Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Passdaran Commander Refuted

Esfandiar Safari, Rooz Online:
Two days after some newspapers and news agencies in Iran quoted the supreme Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps commander as saying that the Baseej paramilitary forces (that operate under the command of the Passdaran) should never interfere in the lives of people, other senior Passdaran and Baseej leaders defended the right of Baseej to create road checks inside cities and particularly in Tehran.

Mohammad Hejazi, the commander of the Baseej force said yesterday that what has been attributed to the Passdaran commander was not correct. He claimed that what commander Rahim Safavi had said was simply to people should be more vigilant at these road checks, and that he had said that the stops were illegal.

Over the past weeks and with the heightening of Iran’s nuclear issue, and with the news that the police will be confronting women who do not fully observe the Islamic dress code in public, people’s discontent has reached the ears of higher government officials. So the two events - president Ahmadinejad’s instructions allowing women to attend public sporting events, and the announcement by the Passdaran commander that the Baseej had no right to interfere in the private lives of people - may have been the only course of action available to the government to diffuse the growing public discontent. Rahim Safavi had said, in the presence of the Baseej, that he earnestly requested them not to interfere in the private lives of people. “Baseejis have no right to stop cars and ask their occupants to show them their ID cards or even to inspect their CDs.”

But the words of the Passdaran commander carried only as much weight as did the words of the president because just two days later, another Passdaran commander came out and refuted what Safavi had said. Other Baseej commanders have come forward and stated that the press reported Safavi’s words inaccurately. The Public Relations office of the Passdaran too came out in support of Baseej and said that the force can stop and inspect vehicles. Seyed Ahmad Mir-Morshedi said that creating check points is the inherent right of the Baseej, which is fully supported by the Passdaran. READ MORE

The Baseej has played a very prominent role in the life of the Islamic regime. More recently, its forces participated in the presidential elections, and many believe tipped the outcome in favor of Ahmadinejad. Today, many of its commanders hold senior official positions.

And as Safavi’s words were challenged and refuted, there is also news that the president’s deputy in parliamentary affairs implicitly conceded that the instructions to allow women to attend sporting events in stadiums has been rescinded.