Chief of Armed Forces Defends ‘Engineer Elections’ Statements

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The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces defended yesterday controversial comments made about the elections by the Supreme Leader’s representative to Sepah, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Hojat Al-Islam Ai Saeedi, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to Sepah, said in January that it was the responsibility of Sepah to “rationally and logically engineer the elections.” Many analysts took these statements to mean that Sepah will directly interfere in Iran’s June presidential elections. Sepah had been accused by the Iranian opposition of playing a part in vote rigging in the 2009 elections that saw the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Major-General Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi said that Saeedi “did not at all mean interference” when he made these comments. He added that “engineering elections from the viewpoint of the Supreme Leader’s representative means to fulfill his responsibility for the elections … not to present something to the public.”

Firouzabadi continued that “the Supreme Leader’s religious and political representatives of the armed forces must focus on the values of the government and speak about those matters. For instance, just as Hojat Al-Islam Saeedi said that the criteria for a president is to value and follow the Supreme Leader, ‘engineering of the elections’ by the armed forces means to introduce these criteria to the forces and protect the elections from interference by any other criteria.”

In response to the various “attacks” on Sepah’s influence in economic and political matters, Firouzabadi said that “the founder of the Islamic revolution [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] said that whenever America and the enemies praise you, know that you are going in the wrong direction. This means that whoever goes in the right direction, the enemy will attack him more.”

In other news

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The Enthekhab website is reporting that according to Russian officials, Iran has filed a complaint against Russia at the Hague.

In 2007, Russia signed a contract to sell S-300 missile systems to Iran. But then-president Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the deal citing United Nations sanctions against Iran. Iran had previously filed a complaint at the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva for $900 million for the cancellation of the contract and $4 billion for damages.

According to the Entekhab report, Alexander Fomin, deputy director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that “because Russia did not fulfill its part in delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missiles, it has lost hundreds of millions of dollars, and now a $4 billion complaint has been filed in court.”

Iran has argued that the sale of the missile system to Iran is not banned by UN sanctions. The S-300 missile system is generally regarded as one of the most sophisticated and effective anti-aircraft systems in the world. Iranian officials have said they would be willing to drop their $4 billion claim if Russia delivers the missile system as originally agreed.