What Do Structural Changes in the Revolutionary Guards Mean?

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No. 7, September 2008

In 2007, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) changed command. Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari became the new commander in chief, only the seventh in the organization's history. He immediately implemented a major restructuring to move the IRGC's primary focus from external defense to internal security. The changes are more cosmetic than actual, but they do signal a renewed crackdown on reformism and civil society.

The old Washington adage that personnel are policy is as true in the Islamic Republic if Iran as in the United States. On September 1, 2007, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari--also known as Aziz Jafari and Ali Jafari--to be the seventh commander in chief of the IRGC (see table 1).[1] Two days later, he promoted him to major general.[2] Jafari immediately announced fundamental structural reform in the security apparatus of the Islamic Republic.

Jafari's career success has been intertwined with growing regime acceptance of his once controversial threat assessment. Jafari earned his stripes during the Iran-Iraq War, in which he was chief of the IRGC's Najaf base.[3] Against the backdrop of the grueling war, Iranian defense doctrine focused on countering external threats. Conscripts were the frontline grunts, and the IRGC became the elite, crack units. After the war, Jafari served as commander of IRGC Ground Force for more than a decade (1994-2005). He then became chief of the newly established IRGC Strategic Studies Center.[4] Under his supervision, the center began to conduct research into "velvet revolutions" and alleged U.S. "soft regime change policies."[5] He argued that the IRGC should focus on future internal threats to the Islamic Republic's stability, a push that led the IRGC to establish the Al-Zahra and 'Ashoura Brigades to serve as anti-riot forces within the organizational framework of the paramilitary Basij Resistance Force,[6] long the subordinate little brother of the IRGC.

Upon assuming the mantle of IRGC leadership, Jafari sought to implement the theories he had developed as head of the IRGC think tank. If the chief future threats were velvet revolutions and internal strife--perhaps supported by the hidden hands of outside powers--then the IRGC needed to readjust to meet the challenge. The structure that helped the Islamic Republic beat back Iraq needed reform.


Jafari's reorganization had two major components: merging the Basij into the IRGC and restructuring the IRGC itself to become less centralized and more focused on the provinces. Jafari justified merging the paramilitary Basij with the elite IRGC because both organizations shared the same goal of "guarding achievements of the Revolution."[7] On September 28, 2007, at the farewell ceremony for Basij chief Brigadier General Seyyed Mohammad Hejazi, Jafari explained that the IRGC was a "military-political-cultural organization sharing the same organizational goals as the Basij" and that "half of the Revolutionary Guards' mission is placed on the shoulders of the Basij."[8] Then, on October 25, 2007, Jafari assured Basij members that their organization would not be merged into the IRGC Ground Forces, but would remain as a distinct unit within the IRGC.[9]

While democracies fear external enemies, undemocratic regimes fear their own people. The paranoid dynamics of politics in the Islamic Republic make authorities look for--and find--internal enemies, saboteurs, and, more recently, "velvet revolutionaries."

The supreme leader endorsed Jafari's reorganization, an unsurprising move given that he does not generally appoint officials whose agenda he does not support. Indeed, when the supreme leader appointed Hejazi as deputy chief of the IRGC on May 22, 2008,[10] he demonstrated his full support for formally folding the Basij into the IRGC. After all, such an appointment involved displacing IRGC graybeards such as former IRGC chief and counterintelligence director Brigadier General Morteza Rezai.[11] Khamenei also preserved the special status of the Basij when, on July 13, 2008, he appointed Hojjat al-Eslam Hossein Ta'eb to be "IRGC Basij chief."[12]

This may suggest that there is less to security sector reform than meets the eye. Perhaps Jafari wishes to demonstrate his abilities as a strong man, and he initiated a process by which he is least likely to encounter resistance: incorporation of the Basij, an organization whose independence is more form than substance. The Basij and the IRGC both arose out of the chaos and upheaval that led to the Islamic Revolution. The leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, established the paramilitary Basij by a November 26, 1979, decree,[13] but the Basij was already a fact on the ground before Khomeini formalized its existence.

Initially, Khomeini supervised the Basij, but in August 1980, President Abol-Hassan Bani Sadr laid claim to the Basij in his capacity as commander in chief. The IRGC opposed Bani Sadr's claim, which they saw as a power grab,[14] and legally the control of the Basij remained disputed. After Bani Sadr fell from favor and fled into exile in June 1981, the Basij theoretically fell under Ministry of Interior control, but in reality, the IRGC never lost control from the very beginning of the Basij.

