ISTANBUL | Beyond the power struggle playing out on the streets of Tehran is a complex battle for control of Iran’s intelligence ministry — a pivotal institution in the regime’s repression of dissent.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who began a second term this week, fired Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei late last month after Mr. Ejei objected to the president’s efforts to name an in-law as first vice president.
The departure of Mr. Ejei, a hard-line cleric close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, two other Khamenei loyalists and nearly 20 other high-ranking officials appeared to weaken the leader’s hold over the ministry and strengthen the power of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s elite military force.
The Guards have been heavily involved in the crackdown on dissent since the disputed June 12 presidential election, and there is an unconfirmed report that the force has created a parallel intelligence service called Tehran intelligence. Mr. Ahmadinejad and many of his closest allies are Guards veterans.
Mr. Ejei was responsible long before the elections for jailing numerous Iranians and Iranian-Americans on charges of promoting a so-called velvet revolution. However, he apparently was not loyal enough to Mr. Ahmadinejad.
“Ejei was so hard-line that no one believed he would not be tolerated by the Ahmadinejad camp,” said Fatemeh Shams, a political activist and doctoral candidate at Oxfo… >>>