Gen. Jafari points to long-term Iranian presence
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who have propped up the Assad regime since 2012, have declared a long-term commitment to remaining in Syria.
Guards commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari (pictured) said on State TV on Thursday, “The Guards are ready to play an active role in establishing a lasting ceasefire in Syria…and reconstruction of the country.”
Jafari hit back at demands, including from Israel, for the withdrawal of Iranian-led foreign militias as part of a Syrian resolution. He said disarming Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a vital Iranian ally, is out of the question:
The Guards have established an extensive economic presence in Syria during the 80-month conflict. Their units and militias have claimed phosphate mines in the east of the country and pursued the recapture of oil and gas fields. In southern Damascus, they have taken over key property linking the Assad regime’s Presidential Palace and other buildings with military bases to the southwest of the capital. They have cleared residents in the name of development and set up checkpoints around Damascus’s largest two Shia mosques.
Jafari implicitly referred to the position on Thursday: “In meetings with the [Iranian] government, it was agreed that the Guards were in a better position to help Syria’s reconstruction…the preliminary talks already have been held with the Syrian government over the issue.”
Ahmadinejad: Judiciary is More Powerful Than Supreme Leader
Defending his embattled allies, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared that Iran’s judiciary is more powerful than the Supreme Leader.
In a video interview posted on Thursday, Ahmadinejad said that, because of the neglect of justice by the judiciary and its head Sadeq Amoli Larijani, “the whole country is in danger”.
Last week Ahmadinejad’s former Vice President Hamid Baghaei, senior advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr, and Habibollah Joz-Khorasani claimed sanctuary in a southern Tehran shrine after they were summoned to court.
Baghaei was detained for months in 2015 and briefly in July on charges of embezzlement. Former 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi is serving a 5-year prison sentence for fraud. And last week former Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei was officially charged last week for insults of the Supreme Leader, propaganda against the regime, illegal usage of government assets, insults of high-ranking state officials, and spreading of lies.
Ahmadinejad has said in speeches, including one near the sanctuary shrine last week, that the charges are fabricated and politically-motivated, criticizing Sadeq Larijani and his brother, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.