The March 19, 1980, issue of IRGC mouthpiece Payam-e Enghelab, a weekly newspaper, explained that the IRGC had formed the Basij as a specialized unit within its own organizational structure to "answer the call of the Leader of the Revolution Imam Khomeini to expand military training all over the country, especially among the youth." It was composed of "representatives of different units of the Guards."[15] The IRGC was further responsible for "registration, screening, training and organizing,"[16] hardly a factor that would suggest the Basij to be an organization independent of the IRGC. Any remaining doubt should have been put to rest when, on February 17, 1981, the Iranian parliament formally incorporated the Basij into the IRGC's organizational structure.[17]

In subsequent years, the IRGC focused on primary security threats--largely external--while the Basij filled secondary gaps. The statute of the Revolutionary Guards, passed by parliament on July 6, 1982, listed the obligations of the Basij as defense of the country and the regime and response to natural disasters (earthquakes are quite common in Iran). With the IRGC taking command of the front with Iraq, the Basij focused on internal security to ensure discipline and loyalty to the regime, even as privations increased. The Basij divided Iranian cities into large resistance areas that were divided into zones and smaller bases, basically at the neighborhood level at which local clergy and "trusted citizens" aided recruitment.[18] Tehran, for example, was divided into eight Basij areas with three hundred IRGC members serving as instructors.[19] Weekly IRGC reports show that the Basij initially fulfilled its role enforcing internal security, but, as the Iran-Iraq War progressed, they also became more active as soldiers on the front lines.[20] Thus, while the IRGC may have been the varsity team and the Basij junior varsity, both played the same game. Bifurcation was more theoretical than real.

Underlying this point was the fact that, while the IRGC took predominant responsibility for operations beyond Iran's borders, the Basij also played some role. In 1982, for example, the IRGC established a Basij unit in Lebanon to "counter Zionist Israel's expansive and multi dimensional invasion of Lebanon."[21]

After the end of the Iran-Iraq War, IRGC members were largely recruited from the ranks of the Basij. But the Basij also assumed a role in defense, especially in nonurban areas.[22] The Iranian leadership may bill Jafari's changes as pathbreaking and radical, but a close examination shows more continuity than change.

The Mosaic Doctrine

The second major reform Jafari introduced was his "Mosaic Doctrine," which involves dividing the IRGC into thirty-one commands--one for each province and two for Tehran (see table 2). The IRGC has, from its beginning, been a centralized entity (see figure 1). Throughout summer 2008, Jafari and Hejazi named the thirty-one units and appointed their chiefs and deputies. The Office of the Supreme Leader has appointed representatives in each unit to be the eyes and ears of the supreme leader. The provincial basis of IRGC units is meant to better local commanders' control over recruitment,[23] but it also restructures IRGC capabilities as an anti-riot force and guards the organization against any attempts to decapitate it, such as might occur should U.S. or Israeli military forces strike the Islamic Republic.

Again, there may be less here than meets the eye. Many of the commanders and deputies resumed service in the same province in which they had already been based and in units that had been little more than renamed. For example, the Hazrat-e Abbas Brigade has been based in the northwestern province of Ardebil both before and after implementation of the Mosaic Doctrine. The same holds true for the 'Ashoura Brigade in East Azerbaijan, the Shohada Brigade in West Azerbaijan, the Imam Sadegh Brigade in Bushehr, the Ansar al-Hossein Brigade in Hamedan, the Neynava Brigade in Golestan, the Ali Ibn-e Abi-Taleb Brigade in Qom, the Hazrat-e Gha'em al-Mohammad Brigade in Semnan, and the Al-Ghadir Brigade in Yazd. The only significant change in the structure of personnel appears to be the promotion of former Basij provincial chiefs to be IRGC deputy chiefs--the continuation of the pattern set by the promotion of former national Basij chief Hejazi to deputy IRGC chief. The Tehran appointments deviate slightly from the pattern since the top commanders are recruited from among central cadres of the IRGC.


The IRGC is the main pillar of defense for the Islamic Republic. Originally envisioned to counter both internal and external threats, the IRGC was forced to focus on external defense after Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran. Since the war's end twenty years ago, the IRGC has been looking for a clear role and purpose. Jafari appears to have found it. "For the time being the main responsibility of the Revolutionary Guards is to counter internal threats, and [only] aid the Army in case of external military threat," he clarified.[24] Indeed, internal threats dominated Jafari's speeches.[25] At a press conference, he explained that the IRGC's responsibilities necessitated a "special and flexible force able to counter different types of threats."[26]

While democracies fear external enemies, undemocratic regimes fear their own people. The paranoid dynamics of politics in the Islamic Republic make authorities look for--and find--internal enemies, saboteurs, and, more recently, "velvet revolutionaries."[27] The imagined state of emergency and fantastic claims of U.S. plots against the Islamic Republic serve the regime well. Any sign of dissent or the slightest opposition to the Islamic Republic is depicted as involvement in a foreign conspiracy. The paranoia also legitimizes IRGC intervention in domestic politics.

