Appointment For Highly effective Coverage-Shaping Publish Is ‘Signal Of Rising Affect’ Of The IRGC

Welcome again to The Farda Briefing, an RFE/RL e-newsletter that tracks the important thing points in Iran and explains why they matter. To subscribe, click on right here.

I am RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari. This is what I have been following in the course of the previous week and what I am awaiting within the days forward.

The Huge Subject

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has appointed Ali Akbar Ahmadian, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as the brand new secretary of the Supreme Nationwide Safety Council (SNSC). Ahmadian replaces Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, an ethnic Arab who had served as secretary of the important thing policy-shaping physique since 2013 and not too long ago signed a China-brokered settlement aimed toward mending ties with Saudi Arabia.

Shamkhani had come below scrutiny over his ties to British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari, who was hanged in January after being convicted of spying for the UK. Shamkhani, a former protection minister below reformist President Mohammad Khatami, has additionally confronted allegations of corruption, which he denies.

He was appointed to the SNSC by former relative reasonable President Hassan Rohani. In accordance with conservative political activist Mansoor Haghighatour, the hard-line Raisi had sought to exchange Shamkhani since taking up as president in 2021, however had not been capable of finding an appropriate substitute.

Raisi settled on the 62-year-old Ahmadian, a dentist and a veteran of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq Battle who rose via the ranks of the IRGC and headed the IRGC’s Strategic Middle. Ahmadian additionally beforehand served as chief of the IRGC’s Joint Employees and as commander of the IRGC’s naval forces.

Not like Shamkhani, who served below numerous governments, Ahmadian doesn’t have any political expertise, and he is nearly unknown to the general public.

Why It Issues: Ahmadian’s appointment comes at a essential time for the Islamic republic, which faces an ailing economic system crushed by U.S. sanctions in addition to widespread anti-regime sentiment following the current wave of nationwide antiestablishment protests. It additionally comes amid hypothesis about who would possibly succeed Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who’s 84 and who underwent prostate surgical procedure in 2014.

What’s Subsequent: Analysts consider the reshuffling within the SNSC is unlikely to have an instantaneous influence on state insurance policies within the Islamic republic, the place the supreme chief has the final say in all state issues.

“I do not suppose there will likely be a change in home insurance policies, state repression, and international and regional insurance policies,” Paris-based analyst Reza Alijani informed RFE/Rl’s Radio Farda.

Alijani famous that Shamkhani was changed with “a navy determine who had been till now lively behind the scenes” and who doesn’t carry any political baggage, in contrast to his predecessor.

Sina Azodi, a lecturer of worldwide affairs at George Washington College, informed me that Ahmadian’s appointment highlights the rising management of the IRGC over the nation’s affairs.

“I feel that Shamkhani’s departure — who was near the reformists, he was Khatami’s protection minister, and to pragmatic forces, he was appointed to the SNSC by Rohani — is one more signal of the rising affect of IRGC forces in Iran’s safety institution and decision-making,” Azodi mentioned. “Shamkhani stays the highest-ranking Iranian naval officer and is being changed by an IRGC commander of decrease rank, which in itself is fascinating.”

Azodi additionally prompt that Ahmadian’s nomination to the SNSC may have an effect on the succession course of by giving the IRGC extra affect.

Tales You May Have Missed

Outstanding photojournalist Yalda Moayeri has protested the sharp rise in executions in Iran, the place over 200 individuals have been hanged to date this 12 months.

The household of Mahsa Amini has accused Iran’s safety forces of vandalizing the grave of the younger lady, whose loss of life whereas in police custody in September 2022 ignited nationwide protests that changed into one of many largest threats to the Islamic republic’s management because it took energy in 1979.

What We’re Watching

Iran’s judiciary has introduced that two imprisoned journalists who helped break Amini’s story — Elhahe Mohammadi and Niloufar Hamedi — will go on trial subsequent week. A judiciary spokesman mentioned on Might 23 that Mohammadi’s preliminary listening to will likely be held on Might 29, whereas the listening to for Hamedi will likely be held on Might 30.

The 2 journalists face quite a lot of expenses, together with “collaborating with the hostile authorities of America, conspiracy and collusion to commit crimes towards nationwide safety, and propaganda towards the institution.”

Hamedi’s husband, Mohammad Hossein Ajorlu, was quoted by home media as saying on Might 23 that the attorneys of the 2 imprisoned journalists haven’t but been in a position to meet with them.

Why It Issues: Mohammadi from the Sharq every day and Hamedi from Hammihan have been in jail since September for doing their jobs: protecting Amini’s September 16 loss of life whereas within the custody of the morality police and the following a number of months of nationwide antiestablishment protests in Iran.

Hamedi reported from the Tehran hospital the place Amini was taken following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s hijab rule, whereas Hamedi reported from Amini’s funeral in her hometown of Saghez. Their plight highlights the dire state of affairs of press freedom in Iran, which is listed 177th out of 180 nations ranked in Reporters With out Borders’ 2023 press freedom index.

That is all from me for now. Remember to ship me any questions, feedback, or ideas that you’ve.

Till subsequent time,

Golnaz Esfandiari

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