Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is continuing to sharply criticize the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF), Qasem Soleimani, for not testifying in favor of some of his associates, including former Vice President Hamid Baghaei, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence.
The former Iranian president has sent several open letters to Soleimani, who is one of the strongest and most respected people in Iran, and whose name and military triumphs are legendary in his country. In the most recent of these letters, Ahmadinejad complained that the IRGC-QF commander came to the aid of Mehdi Jahangiri, brother of former Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, and he managed to get him released after he was arrested on charges of involvement in an incident of corruption. Mehdi Jahangiri led the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and was also the head of the Tourist Bank.
Yet when charges of fraud were brought against “the loyal and pure” Baghaei, according to which he had received sums of money “from you [the Quds Force], a profound injustice was done to him.” Ahmadinejad continued, “If Baghaei was not given any money — and he certainly wasn’t — why have you and your colleagues been silent about this claim and injustice?”1
Furthermore, Soleimani also ignored repeated requests and appeals on his behalf.2
In the March 2018 letter, Ahmadinejad threatened to expose the details of a financial incident that created a dispute involving Baghaei and Soleimani. He wrote, “You are investing so much effort into an unjustified war in Syria and other places, so why are you silent when it comes to a bigger injustice occurring in your country?”3
Baghaei was convicted by a court of receiving the sum of €3.5 million from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, which is in charge of Iran’s subversive activities abroad. These funds were supposed to be shared between several countries in Africa, but Baghaei was convicted for having made inappropriate use of the money.
During the period of his presidency (2005-2013), Ahmadinejad received wide support from the leaders of the Islamic regime. However, since then, there has been considerable tension between him and a number of his associates and the political-clerical-military establishment in Iran. These associates include Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who was Ahmadinejad’s aide (Mashaei’s daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s oldest son.). Mashaei’s family has been accused of corruption and sentenced to various prison terms. Mashaei was sentenced in 2018 to six-and-a-half years in jail after being found guilty of a series of charges, including corruption, harming national security, and contempt of court. Even Ahmadinejad’s media adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr was sentenced to a year in jail on charges of “publishing materials contrary to Islamic norms.”4
On several occasions, Ahmadinejad criticized the head of the Iranian legal system Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani for the arrest of his associates and even called for his removal in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, head of the Islamic regime. The Guardian Council of the Constitution, which vets candidates for elections in Iran, rejected the candidacies of Ahmadinejad and Baghaei for the presidency in elections in 2017, which Hassan Rouhani ultimately won.
It is suggested that the politically hardline Ahmadinejad and his associates have fallen out of favor with the Supreme Leader and Iran’s uncompromising clerics for “disrespecting Islamic and moral principles.”
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