By Safa Haeri, IPS Editor


PARIS 16TH Apr. (IPS) The Islamic Revolution Guardians Corps (IRGC or Pasdaran) menaced Sunday President Mohammad Khatami and all his "small and big" reformist followers of a "thunder-like coup" in case they do not stop "at once and for good plotting against the Islamic revolution and it's achievements".

"When the time arrives, and with a nod by our beloved leader and guide, (Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i), all enemies of the Islamic revolution, from very the big to the very small ones, would hear the sound of the sledgehammer inside their skull is such a way that they would be stopped for ever plotting and betraying" the IRGC warned in statement that was broadcast in full by Tehran Radio.

Iranian political analyst and observers immediately interpreted the unprecedented declaration to a "rampant military coup" aimed at annulling the recently held Majles (parliament) elections that was swept by the reformists.

Though this is not the first time that the Guards, in total violation of the Constitution and ignoring previous orders from Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who had forbid them from interfering in political matters, takes side for the conservatives and particularly Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, who is also their Supreme Commander, but this is the first time that they openly and publicly raise the menace of a military take over.

In a speech made before the elections, Rev. Guards General Yahya Rahim-Safavi had warned that the "liberals" are about to "mount a smooth Parliamentary coup".

"Now that the liberals have swept the great majority of the next 290-seat Majles, it seems that the Pasdaran are about to counter that smooth coup with a counter-coup of their own', observed one prominent political analyst.

In recent days, Tehran was ripe with rumours of a military coup against President Khatami, a move that would start with the assassination of Mr. Sa'id Hajjarian, the Publisher of the outspoken "Sobhe Emrouz" daily, a close friend and adviser to the President and the "architect" of the landslide victory of the reformists in the recent Legislative elections.

Shot in the head at close range by a terrorist 35 days ago in front of the reformists-controlled Tehran City Council, Mr. Hajjarian survived the murder and is in hospital since.

Investigations carried by the independent press revealed that the terror team belong to the Pasdarans Intelligence section led by Revolutionary Guard General Mohammad Reza Zolqadr while the conservatives say the killers are from the reformists and consequently, arrested Friday Mr. Ahmad Hakimipour, an associate of Mr. Hajjarian at the City Council they suspect of collaboration with the murderers.

Noting that the State-run Radio and Television are under the direct control of Mr. Khameneh'i, observers also reached the obvious conclusion that the astonishing statement must have his blessing to be broadcast by the public media.

Addressing the reformists it describes as "atheists fighting God, beaten by the Revolution, repentant revolutionaries, enemies and malevolent", the statement assures them that in case they do not pay attention to the Guards ultimatum, "all of them and without any exception would be finished overnight and with a speed no one could ever imagine, applying on them the law of violence".

The declaration observes that not only all most sacred and serious principles of the Islamic revolution are being satirised and ridiculed by the reformist journalists and intellectuals, but they also dares to go as far as saying that imam Khomeini would join the history's museum, a clear reference to the title of a Berlin newspaper that had carried last week an interview with the leading investigative journalist and scholar Akbar Ganji.

"All these points to a treacherous effort supported by America, aimed at ending the revolution, finishing Islam and isolating true revolutionaries and fighters, killing the pasdaran and the basiji", the communiqué goes on, accusing the reformist press that it describes as "polluted".

"This is the strongest ever statement issued by the Guards against the reform movement that is supported by the President", observed one Tehran analyst who asked for anonymity.

Observers noted that the warning was issued one day after Ashoura, a date that marks the beheading of Hossein, the third and most venerated imam of the Shi'a Muslims in the year 62 AD, a period when religious fervours are very high in Iran in the one hand and two days after a violent speech by Ayatollah Khameneh'i in which he had stressed on the "necessity" of applying "legal violence" against enemies and criticised what he termed as "American reforms" on the other.

The threat culminates an all out and well orchestrated offensive against the moderates mounted by the conservatives, led jointly by Mr. Khameneh'i and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani have mounted, they pointed out.

Day after day in the past three weeks, the hard liners have abolished the election results in several constituencies where reformists had won, the last one being that of Naqadeh and Oshnavyeh in the Iranian Kurdistan where a Sunni Muslim close to the reformists was elected, forbid the next Majles from investigating all organisations and administrations that are under the direct control of the leader, meaning Radio and Television, Revolutionary Guards, the Judiciary, the controversial Clergymen's Special Tribunal, or the sprawling and corruption-riddled Deprived Foundation, debating the much criticised bill aimed at curtailing the already limited press freedom etc.

"This is a U turn back to the darkest period of Khomeinism, Iranian Stalinism. It's the time of Securitate-type operation. Now one has to see how it turns out and who will be the loser, as one side has openly declared war on the other camp", commented one experienced journalist, speculating that it is "quite possible" that Mr. Khameneh'i was himself menaced, forced to chose side, give the green light to the conservatives hawks or to face the consequences in case the Guards takes over.

The unequivocal declaration has placed president Khatami in a very delicate and difficult situation, as reformists, but most particularly the young and restless ones are pinning their hope on him, waiting for him to come to their rescue. One wrong move and the Pasdaran could go into operation, declare a state of emergency, striking thunder-like at the moderates, without exception, as they have promised, that means including himself.

The difficulty for Khatami is that having won the elections, he is expected to take bold action and in a quid pro quo, tell the conservatives without any ambiguity to either accept the rules of the game and bow to the verdict of the polls or he would call on the people to stand up and defend both the nation and the reforms. The answer will come in a matter of days. ENDS PASDARAN COUP 16400