World, Middle East

Army general's censure of IRGC raises eyebrows in Iran

Sayyari said Iran's army was not getting the acknowledgement it deserves

Syed Zafar Mehdi   | 02.06.2020
Army general's censure of IRGC raises eyebrows in Iran

TEHRAN

A senior military commander has raised eyebrows in Iran after criticizing the influential Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Speaking in an interview with state-run television IRIB, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Iran's army was not getting the acknowledgement it deserves, with all efforts being put in promoting the IRGC.

Shortly after being published by Iran's official IRNA news agency, the interview was immediately taken down.

Sayyari said the Iranian army doesn't believe in "publicizing everything it does" as this would risk the country's national security.

"We are not a refrigerator company,” he said, with a hint of sarcasm.

"It is not required to tell the people, 'Look at me Sayyari, look how hard I work, look what I made, look how I go under the water'," he said, indirectly criticizing the IRGC's publicity wing.

The military commander also came down heavily on Iran's entertainment industry for projecting the army as lesser than the IRGC.

He cited a 2014 war drama on the life of Mustafa Chamran, Iran's first defense minister after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Sayyari said Chamran had been unfairly shown as a clumsy man in the movie. "I cried from the beginning to the end (of the movie)," he said.

At odds

The army general also criticized the state-owned television IRIB for not giving a proper coverage to the activities of the Iranian army.

He said he had filed an objection to a recently telecasted program by IRGC, which downplayed the army's role in protecting Iran's territorial waters.

"But nobody replied," he said, suggesting that there is "something going on behind the scenes (at IRIB)."

Sayyari, a veteran army commander, joined the military service in 1974, five years before the Iranian revolution. He later fought in the 8-year war against Iraq (1980-88).

He served as the chief of the Iranian Navy for over a decade before being appointed the deputy coordinator for Iran’s army in 2017 on the decree of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Albeit both are required to maintain close coordination with each other, Iran’s army and IRGC have been at odds on numerous occasions owing to different power centers and constituencies.

While the army is essentially designated to secure and protect the country’s internal security and borders, the IRGC are seen as the protectors of the "ideals of the Islamic revolution", experts say.

Exerting tremendous influence in Iran and at times dictating foreign policy too, the IRGC are considered close to conservatives and hardliners, who are back in the reckoning following their landslide victory in the Feb. 21 parliamentary elections.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the new parliament on Sunday, Speaker Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf said the new assembly is committed to "continue on the path of Qasem Soleimani in increasing the power of the Axis of Resistance".

Soleimani, a top IRGC commander, was killed early January in a US drone airstrike in Iraq.

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