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The sacking of Saeed Mohammad as secretary of Iran’s Free Zones High Council has emphasized the division within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The dismissal of the former senior IRGC commander by President Ebrahim Raisi on Oct. 11 followed his disqualification from the 2021 presidential race as a conservative candidate due to internal IRGC opposition. Mohammad’s bid for the presidency had been barred by the Guardian Council, which is tasked with vetting hopefuls, after Parliament Speaker—and former IRGC air force commander (1997-2000)—Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf moved against him.
Mohammad was a rising political figure. While comparatively young, he had already headed an important IRGC department. In usual circumstances, his sacking by Raisi would have been a major event in Iranian politics. However, the country has been preoccupied with an ongoing nationwide revolt following the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Jina Amini, a young woman, in the custody of morality police.
His eviction in June 2021 from that year’s presidential race, along with other conservative as well as Reformist candidates, ensured an easy victory for Raisi. Mohammad’s thwarted presidential campaign had itself already symbolized IRGC infighting. He was also a controversial candidate because of remarks he made on the campaign trail—bashing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as...
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