistance or even economic support, but it does not have a military presence and this is at a point where some countries are not refraining from terror[ism] in this country. We of course forcefully condemn this matter, and don’t accept it.”
When Jafari was asked whether Iran would support Syria militarily in the event of a military attack, given the security agreement between the two countries he replied: “this issue depends of the circumstances. I can now say with assurance in the event of a military attack against Syria, whether Iran will also support militarily is unclear, and it completely depends on the circumstances.”
Referring to the Lebanese Hezbollah, Jafari stated, “the decision making of the resistance forces and Hezbollah is independent of us, and whether they help Syria or not depends on them. In any case it is natural when a couple of years previously Syrian military forces aiding the security of Lebanon were present in that country, that today if Syria has a need for help, the people and government of Lebanon with the acquisition of the proper permissions would rush to their aid, but Iran has no interference in this issue”.
At the end of the press conference, Jafari stated that sanctions have an “limited effects on the budget of the Corps”. Sanctions “also existed in the past, but their effects aren’t that much”.
Image source: Mihan Star