Joined: 24 Feb 2003
|Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 6:54 am Post subject: Eye of the Storm: Behind the scenes in Teheran - Amir Taheri
|Eye of the Storm: Behind the scenes in Teheran
By Amir Taheri
The Jerusalem Post
August 15, 2005
Moments after it was presented to the Islamic Majlis in Teheran on Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first cabinet was labeled by his defeated rivals and most Iran-watchers as a group of "hard-liners" handpicked by the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei.
Former majlis member Behzad Nabavi, a theorist of the Rafsanjani-Khatami faction which lost the presidential election to Ahamdinejad, has described him as nothing but "a presidential secretary to the supreme guide."
Such analyses, however, could be seen as sour grapes on the part of a faction facing not only a loss of power but possible prosecution on a range of charges related to corruption, mismanagement and murder. In fact, Ahmadinejad has promised to publish an exhaustive report on the state of the Islamic Republic at the time of his accession to the presidency. Such a report cannot but be an indictment of the Rafsanjani-Khatami administrations.
The truth is that Ahmadinejad's cabinet represents a new power coalition in which Khamenei, far from being the puppet-master, emerges as one player, albeit a big player, among many.
Last June's presidential election represented a turning point in the history of the Islamic Republic for a number of reasons. This was the first time in a quarter of a century that a non-mullah was becoming president. Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the man defeated in the election, was one of the two biggest hitters within the clerical ruling elite and regarded as a pillar of the regime since 1979. That unexpected outcome was made possible by Khamenei, also a mullah, who decided to abandon his turbaned camp and ally himself to the new power coalition represented by Ahamdinejad.
But what does this new coalition consist of?
THE COMPOSITION of Ahmadinejad's cabinet provides some clues. The backbone of the new coalition consists of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a 350,000-strong parallel army which, if its veterans are taken into account, represents a popular base of between two and three million, including families of officers and men. That base is further broadened thanks to the Baseej Mustazafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed), a paramilitary force of some 4.5 million active and reservist fighters.
Of the 21 members of the new cabinet at least eight have backgrounds of service in either the IRCG or the Baseej.
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