Major General Ataollah Salehi, Chief Commander of Iranian Army described controlled army policies used to dissuade soldiers that have shown support for opposition figures.
According to ILNA, Major General Salehi told an official gathering: “When we went in barracks and saw for example pictures of leaders of sedition in the rooms of some of the soldiers, we would not tell them to tear the pictures. We rather told the political-ideological advisors to try to gently work on their sensibilities so that they would discard the pictures of their own volition.”
The Islamic Republic establishment refers to MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi as “leaders of sedition” and accuses them of threatening the regime by making allegations of fraud against the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential elections.
The statements of the Major General regarding support for the opposition amongst the soldiers, was deleted from the ILNA reports a few hours after publishing.
The election protests of the past year and a half has created deep rifts in the ranks of the Islamic Republic establishment and during the violent confrontation of security forces with widespread street protests, a number of reports were published indicating support for the opposition within the army and the security forces.
Major General Ataollah Salehi also referred to the “sensitive Friday Mass Prayers of last year when people began anti-regime chants.” He added: “During that Friday Mass, seditious forces took over the scene or when they chanted ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ from above the roofs. The hearts of our children would tremble at home wondering how they can arrest people who are chanting ‘Allah-o Akbar.’”
Chanting Allah-O-Akbar (God is great!) has been a major form of protest for Iranians since the days of the 1979 Revolution.
The “sensitive Friday Mass” Major General Slaehi refers to appears to be the one led by Ayatollah Kahmenei in June of 2009 in which Iran’s Supreme Leader threw his whole support behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disregarding widespread allegations of fraud in the elections.
Support for the opposition has also been reported in the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards as well as the Martyrs Foundation, two Islamic Republic institutions which have been considered as pillars of the system.
It appears that Iranian authorities have refrained from arresting MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi despite repeated references to them as “leaders of sedition” due to this widespread support. While prominent reformist figures and protesters have been arrested and incarcerated accused of endangering national security, supporters of the opposition in more sensitive institutions such as the Revolutionary Guards or the army and the police have been targeted with softer means of persuasion.