Jafari's restructuring is an acknowledgment of the regime's weakness, but its real impact is slight, more smoke-and-mirrors than a real change in command. In practice, the Basij has always been subordinate to the IRGC. Its independence was more form than substance. Likewise, the IRGC's new provincial structure simply legalizes what had become informal reality. The IRGC has long acted as a parallel bureaucracy in the provinces. Whether Jafari truly wants reform is impossible to tell. What is clear is that reform is difficult for the Islamic Republic. Still, sometimes even cosmetic reform can be telling. Whenever the Islamic Republic looks for internal enemies, it finds them. Indeed, having made defense against velvet revolutions his defining issue, Jafari must now prove that he will succeed. The Basij-IRGC merger and the Mosaic Doctrine may not do much for national defense, but they certainly suggest strengthening of the IRGC in internal politics of the Islamic Republic--a power that is more than likely to be used, not only against dissidents, but also against loyal elements of the Islamic Republic who challenge the creeping coup d'etat of the Revolutionary Guards.

Ali Alfoneh ([email protected]) is a visiting research fellow at AEI and a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Copenhagen.

Mr. Alfoneh thanks the Royal Danish Defense College for its support of his research and Major Soeren Bach, Defense Command Denmark, for his insights. AEI resident scholar Michael Rubin and associate editor Christy Hall Robinson worked with Mr. Alfoneh to edit and produce this Middle Eastern Outlook.

