A reformists political activist has found common ground with hardline former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in their criticism of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
While ultraconservative Ahmadinejad has thus far limited his criticism to implicit comments, reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh has ventured more blunt remarks, calling the Supreme Leader “corrupt in practice.”
Tajzadeh, 61, is a former deputy interior minister and advisor to President Mohammad Khatami, who was in office from 1997-2005.
In an open letter addressed to Ahmad Tavvakoli, a prominent conservative former MP from Tehran, Tajzadeh wrote that the Supreme Leader “is the flag bearer of the campaign against corruption only in his remarks and speeches,” but he and the authorities appointed by him are engaged in corruption.
Tajzadeh also singled out the judiciary and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is directly under Khamenei’s control, saying the IRGC engages in corruption related to its business interests.
In his letter, published March 18, Tajzadeh wrote that the Supreme Leader’s partisan response to corruption has helped it spread across the country.
Tajzadeh, who lived briefly in the U.S. before returning to Iran to participate in the 1979 Islamic Revolution against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, expressed regret in his letter that the “revolutionary generation” mistakenly assumed that dictatorship and tyranny could only manifest itself in the office of the president.
“We disregarded the fact that when the management and control over the armed forces, the judiciary, the Guardian Council, state-run radio and TV, as well as a significant bulk of the national economy are granted to one single person, the possibility of that single person’s tending toward dictatorship will be much higher,” he wrote.
Khamenei’s conservative allies on social media are demanding Tjzadeh be arrested for his latest comments.
Tajzadeh is no stranger to the prison cell. He was arrested in June 2009 in the aftermath of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial election that led to months of unrest across Iran. Tajzadeh was convicted of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the system.” He was sentenced to six years imprisonment and a ten-year ban on political and media activity.
Tajzadeh was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison in 2014, and has since become known for opposing conservatives and the IRGC.
Last December, he slammed the IRGC’s extraterritorial operations in a tweet. He was responding to Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari’s announcement November 23, 2017 that Tehran would provide “advisory assistance” to Yemeni Shiite Houthi militants at their request.
“Yemen has no strategic importance for Iran. Yemen is not occupied by ISIS and it has no holy places; it is not a neighbor of Israel to be considered as a part of the Islamic Republic’s strategic sphere…” Tajzadeh tweeted.