At the 20th National Assembly of Commanders and Officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), President Hassan Rouhani praised the efforts of the IRGC in defending the country and asked for its help in economic matters, while asking it to function as a non-partisan group in Iran’s domestic political affairs. Rouhani also took arguably his strongest stance to date on the civil war in Syria, blaming the West for taking action for the benefit of Israel.
A team from the United Nations announced today that it will head to an Iraqi camp of Iranian exiles to investigate the deaths of dozens of its residents. The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) said on Sunday that Iraqi forces had killed 52 of their members in a raid at Camp Ashraf, the group’s longtime base in Diyala, Iraq. The Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which is how they are known in Iran, was a leftist-Islamist group which left Iran after the 1979 revolution over a power struggle with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Continue reading
A website close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has presented four distinct roles that they believe they should play in the next four years under President Hassan Rouhani’s administration. Although the IRGC, also known as Sepah, still plays a significant role in the Iranian economy and intelligence community, with Rouhani’s new cabinet they have lost key cabinet positions that they enjoyed the last eight years under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The article begins by saying that some of the main issues that Sepah will need to confront are “an emphasis on negotiations with America, accepting the entrance of globalization, the demands of 2009 (elections) … and satisfying Europe and the White House.” The author believes that “some around the new administration” have shown an inclination toward the above demands. Continue reading
General Ramazan Sharif, head of public relations for Sepah (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), has given an extensive and revealing interview to Reformist newspaper Shargh. Sharif is described by the author of the article, Mohammad Norouzi, as “one of the few people in the security field who has had a good relationship with the media.”
Opposition website Jaras, which is assumed to be run by a figure close to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, has published parts of Rafsanjani’s first statements since his surprising disqualification by the Guardian Council from running for the presidency. Although Rafsanjani doesn’t mention anyone by name, he has had issues with the hard-line policies of both Khamenei’s advisers and Sepah (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), who have increased their influence and presence in state affairs in the last decade or so.
Rafsanjani, addressing his campaign staff this afternoon, said, “I went to the Supreme Leader and told him that I won’t become a candidate if you have someone you prefer.”
Rafsanjani addressed the response to speculation about his running. “I said, ‘I didn’t say I’m not running,’ and that’s when they started gathering an army [against me]. But that’s also when a flood of letters started coming from Qom, Najaf and Mashhad [major Shia centers] for my candidacy. How could I be so obstinate to say no, especially to the youth?” Continue reading
In a speech in Iran’s Khuzestan province today, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he “received a message that said, ‘If you become too bold, you’ll pay for it.’”
The president continued, “They ask, ‘Why are you traveling at the end of your term?’ Does it make a difference if it’s the end of the term or the beginning?” As president, Ahmadinejad spent a considerable portion of his time traveling to Iran’s various provinces to shore up support for his administration. He is accused of doing so now to campaign in an unofficial capacity for his ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who has not yet announced his candidacy. The message of which Ahmadinejad speaks to is most likely in reference to his bold campaigning efforts and statements.
On April 16, Saham News, a website close to Mehdi Karroubi, published an article which quoted an anonymous source who was present at a meeting between the head of the Expediency Council, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and provincial governors during Rafsanjani’s and Mohammad Khatami’s presidencies. The following day, the public-relations department of the Expediency Council denied the reports attributed to Rafsanjani.
A group of parliament members have signed a letter of protest after police officials had reportedly forced a suspect to wear women’s clothing in public. According to Digarban, this event took place on April 13. According to Nasim online, which originally reported the story, the event took place in the city of Marivan, in Iran’s Kurdish region near the Iran-Iraq border.
The parliament members had “sought to notify the interior and justice ministers” of the event. Security officers had reportedly forced a “famous street thug” to wear women’s clothing and then paraded him in public. The parliament members who signed the letter, including the representative from Marivan, wrote that “this action is against Islamic values and it degrades the clothing and character of Muslim women.”
