In unprecedented remarks a senior commander of the Iranian regular Army has implicitly lambasted Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard for meddling in the country’s political and economic affairs.
The Coordinating Deputy of the Islamic Republic’s Army (Artesh), Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, bitterly expressed his dissatisfaction for the army being ignored by the country's state-controlled media.
The Islamic Republic government's official news agency, IRNA, published a short video of its interview with the Rear Admiral. The video, entitled "Untold stories of the Army by General Amir Sayyari," was removed from IRNA's website on Sunday, May 31, a few hours after it was posted. IRNA has not explained the reason behind its decision.
The Insaf News website says IRNA's Director-General of Domestic News, Pedram Alvandi, has declined to comment.
However, about fourteen minutes of the videotaped interview has been republished on other websites.
As a rule, commanders of the regular Army have always been careful to avoid commenting on political and economic affairs of the country, let alone criticizing the IRGC, which is said to be the dominant force in Iran's internal and international affairs.
During the interview, Rear Admiral Sayyari insisted that the army respects rules and does not step into political and economic activities, adding, "Does this mean that we do not understand politics? Not at all. We grasp politics well, we analyze it well, we understand it well, but we don't get into politics since politicization is harmful and damaging for the Armed Forces."
Meanwhile, Sayyari has not missed the chance to sharply criticize the Islamic Republic propaganda outlets, including the monopolized state-owned Radio&TV (Seda va Sima) networks, for disregarding the regular army's achievements.
Sayyari disclosed that immediately after state TV aired some "false comments about Iran's territorial waters" accusing the Army of "negligence", "I filed a legal complaint against Seda va Sima, and wrote a letter to its director," Sayyari said, adding, "Yet, nobody responded (to my letter)."
An Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) veteran and seasoned navy man, Syyari has gone even further asserting that "something is going on behind the scenes at Seda va Sima."
Sayyari, who has served in the Iranian Army since 1974, first in the Imperial Army, was directly appointed by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as the Chief Commander of the Iranian regular Navy in 2007. After a decade at the position, he was installed as the Coordinating Deputy of the Army, in 2017.
In his interview with IRNA, Sayyari also criticized the Army's absence from the state propaganda, including movies, while religious men are falsely presented as "heroes" who were capable to wipe out a division with only one single machine gun. If that was the case, Sayyari quipped, "Why the war took eight years?"
Moreover, Sayyari expressed disappointment with the portrayal of Brigadier General Valiollah Fallahi in the movie, Che', directed by the so-called "Islamic revolutionary film director", Ebrahim Hatami Kia.
Valiollah Fallahi (1931 – 29 September 1981), was Chief-Commander of the Iranian Army commander ground forces and prominent figure during the first year of the Iran–Iraq War. He died in a plane crash on 29 September 1981 along with three other senior commanders of the Army.
The portrayal of Commander Fallahi in the movie, Che', was so disappointing, Sayyari says, that he personally told the director, Hatami Kia, "This is n-o-t my Commander's image, and it has brought me to tears." In the movie the crucial role of the army is played down while the role of the Revolutionary Guard, a nascent force, is glorified.
The existence of discrimination against Iran's regular Army and preventing it from coming out of the IRGC's long shadow has been frequently referred to in the past four decades.
Proponents of the Islamic Republic note that the army's duty is "defending the country" while the IRGC's is "defending the ruling system," meaning the regime.