The chief of the Revolutionary Guard angrily slapped Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in early 2010, as Tehran was still dealing with the fallout from last year’s election, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The cable, written in February, said Revolutionary Guard Chief of Staff Mohammed Ali Jafari blamed Ahmadinejad for the post-election “mess” in 2009, which saw the country roundly criticized by the West amid allegations of fraud and tough crackdowns on large-scale protests in Tehran.
The guard was founded after the Islamic revolution in 1979 to prevent dissident activity and is a strong internal force within the country, with economic and military wings.
Jafari is seen as close to the most conservative Iranian elements, but Ahmedinejad himself is also deemed a stalwart hawk.
The cable, titled “He who got slapped,” quotes an Iran watcher in Baku, Azerbaijan, who related that Ahmedinejad felt that in the aftermath of the post-election street protests, which turned violent, “people feel suffocated.”
In a meeting with his national security council, the president “mused that to defuse the situation it may be necessary to allow more personal and social freedoms, including more freedom of the press,” according to the source.
This provoked an angry retort from Jafari, according to the cable:
“You are wrong! (In fact) it is YOU who created this mess! And now you say give more freedom to the press?!”
The top guard then slapped the president in the face “causing an uproar and an immediate call for a break in the meeting” which did not resume for another two weeks, the cable said.
It took the intervention of Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, a senior member of the top oversight body, the Guardian Council, to get Jafari and Ahmedinejad back to the table, according to the cable.
For that honesty, Iran has allegedly now blocked sites discussing the cable.