In reaction to the publication of Ghassem Soleimani’s alleged statement about the Iranian presidential elections, a spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said that all such announcements by IRGC commanders should be handled by the public relations authorities of the IRGC. He added that otherwise, any announcement is “worthless.”
Fars news agency, which is close to the IRGC, carried the comments by the spokesman.
Iran newspaper, a publication close to Hassan Rouhani’s government, had published a statement from Soleimani, the famous Qods force commander, on its Telegram channel on Thursday, May 18, in which he allegedly announced that he is not supporting any presidential candidate.
“Any kind of misuse of [Soleimani’s] photos or expressed opinions is unethical,” it also said. The statement also quoted Soleimani as saying, “As always, he will stand by the beloved people for Iran’s development and progress.”
Neither Soleimani nor his office have commented on the publication of the statement or the ensuing reaction.
In the statement, Soleimani also says that according to the edict of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeni, the founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic who was “against the presence of the military in politics,” he will not get involved in political games.
In recent days, websites close to the incumbent, Rouhani, published photos of posters from the campaign of his challenger, Ebrahim Raeisi, showing the candidate with Soleimani. These websites accused the Raeisi campaign of having published these posters.
Three weeks earlier, the IRGC spokesperson had called on the candidates to avoid using Soleimani’s name or photos in their campaigns. But this did not prevent both conservative candidates, Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, from mentioning the commander’s name in the televised debates.
Rouhani has complained on many occasions about the “interference” of the IRGC in the elections. The IRGC has denied this accusation.
If Soleiman’s neutrality statement is true, it shows that the all-powerful commander chose to adopt his own clear stance in the election.