Marjan Al-Agha from the Stability Front to Violent Overthrow
Marjan Al-Agha, according to Iran Gate’s report, is an example of inefficiency and corruption in opaque systems, specifically kleptocratic systems, which can turn a simple journalist into a highly influential figure capable of creating a petrochemical product broker, whose traces can be seen in the largest embezzlement case in Iran’s history. Marjan Al-Agha is the best example of how corruption spreads within the Islamic Republic system.
Marjan Al-Agha is mostly known to the public as an economic corruptor and a major embezzler, but few are aware of his long history of political maneuvering and extensive collaborations with both right-wing and left-wing political factions in Iran. He made great efforts to secure a position within the ruling body of the Islamic Republic, but never succeeded in finding such a position. Ultimately, in 1396 (2017-2018), he permanently left the country, first heading to Turkey and then Canada.
The individual who comes from a religious family has had controversial marriages that have made his case more scandalous and complicated. But who is Marjan Al-Agha and which one of the conservative or reformist political currents has he been closer to?
Everything started from solidarity.
As it has been mentioned multiple times, Marjan Al-Agha was a simple and editorial journalist at the beginning of the 1980s. He considers his collaboration with the Hamshahri newspaper, which was close to moderate reformist movements, as an important platform for his growth. The connections he established with reformist and conservative political figures during this period played a significant role in smoothing his path to becoming an economic and political corrupter.
However, a look at the articles published by Mrs. Al-Agha in this newspaper shows that she does not represent any particular political inclination. This is despite the fact that in the early 1980s and late 1970s, the media were completely political. However, despite her occasional collaboration with Hamayesh newspaper, where she worked in the field of cultural heritage, she has produced reports that are devoid of any political bias. In other words, her writing in the reformist newspaper does not necessarily mean her alignment and support for the reformist positions.
Ahmadinejad and the emergence of new corrupt individuals
As mentioned, Al-Agha was successful in establishing extensive connections with government officials and parliamentary representatives. With her opportunistic and profit-seeking personality, she could gain special positions in the field of cultural heritage expertise. Although it is not officially listed on her resume, some evidence obtained by Iran Gate indicates Marjan Al-Agha’s activities as a public relations officer for certain governing institutions in the field of cultural heritage and handicrafts.
But with the arrival of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, Marjan Sheikh al-Islami, a member of the religious and clerical family of Agha, also shone surprisingly, as it was mentioned that the Agha family had played an important role in establishing effective and close relationships with influential figures in the ninth and tenth governments.
He succeeded in being appointed as the editor-in-chief of the government news agency of Cultural Heritage during a period when Hamid Baghaei was the head of the organization. It was during this period that reports were published about the illegal export of a large number of historical artifacts from the country and the role of Hamid Baghaei in this case. However, the Cultural Heritage news agency stood firmly behind Deputy Ahmadinejad, and some believe that Marjan Agha’s footprint can also be seen in this case. But due to the cover-ups carried out by the Ahmadinejad government, this case has remained unresolved so far.
The controversial positions that the Cultural Heritage News Agency adopted during the management of the Al-Agha collection had caused a stir in those days. Among these positions, one can mention the extremist tendencies of Pan-Shiism and the promotion of a distorted version of Iranism. This period was the first time that Al-Agha officially and explicitly revealed his political stance and his close proximity to the deviant current that emerged from within the fundamentalists. In other words, he had an undeniable closeness to the front of stability and extremist currents within the Revolutionary Guards and the Islamic Republic system.
From Marjan to Leila
Perhaps it is desirable to mention the role and connection of Leila with Marjan to better understand her role. In fact, Mrs. Zand was the dual-nationality version of Marjan Al-Agha, who not only had an influence economically but also had a hand in corrupt political activities. Leila Zand was an Iranian-American citizen known as a human rights activist and had very close connections with Marjan. However, after the blow of the deviant current on the forehead of the Marjan circle and the supporters of Ahmadinejad, Leila Zand also permanently left Iran for the United States until today.
Hassan Rouhani pulled the trigger.
After the arrival of Hassan Rouhani’s government in the summer of 2013, Al Agha steps down from the management of state media. However, his strong presence in circumventing the oil and banking sanctions, which had roots in his close relationship with Ahmadinejad, leads him to continue his activities in this field. But this situation does not last long, and with the start of the Rouhani government’s extensive crackdown on economic corrupt elements, including Babak Zanjani, Marjan Al Agha also significantly limits the economic activities of his companies in Turkey, Iran, and China.
A cover-up marriage
With the exposure of numerous economic corruption cases, many individuals involved in these cases permanently leave the country. Marjan Al Agha is also one of these individuals who leaves Iran for Turkey shortly before the official recognition of the Sepanir Iran company case. After spending a short period in Turkey, he goes to Canada and obtains Canadian citizenship. During this time, he gets married for the second time and once again becomes the headline of domestic and foreign media.
After permanently leaving the country, Ms. Al Agha marries Mehdi Khalaji, one of the well-known faces of the opposition to the Islamic Republic and a staunch regime opponent. Al Agha, whose name is now seen in both domestic and international media, appears in front of the cameras with a complete change in appearance, putting aside the 180-degree turn in her hijab and presenting a completely different image from what was seen of her in Iran.
In fact, Al Agha not only changes her color once again, but also shifts overnight from being a super trendy figure in the extreme fundamentalist movement to joining the ranks of the radical overthrowers of the Islamic Republic and secular political activists. The new appearance of Ms. Al Agha also intensified the controversy surrounding these transformations and changes in her positions, causing her to explode like a bomb in both domestic and international media.
This connection is another sign of the frequent and unpredictable color changes of Marjan Al Agha, reminding the audience that these extremist figures of the steadfast front can easily put aside even the hijab and play the role of a Western-style media star as regime overthrowers. The corruption and even political misconduct cases of Marjan Al Agha are reminiscent of those very figures who today interpret the fight against unveiled women and have made their anti-corruption claims deafening to the ears of the world.
Marjan Al-Agha and the biggest embezzlement in history
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