By Sammy Benoit of The Lid
” People are being shot like animals…people are being beaten like animals…..people are being hit with an axe in the heart….they are throwing people off the bridge…You people should stop this its time to act”
Through all of the Hate there is hope, one Iranian Blogger reports that half the revolutionary guard is on the side of the people:
Half of Revolutionary Guard Commanders are on People’s Side
translated by bij | source: DW-Interview in Persian originally published on June 24
One week after the current protests had begun in Iran the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) issued its first statement on June 22.
This delay reinforces the rumors of a wide rift among the high ranking commanders of the IRG. Mohsen Sazegar, one of the founders of the IRG acknowledges this rift. He left Iran a few years ago and now is the director of center of studies of Modern Iran in Washington, DC. He believes that there are three groups within the IRG. He says that about 50 percent of high ranking commanders and more than 70 percent of mid-level personnel are not supporting the use of force against people. He adds that very soon this rift will become visible and people will see the IRG joining them. Mitra Shojaee from the Persian division of Deutsche Welle (www.dw-world.de) had an interview with Sazegara:
DW: Mr. Sazegara, almost a week after the protests to the results of the presidential election the IRG issued issued a statement yesterday. It was a rather strong statement. Is there a reason for this delay?
Sazegara: This statement which reminds me of such statements issued by army officials controlling some cities in the early days of the revolution came out very late. Many believe that the internal rift within IRG and the opposition by IRG commanders who do not want to stand against people is the source of this delay.
DW: Therefore, this rumor of the arrest of the well known IRG General Ali Fazli might be of substance?
Sazegara: Yes, especially that there are talks about some other generals as well. However, I cannot give a definite answer about General Feizi at this time. These days I hear many people from IRG how are not happy with what is happening in the name of the IRG.
DW: What is the nature of this dissident group, are they among very high level commanders or the main body of IRG, are they among the older commanders or they have joined IRG recently?
Sazegara: As far as I know the IRG can be partitioned to three parts. One is the main body of the IRG which is pretty much like the Iranian society, they are mostly against Mr. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. The second part is the mid-level commanders which 70-80 percent of them are also not happy and do not support standing against people. However, the people I mentioned before are among very high ranking commanders. One of my friends told me that among these people the situation is 50-50. This means that half of them are on people side and the other half are supporting these actions. Most likely very soon this internal rift within the IRG will become public and people will see the result and those commanders who are on people side will show their protest publicly.
DW: I exactly wanted to ask this question, so where is this 50 percent, why aren’t they expressing their opposition to these killings of people? 50 percent is not a small portion.
Sazegara: Well, disobedience in armed forces is not easy. It might cost their lives. We should wait. If people protest more and express their opinions louder then these guys will endanger their lives and joint the people.
DW: The question people ask themselves more than ever is that “who are those armed but un-uniformed forces who attack people? Are they members of IRG or related to the IRG? or are they related to other entities such as the intelligence ministry?”
Sazegara: This un-uniformed force is a special brigade under the intelligence division of the IRG. They are trained to beat people. In the past years and during the reformists time whenever there was a gathering to show protest, they showed up either on motorcycles or on foot, beat the protesters and injured them with knives or metal sticks. These days they are armed too. For the last twelve years this force has been effectively the suppression machine of Mr. Khamenei. However, now the problem is that this machine is not effective in encountering a crowd of millions. This force was effective in suppressing small gatherings of about 2000 or 5000 students, women or other groups but not in suppressing a large crowd of people. Also if this white-shirt force continue their behaviors they will make people angrier. People do not mind the uniformed forces or even the Basij and even if attacked by these forces people try to be kind to them and to not let the government alienate these forces. However, people think about the un-uniformed forces differently. The reason is that no one in the government accepts the responsibility of what these guys do, even not the government admits that these un-uniformed forces are related to it and only indirectly accepts responsibility for their actions. You may remember the death Fatwa of Mr. Khomeini about similar thugs in the early days of the revolution. At that time whenever asked about that Fatwa I said that no, we will not commit violence and we try to talk to their families. Now I warn them that if they continue these acts there are people who are ready to execute Khomeini’s Fatwa and stop them or even kill them.
DW: In a recent article as you mentioned before, you invited people to befriend the uniformed forces from the IRG to even the Basij. Why do you think this might be helpful?
Sazegara: It is very simple. These guys that Mr. Khamenei that wants to use to suppress the people are of the same kind as the people. They also have hardships in their lives, their children might think like the rest of the people or their family members might be among the demonstrators and they do not see it justified to commit violence. People must open their arms to the IRG and the Basij. Experience from Iran and other countries show that such acts make these institutions very fragile and causes them to joint the people very fast.
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