IRGC-linked news agencies have reported that the Guards' counter-intelligence chief Mohammad Kazemi has replaced Hossein Taeb as the IRGC's intelligence chief.
Tasnim quoted IRGC's Public Relations spokesman Ramazan Sharif as saying that IRGC Commander Hossein Salami has appointed Kazemi as the IRGC's new intelligence chief on Thursday, June 23.
IRGC social media outlets Wednesday night ended nearly two days of rumors about the "dismissal" of Taeb, announcing that he has been removed from his post, but he will be appointed to a higher position.
Sharif told Tasnim that Hossein Taeb has been appointed as an "adviser" to the IRGC commander, a clear sign that the former intelligence chief has been demoted. Meanwhile, the fact that Taeb's removal and Kazemi's appointment is announced by a low-key IRGC officer rather than Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who directly oversees the IRGC Intelligence is another indication that Taeb has been dismissed from his job.
Tasnim placed the news about Taeb under its top story which is about Lavrov's visit in an elaborate attempt to downplay the development. The report's headline is also about Kazemi's appointment rather than Taeb's removal.
In recent weeks there were multiple mysterious incidents in which IRGC officers and operatives were killed or died in unexplained circumstances. Iran blamed Israel for some of the incidents.
According to Sharif, Kazermi has been the IRGC Intelligence Organization's counter-intelligence chief for many years and is highly experienced in intelligence and security matters. Kazemi is a brigadier general while Taeb was a cleric with some military experience that dated back to the 1980s war with Iraq.
According to political analyst Morteza Kazemian, Taeb, one of the most feared men in Iran's security system, was the second strongest man in the country's intelligence system only after Khamenei. Kazemian added that Taeb maintained good relations with Khamenei's son Mojtaba, a former comrade during the war.
Meanwhile, Kazemian suggested that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visiting Tehran on Thursday, possibly carried a message that revealed flaws in Taeb's performance. In a press conference in Tehran Lavrov Thuesday did refer to an "intelligence protection agreement|" with Tehran, wihtout elaboration.
Taeb was recently harshly criticized by social media activists and some politicians for failing to detect and prevent Israel's destructive operations in Iran.
Social media activists also said that the change on top of the IRGC Intelligence Organization revealed a divide in the organization that was already noticed after several leaks. On the other hand, the fact that an Israeli news outlet, Kaan News reported Taeb's removal from his post several days before its confirmation by Iranian officials, was another indication that Israel had access to insider information from the IRGC Intelligence Organization.
Furthermore, the choice of the new chief from the counter-intelligence unit, points out the fact that the reason for the change was something happening within the organization where Kazemi was in a better position to detect the leaks.
Social media activist and war veteran Hadi Mehrani said in a tweet that the change will have major repercussions and significant events are likely to take place in Iran.
The spokesman for Iran's Reform Front, Ali Shakouri Rad also said in a tweet on the same date that: Taeb's removal is a very important development which requires to be elaborated as the organization has a major role in elections and the running of the affairs of the state in Iran."