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1. "Sarlashgar Jafari farmandeh-ye koll-e Sepah-e Pasdaran shod" [Major General Jafari Appointed Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary Guards], Mehr News Agency (Tehran), September 1, 2007, available in Persian at www.mehrnews.com/fa/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=544358 (accessed July 29, 2008).
2. "Rahbar-e mo'zzam-e enghelab be farmandeh-ye jadid-e Sepah darajeh-ye sarlashkari e'ta kardand" [Supreme Leader of the Revolution Promotes Commander in Chief of the Guards to Major General], Hamshahri (Tehran), September 3, 2007, available in Persian at www.hamshahrionline.ir/News/?id=31692 (accessed August 4, 2008).
3. "Farmandeh-ye jadid-e Sepah-e Pasdaran kist?" [Who Is the New Chief of the Guards Corps?], Baztab (Tehran), September 1, 2007, available in Persian at www.baztab.com/news/74278.php (accessed August 4, 2008).
4. "Entesabat-e jadid dar Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami" [New Appointments in Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps], Aftab News (Tehran), August 20, 2005, available in Persian at www.aftabnews.ir/vdcb9a8brhb9.html (accessed August 4, 2008).
5. Mohsen Sazegara, "Iran in Three Dimensions" (speech, AEI, Washington, DC, May 19, 2008), available through www.aei.org/event1726/.
6. "Dovvomin marhaleh-ye razm-ayesh-e bozorg-e payambar-e a'zam aghaz shod" [Second Phase of the Great Prophet War Game Begins], Mehr News Agency, November 1, 2006, available in Persian at www.mehrnews.com/fa/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=400882 (accessed August 4, 2008).
7. Ibid.
8. "Sardar Jafari: Ma'mouriat-e asli-ye Sepah moghabeleh ba tahdid-ha-ye dakheli ast" [Commander Jafari: The Main Mission of the Guards Is to Counter Internal Threats], Hamshahri, September 29, 2007, available in Persian at www.hamshahrionline.ir/News/?id=33971 (accessed August 4, 2008).
9. "Basij dar nirou-ye zamini-ye Sepah edgham nemishavad" [Basij Will Not Be Dissolved in the Ground Forces of the Guards], Hamshahri, October 26, 2007, available in Persian at www.hamshahrionline.ir/News/?id=36411 (accessed August 4, 2008).
10. "Sardar Hejazi janeshin-e farmandeh-ye koll-e Sepah shod" [Commander Hejazi Appointed Deputy Commander in Chief of the IRGC], Fars News Agency (Tehran), May 23, 2008, available in Persian at www.farsnews.net/newstext.php?nn=8703030441 (accessed August 4, 2008).
11. "Tashkil-e Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami be Revayat-e Mohsen Rafiqdoust" [Establishment of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps According to Mohsen Rafiqdoust], Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) (Tehran), April 22, 2007, available in Persian at http://iranianuk.com/article.php?id=10554 (accessed August 4, 2008); and "Mo'arefeh va towdi'e chahar farmandeh-ye arshad-e Sepah" [Presentation and Farewells of Four Senior Guards Commanders], Kayhan (Tehran), May 7, 2006.
12. "Marasem-e mo'arefeh-ye farmandehan-e nirou-ye zamini-ye Sepah, nirou-ye moghavemat-e Basij va Gharar-Gah-e Sar-Allah" [Presentation Ceremonies of the Guards Ground Forces, the Basij Resistance Force, and Sar-Allah Base Chief], ISNA, July 13, 2008, available in Persian at http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1163318&Lang=P (accessed August 4, 2008).
13. "Artesh-e bist milyouni" [Twenty-Million-Men-Strong Army], Payam-e Enghelab (Tehran), November 28, 1981.
14. "Sepah, bazou-ye Velayat-e Faqih" [The Guards, Arms of the Supreme Jurist], Payam-e Enghelab, July 11, 1981.
15. "Gousheh-i az karnameh-ye Sepah dar sali ke gozasht" [Activities of the Guards in the Last Year at a Glance], Payam-e Enghelab, March 19, 1980.
16. Ibid.
17. "Ghanoun-e edgham-e Sazeman-e Basij-e Melli (Mostaz'afin) dar Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami" [Law on Incorporation of the National Mobilization Organization of the Oppressed into the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps], Rouznameh-ye Rasmi (Tehran), March 7, 1981.
18. "Fasl-e chaharom-e asasnameh-ye Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami dar khosous-e asasnameh-ye vahed-e Basi-e Mostaz'afin" [Fourth Chapter of the Statute of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Regarding the Statute of the Basij of the Oppressed], Rouznameh-ye Rasmi, October 3, 1982.
19. "Morouri bar fa'aliyat-ha-ye 'Basij'-e Sepah" [A Survey of Activities of the "Basij" of the Guards], Payam-e Enghelab, February 16, 1981.
20. "Sepah va Basij-e Sepah" [The Guards and the Basij of the Guards], Payam-e Enghelab, May 29, 1982.
21. "Gozareshi az tashkil-e Basij-e Sepah-e Pasdaran dar Lobnan" [A Report on Establishment of the Basij of the Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon], Payam-e Enghelab, October 22, 1982.
22. "Mosahebeh-ye matbou'ati" [Press Interview], Payam-e Enghelab, January 27, 1990.
23. "Farmandeh-ye nirou-ye zamini-ye Sepah: Tarh-e moza'ik-ha-ye defa'I sor'at-e 'amal-e Sepah va Basij ra bala mibarad" [IRGC Ground Forces Chief: Realization of the Mosaic Defensive Doctrine Increases Operational Speed of the Guards and the Basij], Mardomsalari (Tehran), July 27, 2008.
24. "Sardar Jafari: Ma'mouriat-e asli-ye Sepah moghabeleh ba tahdid-ha-ye dakheli ast," Hamshahri.
