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August 10, 2009

Iran Purges Intelligence Ministry Officials

AP has an story about a shakeup in the Intelligence Ministry being instigated by Ahmadinejad. Notably, he is getting push-back from other conservatives, many of whom are still upset about his appointment of Mashaei and temporary refusal to dismiss him.

TEHRAN, Iran — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired at least four senior Intelligence Ministry figures in a purge targeting officials who disagreed with the crackdown on the opposition after the disputed presidential election, lawmakers and media said Monday.
The purge deepens a rift between Ahmadinejad and critics within his own conservative camp and also reveals splits within the security establishment itself over the heavyhanded suppression of the pro-reform opposition since the June 12 election. […]
The Intelligence Ministry purge was reportedly sparked by the refusal of some top officials to back the government’s claims that the wave of postelection protests were part of an opposition “velvet revolution” aimed at overthrowing the clerical leadership. Some in the ministry had reportedly opposed broadcasting confessions by detainees that the opposition says were obtained by abuse.
Pro-reform Web sites reported that more than a dozen senior ministry officials were fired or forced to resign in the past few weeks, but the total number remained unclear.
Conservative and pro-reform media identified four deputy ministers who were removed – including the head of counterespionage and a 25-year veteran, both of whom were “trusted” by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to one conservative Web site Khabaronline.
The purge appeared to reflect tensions between the ministry and the elite Revolutionary Guard, which has been the main force behind the wave of arrests. The dismissals, ordered by Ahmadinejad and a deputy he appointed at the ministry, were supervised by two hard-line clerics, Hossein Taeb and Ahmad Salek, who are strong backers of Ahmadinejad and hold key positions within the Guard, according to Hasan Younesi, son of a former intelligence minister.
“Ahmadinejad has effectively taken command of the country’s most important security body and is settling scores,” said Younesi, whose father Ali Younesi served as minister during the 1997-2005 pro-reform administration. Both father and son maintain close links with the intelligence community.
Younesi said the dismissals targeted officials who did not support the government’s claims of a “velvet revolution” plot.
Ahmad Avai, a conservative lawmaker, said parliament was considering a probe into the dismissals.
“There is justified concern … if this trend continues, irreparable damage will be inflicted on the Intelligence Ministry,” Avai said, according to the hard-line daily Jomhuri-e-Eslami on Monday.
The ministry put out a statement Monday saying “some incorrect reports” have been made in the media, referring to the reports of dismissals, but did not elaborate. It warned that media publishing the names of ministry officials could be prosecuted.

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