Conflicting reports surround death of IRGC Commander


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A number of outlets offer conflicting reports regarding the death of the Revolutionary Guards’ commander, Hossein Shateri, the chief of Iran’s Headquarters for Reconstruction in Lebanon. Abna news agency reports that this Commander of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in Lebanon at the hands of “agents of Israel.”

It has also been reported that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force, visited the home of Shateri, expressing his condolences to the family of the deceased. Soleimani is also said to have confirmed Shateri’s death soon after it was initially reported.

His funeral ceremony was held Thursday [Feb. 14] in Tehran; it was attended by high-level members of the IRGC command.

While Fars News doesn’t specify the location of Shateri’s death, the non-Iran based website Digarban has reported that a well-known pro-Hezbollah activist and also the Iran-based website have reported that Shateri was killed along with two other companions in Aleppo by “mercenaries of the Zionist regime.”

According to Fars, Shateri, who also went by the name of Engineer Hesam, was responsible for the reconstruction of southern Lebanon in the aftermath of Hezbollah’s 33-day conflict with Israeli forces in 2006.

Mashreq News has posted several photos of Shateri while on duty in Lebanon.

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In other news

The Reformist daily Etemaad reports that former Health Minister, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, might be presented by Principalist women organisations such as the Society of Zeinab as a possible presidential contender.

“If during her time at the ministry Dastjerdi was faced with little commotion and rarely made political statements, but her removal according to many was very “political” and has been announced as following disagreement with some of the president’s and his supporters’ demands and resistance to the removal of her deputy Mohammad Baqer Larijani from the Chair of the Medical Faculty of the University of Tehran.”

The head of the Basij paramilitary, Commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi has spoken out regarding both Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 [ithe five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany] stating: “Some people naively think negotiations with America are important and fruitful, when it is more than 10 years that we are negotiating with the P5+1 group and since these negotiations over 10 years haven’t had a result, negotiations with America won’t work either.”

“They want to pull down the flag of combat against Arrogance which is in Iran’s control, when the Americans have undertaken the most belligerent behaviour in history with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the people, and all the limbs of America commit evil against Iran and with its own language, [America] announces its intention to negotiate.”

Moreover, while not invoking former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani by name, there was little doubt about who Naqdi was criticizing when he said: “These are the same extremists that in the days of the sedition did not show any compassion for Friday prayers, Jerusalem Day and Ashura. How do they today partake in gestures of moderation? Someone who resists the Judiciary over the trial of his family cannot espouse moderation.”

Ali Akbar Velayati, adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and a prospective presidential contender, in a gathering of media outlets from Tunisia, Yemen and Afghanistan, has stated, “When Arab countries understood the hand of America and some reactionary Arab governments are active in Syria, they moved to the side of a political solution.”

Velayati added: “The people of Syria were in pursuit of reform of their own affairs and this was a rightful demand and in order to reach it they embarked on a struggle with the government…These countries are moving towards the formation of a unified Islamic community and transforming the Islamic world into one of the great global powers…In every country the people decide to cast an undesirable government aside and put a desirable government to use.”

The hard-line Ayatollah and patron of the Endurance Front for the Islamic Front, Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, at a doctrinal meeting for the Law Enforcement Forces said that “humanity without religion is mere bestiality,” complaining that after 34 years since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, “the signs of a proclivity towards humanism” is still seen the books and articles of Iranian writers.

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National Security Commission spokesman accuses US of funding and arming “terrorists” in Iraq

Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, the spokesman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, has claimed “the Americans don’t want calm to be established in Iraq, because [if there is calm] relations between Iran and Iraq will be strengthened.”

He continued: “The Americans through their investment in terrorist groups and equipping of these individuals with the latest weaponry, have the intention of creating insecurity in Iraq, so that Iranian pilgrims cannot enter Iraqi soil on the brink of Arabaein [the Shi’i ceremony which is commemorated 40 days after the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hossein] … In line with the government of Saudi Arabia in secret activities with covert and widespread financial support for Baathist elements, they have the objective of targeting the Shia, and evacuating Iraq’s towns completely of the existence of Shias.”

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MP says Ahmadinejad’s firing of Minister reminds him of behaviour of Shah Reza Pahlavi

Javan, close the Revolutionary Guards, carries the comments of Deputy Majles Speaker, Mohammadreza Bahonar, who has speculated that another vote of confidence might be required for the approval of President Ahmadinejad’s Cabinet, given the numerous personnel changes which have taken place in recent months: “one of our old issues with the 9th and 10th governments is the bringing, leaving and removing [of Ministers] and of course we do not comprehend the reason for this action either”, said Bahonar, also a persistent Ahmadinejad critic.

