IRGC and Rafsanjani’s Death

By Alex Vatanka | Senior Fellow - Middle East Institute | Jan 10, 2017
IRGC and Rafsanjani’s Death

The generals of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have been busy mourning the death of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. That is at least the public show they have put on. Since his death, several top IRGC commanders have hailed Rafsanjani as a pillar of the Islamic Republic and a hero in the so-called struggle against Western powers. Such public show of grief, however, is hardly convincing. In recent weeks prior to his death, IRGC-run media and personalities had unleashed a barrage of new attacks against Rafsanjani. The simple truth is that Rafsanjani was deeply hated by the hardliners in Tehran as much as he was loved as the unofficial godfather of the so-called moderate forces in Iran.

In a recent television interview on Iranian state TV, Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan newspaper – a position that is directly appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei - attacked Rafsanjani as if he was a counter-revolutionary determined to bring down the regime. Shariatmadari called him a sponsor of the “seditionists” (fetne-gara). Another Khamenei loyalist, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of Iran’s so-called Human Rights Council, said only a few days before Rafsanjani’s death that “due to his policies we have to distance ourselves from Rafsanjani.” This was code to say that Rafsanjani was not as obedient to Khamenei and the regime (the Nezam) as he should be.

In Tasnim, a news outlet run by the IRGC, Larijani openly said that the “reformists” provided the ammunition that the Green opposition movement relied on in the protests of 2009. Everyone knew that Larijani was speaking about Rafsanjani and his political allies. Elsewhere, just this past week, IRGC figures hinted that Rafsanjani needed to be arrested. That he had in 2009 betrayed the nation the way he had allegedly betrayed the nation during the Iran-Iraq War by pushing for a ceasefire. And as soon as Rafsanjani’s death was announced, the same Tasnim and the same IRGC figures suddenly started hailing Rafsanjani as a revolutionary hero. Anyone watching the sad spectacle understands that the IRGC and hardliners' mourning of Rafsanjani's death is insincere.

Read more: