Mohsen Rezaei has resigned his position as Secretary of the Expediency Council of Iran after more than 20 years to take on the role as president Ebrahim Raisi’s economic deputy.
At the same time, Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr has been introduced as the new Secretary of the Expediency Council by Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the Council’s chairman.
Zolghadr was born in 1954 in Fasa, Shiraz, and was chosen by supreme leader Ali Khamenei to become the new Secretary of the Expediency Council. Many of his family members also hold roles within the Iranian government. His wife, Sedigheh Begum Hejazi is the Director-General of the Office of Women and Family Affairs at the Organization of Islamic Culture and Communication, while his son-in-law, Kazem Gharibabadi is the permanent representative of the clerical regime in the UN office in Vienna and the representative of Iran in the International Energy Agency.
Before the 1979 revolution in Iran, Zolghadr was a member of the Mansourun group, at which time he and Rezaei were involved in the assassinations of an American engineer and a manager of an oil company.
According to UN Security Council Resolution 1747, Zolghadr is on the sanctions list for his involvement in the regime’s nuclear and missile programs.
During the Iran-Iraq war, Brigadier General Zolghadr became one of the top commanders. During this period, he co-founded and commanded the Ramazan Garrison, a group whose activities later formed the basis of the IRGC’s foreign branch, the Quds Force. Zolghadr helped to establish a camp in 1983 which focused on terrorist activities outside of Iran and was used to train the regime’s proxy groups from Iraq.
After the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Zolghadr was appointed as the head of the IRGC’s joint headquarters due to Mohsen Rezaei’s support.
By 1997, Zolghadr had become the deputy commander of the IRGC. When then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power, Zolghadr was appointed as the Deputy Interior Minister for Security and Law Enforcement. This new role meant that he was now in charge of the National Security Council’s administration, which was tasked with coordinating the suppression of protests across Iran. It also meant that he would oversee the performance of all governors and deputy security and law enforcement officials up and down the country.
Although Bagher Zolghadr was expected to serve in the Interior Ministry for a long time due to the IRGC’s support for him, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s personal dissatisfaction with the appointment led to Zolghadr being ousted after two years.
Following his termination from the Interior Ministry position, Zolghadr was appointed to the role of advisor to the head of the judiciary, before later acting as the deputy for strategy and social protection and crime prevention. His appointment to the judiciary during Sadegh Larijani’s presidency indicated that the IRGC and Khamenei were still supporting him.
As the scale of protests in Iran increases, the Iranian regime is becoming under threat. As seen in their history, the likelihood is that they will mount repressive responses to keep these protests under control. The recent appointments to president Ebrahim Raisi’s new administration make this outcome even more likely, given their own personal histories of repression and violence.
As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian opposition’s president said, Raisi’s cabinet is ‘the embodiment of four decades of the religious and terrorist dictatorship of the mullahs, whose mission is to counter popular uprisings, plunder national wealth and resources, step up terrorism and warmongering, and expand the unpatriotic nuclear and missiles projects’.