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Internal Strife Heightens Among Iranian Senior Leaders, State Media Reports

 iran raisi khamenei ghalibaf ejei rouhani (1)

Amidst the media uproar surrounding a fresh financial scandal totaling 3.7 billion dollars, implicating government officials, discord among the top echelons of the Iranian regime has reached new heights. Despite efforts by Ebrahim Raisi’s government to present itself as the whistleblower in the Debsh Tea Company corruption case, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the Judiciary’s head, has publicly contradicted the administration’s assertions.

In a meeting with students on December 7, Ejei declared, “The government claims to have dismissed 60 individuals implicated in the Debsh Tea case, but as of today, no managers have been referred to the Judiciary!”

Mohammad Mohajeri, a member of the editorial board of KhabarOnline, wrote, “The Minister of Economy, whose incompetence is widely known, has exposed the government’s role in the 3.4 billion dollar tea corruption with his irresponsible statements. By stating that this is not a new issue and that there is a media hoax around it, he tried to divert attention by blaming the media, but he was not successful.”

Mohajeri continued, “Now, with the statements of the head of the Judiciary, it has become clear that more than 90% of this corruption has occurred during the Raisi government. But more importantly, this government claims to have discovered and dealt with it! Not only was it incapable of such, but evidence and indications show that the government has been trying to conceal this major corruption.”

Following the public disclosure of these allegations, associates of Ebrahim Raisi are attributing responsibility to the previous government. Simultaneously, supporters of Hassan Rouhani are launching a counterattack, questioning why, if the corruption occurred during Rouhani’s tenure, Raisi, then Chief Justice, did not take action.

On December 5, the state-run website Ensaf News stated, “Citing recent accusations made by the propaganda apparatus of the thirteenth government, a source close to the Rouhani administration, said, ‘Blaming the previous administration for any shortcomings or corruption with distorted facts is an unsubstantiated tactic that the public no longer buys. While the initial report from the National Inspectorate Organization is clear, the revelation of a major violation and the judicial system’s intent to privately review corruption cases necessitate public disclosure to answer lingering questions. If this corruption began in 2019, why did the then-head of the National Inspectorate Organization, now the Special Assistant to the President, and the current Head of the Judiciary, now the President, fail to report it to relevant authorities and make it public at that time?'”

Conversely, several other media outlets are disseminating content suggesting that the discord between the head of the judiciary and the executive branch in the Iranian regime has roots that run even deeper.

On December 4, the state-run Ruydad 24 explored the enduring feud between these two senior officials in an extensive article titled “What is the disagreement between Raisi and Ejei?”

The article delved into the longstanding tensions between Raisi and Ejei dating back to 2014. According to this source, the disagreements were substantial enough that when Raisi assumed the presidency of the Judiciary in 2018, he made an unsuccessful attempt to remove Ejei from the position of First Deputy.

Addressing one of these disputes, the article underscored the efforts by officials in Raisi’s government to shift blame onto Rouhani’s administration for their own detrimental policies. Ruydad 24 further noted, “One of the initial signs of discord was Ejei’s criticism of Raisi’s government during the Information Protection Conference, where he indirectly targeted Raisi and his administration, stating, ‘Regrettably, if we remove the term ‘previous government’ from the vocabulary of some of these gentlemen today, they have nothing more to say.'”

The source further asserted that the intense disagreements among the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches have contributed to the delay and non-approval of the so-called “Hijab and Chastity Bill.”

The article then highlighted the current phase of the dispute between these branches, stating, “Following the exposure of the ‘billion-dollar corruption’ in tea imports by the Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi’s government asserted that the discovery has nothing to do with the Judiciary, emphasizing that the government itself uncovered the corruption! On Monday, December 3, the President’s Special Inspector declared, ‘In the tea case, the government not only detected corruption but also ousted relevant officials up to the highest level and handed the case over to the judicial system for adjudication.’ The intrigue deepened when the Judiciary stated that the implicated company engaged in financial misconduct between 2019 and 2021, covering at least two years during Raisi’s government. However, the President’s Special Inspector claims ‘the roots of corruption and misconduct in the currency exchange of the company involved in tea imports go back to the year 2019.'”

Meanwhile, another state-run media outlet highlights the growing discord between the Speaker of the Parliament and the regime’s President Ebrahim Raisi.

On December 6, Etemad Online reported, “Within the parliamentary session yesterday, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Ebrahim Raisi, emphasized unity and cooperation between the legislative and executive branches, refuting any existing differences. Nevertheless, the conflict between media outlets backing the two leaders has recently heightened.”

This source went on to quote an editorial of the Sobh-e-No newspaper, aligned with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, as writing, “Certain factions aim to disrupt the unity and solidarity among the leaders of the branches of power. Given the current state of the country and the determination of the three branches to collaborate, it is crucial to thwart the self-will of the so-called super-revolutionaries and confront those who, driven by partisan sentiments and electoral interests, seek to sow discord among the three branches of power and incite sedition among the system’s officials.”

Etemad Online continued, “Super-revolutionary is the term used by people close to Ghalibaf to describe the supporters of the government. Recently, in its coverage of the heads of the branches of power attending universities on Student Day, Rajanews, a website affiliated with the government, consistently highlighted Raisi’s presence and criticized Ghalibaf. This led to a heated exchange, with Ghalibaf responding by stating he could not be held accountable for the weak management of the parliament. He also mocked Mohseni Ejei, suggesting that if he visits the University of Ardebil this year, it would be the first time he attends a university without turning it into a judicial building. This exchange escalated into a verbal confrontation between the Judiciary’s news agency Mizan and Rajanews. Additionally, the head of the parliamentary news department criticized Rajanews. As one of the staunch supporters of Ebrahim Raisi’s government, Rajanews consistently attacks Ghalibaf and his associates on various pretexts.”

All these conflicts, disseminated through various state-run media outlets, unfold at a time when all three heads of branches of power within the regime assert that their top priority is to address and resolve the people’s problems. However, a closer examination of their four decades of performance and their factions’ agendas as part of the ruling establishment reveals that their primary concern is not the people’s problems but the public’s rage against individuals who have contributed to their poverty, massacres, and indifference for the last 44 years.