The Supreme Leader’s representative to Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] said, “A soft war comes from the conflict of beliefs, and our war today with America also comes from this conflict of beliefs, and in this war all of Islam stands against all of the unbelievers.”
Hojat al-Islam Ali Saeedi, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to Sepah, warned that “when the enemy cannot move forward with a soft war, they will start a hard war.” He made these statements in the eastern city of Mashhad yesterday.
The term “soft war” is often referred to as a cultural war that many Iranian officials believe the US and the West are waging against Iran to change the identity and tastes of its public, so that it becomes more friendly to the West and, in their eyes, less Islamic.
Saeedi framed Iran’s standing in the Islamic world this way: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is holding the banner of Islam and it is standing against two imperfect forms of Islam.” The first Islam he described as one “that has taken the shape of al-Qaeda, which has been promoted from the Salafi-Wahabi Arab countries [in the Persian Gulf].” The second “imperfect Islam” that Saeedi believes Iran stands against is from the Western, “secularized Islam, such as one that is present in Turkey.” Continue reading
General Seyyed Massoud Jazayeri, Deputy General of the Armed Forces, told Sepah News yesterday that “Iranian commanders had been given the authority to immediately respond to any hostile action from the enemy.” According to Sepah, this was in response to “threats made from some of the Zionist [Israeli] leaders.”
Jazayeri said that “the era of childish games of threats and intimidation with carrots and sticks is over, such that if greedy countries do not have a correct understanding of the world’s and region’s situation today, they will encounter many and unforeseeable problems.” He added that “the the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are popular” and that “our enemies are operating under their own illusions, with thousands of lies against Sepah and Basij to distort society’s view of us.”
After the contested 2009 elections, Sepah, also known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), actively sided with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s support of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sepah also controls Khatam Al-Anbia, one of Iran’s largest contracting firms. Their dominance in politics and business has angered many in Iran.
Jazayeri concluded with a warning to President Barrack Obama. “Mr. Obama,” he said, “Do not be mistaken; our options are on our table, too. Before you get more entangled in a quagmire in this region, go back home.” In an interview last Thursday with Israeli TV, President Obama said that he told Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu that if negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program are not resolved, the United States continues “to keep all options on the table.”
Iranian Hospitals May Soon Face Shortage of Anesthetics
The head of pharmacy at Tehran University Medical Sciences School of Pharmacy has warned about the lack of anesthetics in Iran.
Kheirollah Gholami told Iranian Labor News Agency that “Tehran University Medical Sciences hospitals presently don’t have a shortage of anesthetics,” but that “anesthetics such as atracurium, sevoflurane, and isoflurane either do not exist in the markets or are very low.” Gholami warned that “if this continues, we really don’t know what we’ll do.”
When asked by reporters what sort of measures have been devised to face this crisis, Gholami responded that “we have to pray, because if we can’t acquire the anesthetics we’ll have to close our operating rooms,” adding that “it’s up to the minister of health to address this situation.”
Gholami blamed sanctions and the lack of funding for the shortage.
Earlier last week, Fatemeh Nikpour conducted an extensive Q&A with Dr. Akbar Abdullahi, the president of Abidi Pharmaceutical Company, to discuss the medicine crisis in Iran. Abdullahi said that “the primary reason for the medicine shortage in Iran is domestic politics and challenges as opposed to international sanctions.”
Abdollahi listed a number of management issues which have contributed to Iran’s medicine crisis, such as decisions made “without considering all the sides,” “interference from political and oversight organizations” and “a lack of cooperation.” Abdollahi added that “many American companies have a license from the State Department to export medicine to us because medicine is not sanctioned, but we have a problem with securing and transferring money.”
Abdollahi recounted a tale in which he said that “the head of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration was consulting and trying to free up Iranian money that had been blocked by a European source, and he was succeeding, but with the removal of the health minister, these efforts were suspended. In the time it took the new health minister to investigate this, many opportunities were lost.”
The previous health minister, Dr. Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi, was fired in December 2012 after publicly complaining that the administration had not allocated the proper funds for the purchase of medicine.