Who’s Who in Iranian Politics
Mohsen Rezaei was born on August 30th, 1955, to a religious family in Masjid Suleiman. He is currently the Secretary of the Expediency Council. He was formerly the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps of the Islamic Revolution, and a presidential candidate in Iran’s 10th presidential election.
Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Rezaei was among the founders of the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization, and later entered the Revolutionary Guards Corps. He was the commander of this corps for 16 years; from 1981 to 1997. He spent his childhood and teenage years in the oil-rich city of Masjid Suleiman, and began his political activities while he was studying in the technical school. Later, while he was preparing himself to participate in the university entrance exam, he was arrested and interrogated by SAVAK in Ahwaz, for political activities. In 1978, when he was 17 years old, after five months of solitary confinement and one month of imprisonment in the general prison population of Ahwaz, he began a new round of political activities—while completing his studies in the technical school of Iran’s National Oil Company, he was able to expand the establishment of his group. This move led to the formation of a harmonious partisan and guerilla group, which was later called the “Mansooroon Society”. Other members of this group were Gholamhossein Sefati Dezfuli, Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr and Ali Shamkhani.
In 1974, he came to Tehran after being admitted to the mechanical engineering department of the University of Science and Industry, and he resided in Narmak district. In 1978, when Morteza Motahhari suggested that the seven armed Muslim groups merge to protect the Islamic Revolution, he became a member of the central council of the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization (as the representative of the Mansooroon group). His membership in this organization lasted only three months, and his separation is said to have been due to the demand of the leader of the revolution based on the separation of the military and political forces, or due to the differences of opinion among the members of this organization. This is why in June 1979, and with the support of Ayatollah Khomeini, he founded the intelligence and political studies unit in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and became a member of its commanding council. In September 1981, he was appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini as the commander of the Revolutionary Guards—a position he also held during the eight years of the Sacred Defense (Iran-Iraq War). Later, on the order of Imam Khomeini, he equipped the corps with the three sectors of the ground forces, the navy and the air force, and organized it within the framework of five forces. He also established the two Imam Hossein and Baghiyatollah universities. Rezaei then founded Khatam-ul-Anbia Construction Headquarters with the help of the engineering units of the Revolutionary Guards to assist the government in executing the huge construction plans of the country.
During Ayatollah Hashemi’s presidency, this company constructed several governmental projects. He personally commanded this unit. Mohsen Rezaei does not now theoretically support this concept: “I do not believe that the military institutions should form private foundations for economic objectives or enter economic activities, for when the government is the beneficiary of a project, it can no longer enforce its supervision responsibility with regard to the issues, and the people will be damaged,” he has said.
Rezaei had left his university studies unfinished in 1974, but after the establishment of peace (after the end of the Iran-Iraq War), he changed his major from mechanical engineering to economics and received his B.S. degree from the University of Tehran. During his master’s studies in economics, he concentrated on banking and financial policies. He later received his PhD in economics, and conducted research in this field; among his research activities are “The Future Iran in the Perspective Horizon “, “Economic Federalism “, “Regional Iran”, and “ Theory of Money, Credit, and General Balance”. In September 1998, after resigning from his post as commander of the Revolutionary Guards, he was appointed by the Supreme Leader as Secretary of the Expediency Council. In that capacity, he performed the basic studies to prepare Iran’s Twenty-Year Perspective Document. He was also in charge of the macro-economics committee of the Council. He has accepted the responsibility of the expert committees of the twenty-year perspective document, the general policies of the system and attracting foreign investment, and the general policies of Article 44 of the Constitution to use his management and economic experiences and outlooks for long-term policies in various fields.
Mohsen Rezaei was among the people who were accused of masterminding the planting of bombs in the Argentinean Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, and was put on Interpol’s wanted list. The government of Argentina has, hitherto, three times accused the Islamic Republic of Iran of being responsible for these explosions; a claim which the Islamic Republic has called baseless with no legal evidence. In February 2012, his name was taken off the Interpol list. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the Argentinean President, reported on January 26 of 2013 that her country has made an agreement with Iran with regard to the formation of an independent committee to investigate the 1994 explosions in the Jewish Center.
In 1999, Mohsen Rezaei became a candidate for the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament) on the list of the “Coalition of the Imam and the leader” (known as the right wing), but did not receive enough votes. He also became a presidential candidate in 2005 with the campaign slogan of “the government of love”, but stepped aside two days before the election. In a statement, he mentioned that the reason behind his stepping aside was “to prevent the dispersion of people’s votes” due to the number of candidates.
But according to some, he lost his political chances by leaving the Revolutionary Guards. He has recently stated, “I miss the Revolutionary Guards.” Rezaei was also one of the presidential candidates in 2009. He was the only independent candidate who proposed the idea of a coalition government, and he gained the third most votes among the 4 candidates. Mohsen Rezaei initially protested against the results of the election, but later withdrew his protest.
He and his wife, Masoumeh Khadang, have four children. His eldest son sought asylum in the US during the first term of Seyyed Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, and created a scandal by giving interviews. A few years later, and on the verge of the tenth presidential election, Mohsen Rezaei stated that his son had returned to Iran, but on November 13th, 2011, Ahmad Rezaei suspiciously died in Dubai’s Gloria Hotel. His death was called suspicious in the statement made by the Expediency Council. The cause of his death has been stated differently by various sources, ranging from murder to suicide with anti-depression pills. The report of the special investigator in Tehran indicates that he was murdered. His brother, Omidvar Rezaei, has been a representative of Masjid Suleiman, Lali and Haftkal during the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th terms of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and has been appointed by Ali Larijani as the deputy for the laws of the parliament.
In the media, Rezaei established Azar weekly and the Tabnak website. The House of Students and the Resistance Front have also been formed by those close to him.
Like his economic views, Rezaei has his own special outlook with regard to foreign policy and relations with the US: “Relations between Iran and the US have become very complicated due to the sanctions that have been imposed against Iran. The conditions were better before the sanctions, but today the gap is very wide. If negotiations with the US begin but are defeated, there will undoubtedly be a military attack against Iran. It must be noted that a lack of relations is somehow a deterrent. Before negotiating with the US, we must reach positive results with the P5+1; for this group is a good channel for negotiation with the superpowers. The best method of defending the people of Palestine is to support the government of Syria under the present conditions,” he has said.
On March 5th, 2012, while addressing the people of Divandarreh in Kurdistan Province, Rezaei officially announced his candidacy for the 2013 presidential election. The speaker of his presidential campaign has stated that his campaign slogan is the “government of inclusion and society of hope”. Mohsen Rezaei has stated, “In order to fight against the sanctions and remove them, Iran must speed up its economic growth. The continuation of sanctions for the next twenty years is not in Iran’s interests. Only 30% of the present problems are caused by the sanctions and the rest is due to the mismanagement of the government. The scene of war begins in the alleys, streets, farms, factories, universities, schools and families, and, as in the past, will not be limited to the borders.”
Some analysts say that Rezaei can establish a “prudent and efficient government” and help the country achieve security, defensive, cultural and economic power.