In all, at least 24 IRGC and Basij commanders, mainly colonels and brigadier generals are present inthe new Majles. What do we know about them and why their presence in Iran’s weakened parliament is important?
The IRGC has always had a sizable presence at the Majles. But its presence in the new Iranian parliament is more eye-catching as too many high-ranking officers have shed their uniform to turn politicians while the Majles is dominated by hardliners who align themselves with the guards.
Qalibaf, A Brigadier General Turned Majles Speaker
The first symbol of the IRGC’s influence in the parliament is IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (Ghalibaf). He was the IRGC’s Air Force commander from 1997 to 2000. Before that he was the commander of IRGC brigades and divisions during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
After the war, he continued his career as a division commander and became the commander of the IRGC’s financial conglomerate, the Khatamolanbia HQ, for three years from 1993 to 1997.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has allowed IRGC commanders to take off the uniform and put it back on. They can become officials at state bureaucracyand can even be elected as members of parliament. Several IRGC commanders shed their uniform to become MPs and later returned to the IRGC.
Former MP Mohammad Kowsari is an example. As an IRGC division commander, he was elected an MP twice. When he failed in the 2016 Majles election, he put on his uniform once again and became the IRGC’s most important commander in Tehran and in charge of keeping sensitive centers secure in case of a riot, protest or other threats.
Presidium Member Ahmad Amirabadi
Ahmad Amirabadi, a member of the presidium in the new Majles is an IRGC member. According to his official website, he joined the IRGC in 1990 after having served in the war with Iraq. Since then, he has held many cultural, educational, managerial and commanding positions at the IRGC. He also served with the IRGC as a cultural officer in Qom.
Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, Presidium Spokesperson
He has already been an MP for 12 years and there is no indication of his possible resignation from the IRGC.
Presidium Member Hossein Ali Haji Deligani
He has been an MP for many terms and is a highly experienced IRGC and Basij commander. He has served with the IRGC during the war and after the war became the commander of Basij in Zarrin Shahr, Najafabad, and Isfahan.
Presidium Member Nasser Mousavi Largani, Khomeini’s Bodyguard
He has been the MP for Falavarjan for four terms.
Presidium Member Mohsen Dehnavi
Dehnavi became known to the media after he was denied entry into the United States in 2019 for being a well-known member of the student Basij which operates under the IRGC.
Presidium Member Mohsen Pirhadi
He is one of the closest MPs to Qalibaf and was the commander of Basij at the Municipality of Tehran when Qalibaf was the mayor.
IRGC Members of Parliament:
Other than seven out of the 12 members of the presidium, there are well-known IRGC and Basij commanders among other MPs who can shape the political orientation of the Majles. These include:
Mojtaba Zolnuri, former IRGC brigade commander for 22 years, known to be one of the most hardline IRGC officers, former MP and chairman of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee during the last year of the previous round of the parliament.
Javad Karimi Qoddousi, a controversial figure who has been an MP for three terms, a staunch critic of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, former commander of Basij in Khorasan and several other provinces. His own website refers to him as a “general”.
Fereidoun Abbasi, former nuclear chief under President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, former dean of faculty of Physics at the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University,
Brigadier General Ali Akbar Alizadeh, Retired IRGC air force commander, former commander of IRGC in Semnan Province,
Brigadier General Habibollah Aghajari, former senior commander at the IRGC Naval Force,
Brigadier General Sohrab Gilani, former commander of IRGC in Khouzestan, former Basij commander in Tehran, served as Khamenei’s bodyguard,
Other MPs with an IRGC background include: Colonel Mohammad Tala Mazloumi, Colonel Gholamreza Shariati, Colonel Hossein Hatami, Colonel Ebrahim Matinian, as well as Alireza Varnaseri, Ghodratollah Hamzeh, Ahmad Rastineh and Jafar Rasti.
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