The Untold Story of a Rigged Election
June 30, 2005
The US Alliance for Democratic Iran

In case you missed it, a well-organized political coup last week propelled an obscure radical with a wicked past as a hostage-taker, assassin, and interrogator - nicknamed “the Terminator” by colleagues for firing coup de grace shots at political prisoners - into the office of presidency.

The move, backed and blessed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and engineered by the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), cements the dominance of the ultra-conservative faction of the ruling regime over all key levers of power in Iran.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former commander of the IRGC, was declared the winner in last week’s rigged presidential elections. The untold story of the elections, however, was the evident metamorphosis of the ideological army of the mullahs, the IRGC, into a full political-military powerhouse.

Ahmadinejad’s Presidency, therefore, will have major internal and foreign policy implications. Constitutionally, office of presidency in Iran has little power or control over key domestic or foreign policy issues. These issues are all decided by the office of the Supreme Leader. It is however a different matter when the person occupying the presidential office is a crony of Khamenei and will act as an executor of the office of the Supreme Leader.

As one analyst told the Time magazine after elections, “Ahmadinejad is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind him are the regime's most powerful political and military institutions."

Ahmadinejad has not wasted any time to articulate the direction of his presidency, which gives a sneak preview into the thinking of the IRGC elite. According to Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, he vowed this week to spread the “new” Islamic revolution throughout the world.

He told the agency, "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen and the Islamic revolution of 1384 (the current Iranian year) will, God willing, cut off the roots of injustice in the world." "The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world," the former assassin told IRNA.

What is more, the IRGC-sponsored Lebanese Hezbollah said that the election of Ahmadinejad would “revive and rejuvenate” the goals of the Islamic Revolution.

“With the victory of Ahmadinejad in Iran’s presidential race, this country returned to the foundations and revolutionary objectives which Ayatollah [Ruhollah] Khomeini founded,” a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau was quoted by the Iran Focus as saying.

With such policy pronouncements, Ahmadinejad, an obscure figure for Iranians until recently, should feel very much at home in the presidential office. He was a commander of the Guards Corps’ Qods (Jerusalem) Force, tasked with “exporting the revolution to Qods (Jerusalem) through Karbala”.

For all the self-congratulatory diplomatic dispatches from their embassies in Tehran to their home office, predicting an easy victory for Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and even meeting with his close aides in Tehran right before the elections, the EU’s Big-3 now have to deal with a new President who is a member of the Old Guard.

The recently published photo reportedly showing Ahmadinejad holding an American hostage in November 1979, fits well with his recent tirade against the United States, vowing, “the wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.”

Ahmadinejad’s win also serves as a wake-up call that we are indeed dealing with an irreformable fundamentalist regime that has all centers of theocratic power, the judiciary, the Parliament and now the presidency under his control. The IRGC, aided by para-military Bassij force and a multitude of security and intelligence agencies, has been in full control of internal security and crackdown on dissent since 1979.

In addition, through the spread and sponsorship of terrorism, covert actions to undermine regional rivals and assassination of prominent Iranian dissidents, it has made its international presence felt since 1980. Last year, Supreme Leader Khamenei, who had already placed Iran’s nuclear development under the IRGC’s command, praised it for “running effective intelligence and diplomatic operations” in Iraq.

It is imperative that we fully comprehend the policy ramifications of Ahmadinejad’s win and articulate our long-overdue Iran policy accordingly. The proposed “wait-and-see” response by the EU will not add anything substantial to the equation. The writing is on the wall: The ruling regime is incapable of change and the policy of engagement has been dealt a serious blow and must be discontinued. Only when Iran tyrants are unseated by the Iranian people, this growing regional and global menace will be neutralized.