As the Iranian Presidential elections draw close, we thought that it would be worth looking at the front runners in the race and layout who they are and how they got here. Today is the turn of Hossein Dehghan.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, who currently serves as the Defense Industries military adviser for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has served the regime in many different positions since 1979 and has conducted both domestic repression and international terrorism.

His roles, in chronological order, are:

  • 1979: Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) agent
  • 1980: IRGC commander in Tehran, where he suppressed and killed many political activists, mostly Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) supporters
  • 1982: IRGC commander in Isfahan, Syria, and Lebanon. In Lebanon, he helped establish the terrorist Hezbollah group, which he modelled after the IRGC, and then commanded the 1983 bombing of the US Marine Corps base
  • 1986: Deputy Commander of the IRGC Air Force
  • 1992: Deputy Chief of the IRGC Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • 1997: Deputy Minister of Defense under Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani and President Mohammad Khatami
  • 2003: Acting Minister of Defense
  • 2005: Vice President and the Head of the Martyrs and Veterans Affairs Foundation
  • 2013: Minister of Defense and Logistics of the Armed Forces
  • 2017: Khamenei’s advisor for Defense Industries

In 2019, Dehghan, then 62, and nine other confidants of Khamenei were sanctioned by the United States’ Treasury Department.

The Treasury said: “[Dehghan] was appointed by Ali Khamenei as his military aide for the Defense Industries and Armed Forces Logistics. Hossein Dehghan was the commander of IRGC forces in Lebanon and Syria in 1983 when the bombing of a Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon, killed 241 US service members. Iran’s proxy militia, Hezbollah, carried out the attack at the direction of the Iranian regime.”

Democracy in name only

An important reminder that the June elections are not a sign of democracy because the position of President is only open to Muslim men who are dedicated to preserving absolute clerical rule and the “Islamic Republic”, according to the Constitution and Election Law.

The 12-member Guardian Council will disqualify any candidate who does not meet these criteria, thereby preventing any real change from occurring, but they will also weed out candidates who meet the requirements but who Khamenei does not like, mainly those in the “Reformist” camp.

While there are no real differences between the reformists and Khamenei’s hardliners, the Supreme Leader wants to consolidate power, but the Guardian Council will obey because they are all appointed directly or indirectly by Khamenei.