Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Say NO to Sepahis!

Browsing some Farsi websites and blogs, I came across a number of comments arguning that there is nothing wrong with having a president with military background. They justify their point by saying that those who have served in military are in fact better able to run a country, considering that, they argue, part of the training in military is about discipline and patriotism. This could generally be the case, but what seems to be ignored is that here we are concerned with a different type of military,that is, Sepah (Iran's Revolutionary Guard).
As a matter of fact, 'patirotism' has no place in the the dominant ideological discourse in Sepah. In Sepah, as in Artesh -the other constituting force of Iranian army, there is an Office of Ideological and Political teachings (Aghidati-Siyasi). All Sepah members must attend the courses offered by this office on regular basis. Ironcially, there is no mentioning of patriotism in these courses. Instead, there are teachings about Islam. But not a tolerant or pluralistic interpretation of Isalm. Rather, the dominant ideology is based on an understanding of Islam which is nowadays refered to as 'radical Islam'.
Sepahis are thus brainwashed, under most advanced and sophisticated methods, to be prepared to 'defend Islam' by whatever means possible, even if it would take them to commit most horrendous acts agains their own compatriots. Defending Iran and Iranians is secondary to defending Islam. Therefore, if a Sepahi comes to choose between defending a Bahai Iranian and a Muslim man of another nationality, the teachings oblige him to take up the second option.
I have lots of evidence, including many from my personal experience, to back up my point here, but I guess mentioning one would suffices to establish my argument that it is very dangerous, not only for Iran but possibly for the whole region, to have a Sepahi as Iran's president. That evidence is the notorious letter, which the commanders of Sepah wrote to Khatami shortly after he had taken office in 1997. In that letter top ranking Sepahi commanders, Ghalibaf among them, warned Khatami to take action to limit the freedom people were starting to enjoy, otherwise they (i.e. Sepahis) would 'know how to handle the situation'. How many democtaric countries in the world do we know where the national army, whose responsibility is to defend people and their freedom, threatens to confront its own people? Is it not a solid evidence to prove the 'anti-patriotic' characterisitc of the dominant ideology in Sepah? Then how can we elect a Sepahi as the president of our nation?

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