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Qods Force Commander Soleimani Defends Khamenei

Qasem Soleimani, commander of qods force - Revolutionary Guard

Those who publicly criticize Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei betray the Islamic Revolution and its founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, says Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in the city of Kerman February 11, Soleimani lambasted those who “enjoy the establishment’s feast,” but “pose as opposition” and write public letters criticizing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“It is saddening that some people have labelled themselves as followers of [Islamic Revolution leader Khomeini’s] line, but instead of writing open letters criticizing the enemy and its global arrogance, they write letters criticizing the guardian of Islamic jurisprudence [Khamenei] who is standing on the frontline,” Soleimani said, according to IRGC-run news agency Tasnim.

Speaking in his hometown, Soleimani did not mention any names in his address, but it was clearly a response to an open letter written two weeks earlier by two-time former Speaker of the Parliament Mehdi Karroubi. In the letter, Karroubi wrote that Supreme Leader Khamenei is responsible for Iran’s current economic, social, political and cultural shortcomings.

Karroubi, 81, was one of the leaders of the protest movement that brought millions of Iranians to the streets following the disputed presidential election that re-installed ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term in 2009. Karroubi has been under house arrest since February 2011 along with former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard.

In the letter, Karroubi also harshly criticizes Khamenei for authorizing the political and economic activities of the IRGC and Baseej militia, which he says are harmful to the country.

“The actions of some of IRGC commanders have brought about political instability and created a despotism that has deprived the nation of its political rights and has put an end to the idea of the regime being a republic,” Karroubi wrote.

Responding to to Karroubi’s letter in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), another leader of the Islamic Revolution, Mojahedin Abolfazl Ghadyani, branded Khamenei a “dictator” and called upon President Rouhani and his reformist allies to end their policy of compromise with the Supreme Leader.

A reformist and former political prisoner, Ghadyani had earlier told the CHRI that the Supreme Leader’s criticism of President Hassan Rouhani is "rooted in the fact that the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize the people's vote.”