The representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has once again denied any interference by the IRGC in Iran’s upcoming May 19 elections.
“The IRGC has never interfered in elections and will not do so in the future,” Ali Saeidi Shahroudi said. “We only explain the standards to the members of the corps and Basijis (Popular Resistance Mobilization Forces). This does not mean interference in elections; it means acting within the framework of principles and standards.”
However, a day earlier, Mehr News Agency reported that during the third and final presidential debate, a news agency close to IRGC published “revelations” against incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and his first deputy, Eshaq Jahangiri.
Moments after verbal attacks by one the challengers, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, against Rouhani and Jahangiri, accusing them of profiting from “economic renting” and owning estates with astronomical values, the Tasnim news agency published copies of documents related to the accusations.
Furthermore, especially during the past year, Shahroudi himself has attacked Rouhani’s government on several occasions. He has even said the terms non-partisan and impartiality in Iranian elections are baseless slogans and “a big lie.”
“The inherent duty of the IRGC is engineering elections in a logical and reasonable manner,” he had also said.
This statement contradicts Khamenei’s October 15, 2016, communique concerning elections and related policies.
“It is forbidden for the armed forces, intelligence, and security institutes as well as the government, judiciary, and the parliament to interfere in the elections or support a candidate,” Khamaenei said.
Reacting to Khamenei’s communique, the IRGC’s deputy in political issues, Rasoul Sana’ei Rad, said: “Even before the leader’s communique, the IRGC never interfered in the elections, and its mission has always been disambiguation, enlightenment, and clarification” of the election issues.
The IRGC’S chief commander, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, echoed Khamenei’s order.
“As in the past, none of the members or commanders of the IRGC have the right to politically or partially take sides in the elections.”
In an open letter to Jafari, Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeqi reminded him: “Arresting a number of Telegram (popular social messaging platform in Iran) admins has created a wave of concern over the IRGC’s obligation to remain impartial in the elections.”
This is not the first time the IRGC has been accused of interfering in an election. Such allegations reached a peak in the 2005 and 2009 presidential elections when Mahmud Ahmadinejad, himself a former IRGC member, was declared the winner.
The IRGC, created in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, is a branch of the country’s armed forces with up to 125,000 members.
Alongside Basij, it has always been under the political spotlight in Iran and has taken an even more assertive role in virtually every aspect of Iranian society.
Basij, or the Mobilization Resistance Force, was officially incorporated into the IRGC in 1981. It officially has 90,000 staff and 11.2 million “volunteer” members, of whom 600,000 are on call for missions.
The IRGC and Basij played a pivotal role in Ahmadinejad’s victory in 2005 and his re-election in 2009, according to many analysts. Khamenei is the leader of Iran’s armed forces.