The most recent and controversial sacking has been that of Dr. Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi as Minister of Health, a move which has been criticized by a number of MPs.

Hojjat al-Islam Mohammad Baqeri, an MP of the Clerical Faction of the Majles, has been particularly forceful in his remarks, claiming Ahmadinejad’s actions are reminiscent of Shah Reza Pahlavi’s [referred to simply by his pre-coronation name, Reza Khan], the first king of the Pahlavi dynasty and a figure universally despised by the politically active clergy for his secularizing and anti-clerical policies, such as banning the traditional veil and his disdainful treatment of the clerical establishment once he had established a firm grip on power.

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Rafsanjani Renews Call for Reconciliation

The deputy chief of the Majles Commission for Health and Medicine has announced that it will be finalized next week whether a motion for the impeachment of the Minister of Health Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi will be presented before MPs. The deputy chief is quoted by the Majles news agency as stating: “Unfortunately at the moment medicine and medical equipment in the country are in great crisis, [and] it can be observed in the shortage of special drugs and the disarray of hospitals.” The representative for Rasht also criticized the ministry for failing to plan for this eventuality and not stockpiling drugs. Referring to a possible call for the minister’s impeachment, the commission’s deputy chief said: “The subject in recent weeks has become one of the subjects of debate amongst the representatives … On the basis of the planning undertaken, the decision regarding the impeachment of the Minister of Health, Medicine and Medical Education will be finalised next week.”

Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Discernment Council, has stated in an interview with Entekhab that he stands by the comments he made at his final Friday prayer sermon in July 2009, in the aftermath of Iran’s controversial presidential election [and which I attended at the time]. Moreover, as Ebtekar News observes, at the time Rafsanjani was also head of the Assembly of Experts, whose job it is, at least in principle, to monitor the supreme leader’s performance and appoint his successor. Since his famous Friday prayer sermon, Rafsanjani has lost that position to Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, a stalwart of the traditional right, who is foremost concerned with preserving the Islamic system he played an important role in bringing into being.

In his famous Friday prayer sermon, Rafsanjani offered his recommendations for the restoration of calm, as protests had swept the country. Amongst his recommendations were the release of political prisoners and the recognition of the protesters’  demands to the end of realising “national reconciliation.” Since that time Rafsanjani has repeatedly called for such a reconciliation, suggesting it is the only route for the country to return to a state of “normality and calm.” At the time, Rafsanjani’s speech was met with severe criticism by numerous Principalists and Khamenei loyalists, especially in light of the supreme leader’s speech some weeks earlier which had essentially told the protesters to accept Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s re-election and move on.

In his interview Rafsanjani added, comparing the present with his experience in government during the Iran-Iraq war: “At the moment the basic problem is with the foreigners. In the [Iran-Iraq] war it was the same. We gave priority to the reform of foreign relations and we started with the ceasefire. In those negotiations the opposing side also understood that it is faced with a rational movement in Iran. Of course they also cooperated well with us … In that period on the internal scene differences were intensified. My solution was that we form a government that is a combination of the influential wings of the revolution (the conservatives, independents, and the radicals).”

Criticism of Ali and Sadeq Larijani

The website Digarban carries the comments of plainclothes quasi-official vigilantes critical of the Ali and Sadeq Larijani, the Majles speaker and judiciary chief, respectively. Ruhollah Mahdavi, who writes for the hard-line website Bashgah-e Khabarnegaran-e Javan, reacting to the acquittal of preacher Mansur Arzi after having threatened to murder President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, claimed the judiciary was “under the influence” of this preacher.

In reaction to the comments of Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s human rights council, who stated, “If expedient, we will negotiate with America in the depths of hell,” Mahdavi had previously said: “Why doesn’t anyone attack him when the Larijani brother clearly talks about probable relations with America?”

Unlike other hard-line bloggers, particularly Ahmadinejad supporters, who have been arrested as a result of their attacks on the Larijani brothers, Digarban claims that Mahdavi, a self-styled virtual “soldier of the soft war,” enjoys the protection of the Revolutionary Guards.

Majles’ Commission head comments on talks

The head of the Majles’ Commission for National Security and Foreign Policy, Ala’oddin Boroujerdi, commenting on Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 over its controversial nuclear program, has told Khaneh-ye Mellat, the Majles’ news agency: “In the face of confidence building steps that Iran will show in the negotiations and the opportunity the negotiations put in the hands of the West, part of the West’s program in negotiations must be the removal of sanctions”. The MP for Boroujerd added: “The removal of sanctions by the West must for certain be made part of the formula, because [they] are an oppressive, unjust and imposed act upon the Iranian nation”. Finally, he stressed that Iran requires 20% uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and “the principle of enrichment will never change.”

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