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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Iran's ex-Revolutionary Guards chief wants back top brass job

Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jan. 13 – The former chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who resigned his position with the hopes of establishing a political has announced that he wants back his former military post, according to a government-run Persian-language website.

As one of only a handful of IRGC commanders to shoulder the rank of Major General, Mohsen Rezai led the elite military force for over a decade before stepping down in 1997.

Earlier this week, while in the central city of Isfahan, Rezai announced that following the crash last year of a military plane in which several top IRGC commanders died, he wrote a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei requesting to be reinstated to his former military post.

Supreme Leader Khamenei, who has absolute control over all state matters, personally appoints the chiefs of Iran's armed forces.

Rezai made the remarks on the first anniversary of the death of Ahmad Kazemi, the commander of the IRGC Ground Forces, and seven other senior IRGC officers who were killed when their plane came down near Iran's north-western border with Turkey.

After leaving the Revolutionary Guards, Rezai aligned himself with former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and was appointed as Secretary-General of the State Expediency Council (SEC), the arbitrary body headed by Rafsanjani. Rumour in Iran's political circles is that Rezai had decided last year to switch his allegiance from the former president to the radical positions of Iran’s Supreme Leader.

Rezai told the North Korean ambassador to Iran in May 2006, “The next decade is the decade of the demise of the American empire”. Weeks earlier, he had said that a nuclear Iran would dominate 17 Muslim countries in the Middle East.

The IRGC was founded in the early days of the Islamic revolution in 1979 as an armed force loyal to Iran’s clerical rulers. Its commanders directly report to Khamenei and their mission is to "protect and propagate the Islamic revolution".

Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President in August 2005, hundreds of senior officers of the IRGC have been appointed to government ministries and state institutions to “prop up” the country’s civil administration as the Islamic Republic continues to defy the international community over its suspected nuclear weapons program.
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