The “Spring” Government who missed spring!

ByMehsa Mohammadi

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently wrote a letter to General Qassem Suleimani, “The least expectation is to act in a way that we won’t be considered a part of this grave injustice.” The “injustice” the head of the 9th and 10th Iranian government asks the Commander of  the Al Quds Force not to be a part of is the “injustice” to his former vice president, Hamid Baghaee, who was summoned to prison for his long-term conviction, a few days ago.
Now, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaee, a former advisor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is arrested as well. His lawyer says his charge is setting fire to Baghaee’s sentence in front of the British embassy in Tehran. Hamid Baghaee has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, 43 billion Tomans fine, and flogging on the charge of committing financial crimes while being an official in Ahmadinejad’s government. Ahmadinejad considers the conviction of people close to himself with heavy financial charges as a means of political retaliation from the Larijani brothers. The former president said emphatically to the Al Quds Force Commander that “his revolutionary, innocent brother” has been convicted with the “heaviest punishment” for “political motives and goals” and for what he considers as the Larijani brothers “doing business” between themselves, while asking Qassem Suleimani for his “support”.
The letter that wasn’t taken seriously
Previously, Ahmadinejad had written a letter to the judge in charge of Hamid Baghaee’ appeal request, saying that many Iranian officials run private institutes with the public budget. So, they cannot charge Hamid Baghaee for doing the same.
In a letter that Ahmadinejad wrote to the head judge of Baghaee’s appeal court branch, he emphasized that “no authority including judges can question his judgment regarding those who qualify for receiving rewards or help, let alone convicting him.”
In another part of the letter, it is written that people like “Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Gholamali Hadad Adel, and Ali Larijani” have taken from the public budget for their private institutes under their supervision. And people like “Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroodi, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Abdullah Javadi Amoli” too have taken from the public budget. Ahmadinejad continues that if they want to carefully investigate the public budget, they should investigate the, “63 bank accounts of the head of judiciary whose monthly profit – worth billions of Tomans – is spent by his personal discretion – without any legal auditing and without the supervision of the Court of Audit.”
From Fazel Larijani to Queen of England
During the past years, the wave of accusations from the past government of “Bahar” [the nickname for Ahmadinejad’s government] towards the judicial system and the Larijani brothers has been heavy – such as calling Sadegh Larijani’s daughter a spy, attacking their relations with Britain, highlighting financial corruption in the judicial system and their unsupervised bank accounts.
Every week, at least a couple of stories are raised by staunch critics of the judicial system, and every day they are looking for new ways to challenge the judicial branch – from a sit-in in at Shah Abdulazim’s shrine to Baghaee using a red plastic basket to carry his file to court.
Nevertheless, it might be said that the first time these differences were revealed and taken to the press was in 2012, when Ahmadinejad exposed in parliament, when he released the content of a meeting between Fazel Larijani and Saeed Mortazavi, the then head of the Social Welfare Organization, thus accusing the brother of the head of judiciary (Sadegh Larijani) and the speaker of Parliament (Ali Larijani) of corruption. In one of the latest moves of this group, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaee, an advisor and close friend of Ahmadinejad and Baghaee, symbolically set fire to a part of Hamid Baghee’s sentence in front of the British embassy in Tehran, thus implying that the judicial branch has ties to this country. He said that Baghaee has been imprisoned by orders from the Queen of England.
Too late for remorse
On the other hand, the trace of what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls “doing business” with the IRGC can be seen in the charges brought against Hamid Baghaee and his correspondence with Qassem Suleimani before going to prison. One of the charges directed towards Hamid Baghaee is the embezzlement of 3.5 million euros that is claimed to have been given to him by the Al Quds Force to be distributed among leaders of African countries. One day after asking Qassem Suleimani for support, Ahmadinejad criticized him for his silence in front of the “injustice” that is happening, saying if any money has been given to Baghaee, it must become clear “why, what for, how, based on what law, and upon whose request has this measure been taken on the day when he [Baghaee] had no official position any longer.” At the end of his letter, Ahmadinejad has implicitly threatened Qassem Suleimani, saying “soon the oppressors will be discredited, and that day is too late for remorse.”
The questions that Ahmadinejad puts to Suleimani were raised by Baghaee before going to jail.
In a letter to Qassem Suleimani, Hamid Baghaee denied receiving foreign currency from the Al Quds Force, asking Suleimani to deny this claim as well. In his letter, Baghaee emphasized that the charge of him being given foreign currency to distribute among leaders of African countries would, as well, question the IRGC: “this false claim questions you and the entity under your command, and it means that without observing laws and regulations, you give the treasury’s money to those with no official responsibility.”
However, Ramazan Sharif, the IRGC spokesperson, didn’t directly reply to Baghaee’s claim, saying “the sentence issued by the judiciary system is exact and strong and based on evidence and reasoning; bringing about repetitious scenarios against entities and certain figures in the country will not commute the suspects’ crimes.” The prosecutor office issued the text of Baghaee’s sentence, according to which he has embezzled 3,766,000 euros and $590,000 from the money that the IRGC had given to him “for affairs related to African countries.” Now Ahmadinejad is using all his leverage, while criticizing and addressing his “brother” [Suleimani] in the media, thus creating new questions and ambiguities about the IRGC’s financial resources and transactions. For example, he asks Suleimani about Mahan Airline- on what legal auditing and at what price has this company, which belongs to the private foundation of Mol al-Movahedin in which Suleimani is a senior member, been sold to the Headquarters for Executing Orders of Khomeini?
Mashaee’s secret
So far, it seems that despite all these correspondences and targeting sensitive parts Iran by the former president and his friends, there aren’t any fundamental obstacles in their path as they expose and attack. “Revolutionary entities” do not act revolutionarily against their old friends and have even kept silent against their threats – a strange reaction which has provoked many taunts and speculations in this regard, and sometimes it has even made the younger hardliners very angry.
In his Twitter, Abbas Abdi, a sociologist, and reformist activist explains the reason for such confrontation as such, “The reason why Ahmadinejad and Mashaee are not confronted is that the establishment cannot afford to put more of its own people on trial. Because if anyone, particularly the reformists, said just a few of such things, not only they but also their relatives would be in big trouble.” But with arresting Rahim Mashaee, it seems that these confrontations have entered a new phase. Hardliners are exposing him and making his case worse by creating “Mashaee’s secret” on cyberspace.
Right now, only one of the “Bahar’s men” is not in prison. Ahmadinejad, in his statement on Mashaee’s arrest, has no hope for the support of the leader and Suleimani, saying that he will “complain about these injustices to Imam Zaman.” He has urged that no doubt such behaviors “will not have any better consequences for those who commit them, than what has happened in the past.” The nature of the statement doesn’t indicate that the former president will continue like before, and we should wait and see what he will do in the future. Will he continue to expose the judicial system and the IRGC while still taunting the leader every now and then, or will he keep quiet?

Translated Material: Zeitoun Website

Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of Rasanah

Mehsa Mohammadi
Mehsa Mohammadi
Political Analyst