25. "Sardar Jafari: Ghena'at be vaz'-e mowjoud khata-ye rahbordi ast" [Commander Jafari: Being Satisfied with Status Quo Would Be a Strategic Mistake], Hamshahri, September 4, 2007, available in Persian at www.hamshahrionline.ir/News/?id=31793 (accessed August 4, 2008); and "Tagh'ir-e rahbord-e Sepah-e Pasdaran" [Change of the Revolutionary Guards' Strategy], Hamshahri, September 25, 2007, available in Persian at www.hamshahrionline.ir/News/?id=31729 (accessed August 4, 2008).
26. "Marasem-e mo'arefeh-ye farmandeh-ye jadid-e Sepah" [Presentation Ceremony of New Commander in Chief of the Guards], Hamshahri, September 3, 2007, available in Persian at www.hamshahrionline.ir/News/?id=31729 (accessed August 4, 2008).
27. Middle East Media Research Institute, TV Monitor Project, "Iranian Intelligence Ministry Broadcast Encouraging People to Snitch on Spies Features 'John McCain' Masterminding a Velvet Revolution in Iran from the White House," February 5, 2007, available through www.memritv.org/clip/en/1678.htm (accessed August 11, 2008).
28. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Hazrat-e Abbas-e ('A) ostan-e Ardebil mo'arrefi shod" [Chief of the Hazrat-e Abbas (Peace Be upon Him) Army of Ardebil Province Appointed], Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) (Tehran), July 17, 2008, available in Persian at www.irna.ir/View/FullStory/?NewsId=105653 (accessed July 21, 2008).
29. Ibid.
30. "Mohajeman-e mossallah dar marz-e Iran va Torkiyeh koshteh shodand" [Armed Assailants Killed in Iranian-Turkish Border], BBC Persian, March 1, 2007, available in Persian at www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/story/2007/03/070301_he-insurgents.shtml (accessed July 22, 2008).
31. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Hazrat-e Abbas-e ('A) ostan-e Ardebil mo'arrefi shod," IRNA.
32. Ibid.
33. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e 'Ashoura-ye Azerbaijan-e Sharghi mo'arrefi shod" [Chief of 'Ashoura Army of East Azerbaijan Appointed], IRNA, June 28, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/05/news/view/line-156/8704086609163547.htm (accessed July 21, 2008). The 'Ashoura Army is a merger of the 31st 'Ashoura Army, the regional Basij Resistance Force, IRGC in the province, and other command layers of East Azerbaijan.
34. Ibid. Ossanlou's predecessor as IRGC chief in East Azerbaijan was Commander Mohammad-Yousef Shakeri.
35. "Farmandeh-ye Lashkar-e mekanizeh-ye 31 'Ashoura: Razmandegan-e in lashkar hamchoun defa'e moghaddas az arman-e Emam-e rahel va nezam-e eslami defa'e khahand kard" [31st Mechanized Ashoura Lashkar Chief: Fighters of This Army Will Defend the Ideals of the Blessed Imam and the Islamic Regime Like the Sacred Defense], ISNA, June 15, 2008, available in Persian at http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1147721 (accessed July 22, 2008).
36. "Farmandeh-ye koll-e Sepah: Doshmanan jor'at-e tahdid-e mostaghim-e keshvar-e ma ra nadarand" [IRGC Commander in Chief: The Enemies Do Not Dare Pose a Direct Threat against Our Country], IRNA, July 16, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-151/8704268461073447.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
37. Ibid.
38. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Shohada-ye Azerbaijan-e Gharbi" [Chief of West Azerbaijan IRGC Force], Alborz News (Tehran), July 20, 2008.
39. "Farmandeh-ye koll-e Seah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami: Niro-ha-ye mardomi bayad be badaneh-ye sepah ettesal yabad" [IRGC Commander in Chief: Popular Forces Must Be Attached to the Body of the Guards], ISNA, July 16, 2008, available in Persian at http://isna.ir/Isna/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1164863 (accessed July 21, 2008).
40. "Razmayesh-e bozorg-e ettehad-e melli va ensejam-e eslami-ye basijian dar Mahabad payan yaft" [Great War Game of National Unity and Islamic Harmony of the Basij Members in Mahabad Ends], IRNA, October 23, 2007, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-7/8608013761132845.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
41. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e ostan-e Bushehr: Jang-e resaneh-I az khatarnak-tarin hajmeh-ha-ye doshmanan ast" [IRGC Bushehr Provincial Chief: Media Warfare Is the Most Dangerous of the
Enemy's Assaults], IRNA, July 8, 2008, available in Persian at www.khabarfarsi.com/news-162363.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
42. Ibid.
43. "Vaziran-e kar va sanaye' dar ordou-ye sarasari-ye modiran-e Basij-e Karegari dar Bushehr" [Ministers of Labor and Industry at the Labor Basij Camp Hosting Basij Executives in Bushehr], Namayan News (Bushehr), April 27, 2008.
44. "Aghaz-e ordou-ha-ye Hejrat-e Basij-e Jam'e-ye Pezeshki-ye Bushehr" [Beginning of Hejrat Camps of Bushehr Physician's Association], Ebtekar (Tehran), July 6, 2008, available in Persian at www.ebtekarnews.com/Ebtekar/Article.aspx?AID=7158 (accessed July 23, 2008).
45. "Aghaz-e marhaleh-ye ostani-ye tour-e emdadi-ye docharkheh-savari-ye sabz-e Shohada" [Shohada Green Relief Cycling Tour Begins Its Provincial Level], Nasim-e Jonoub (Bushehr), available in Persian at http://nasimjonoub.com/articles/article.asp?id=2847 (accessed July 23, 2008).
46. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Ghamar-e Bani-Hashem Chahar-Mahal va Bakhtiari mo'arrefi shod" [Ghamar-e Bani-Hashem IRGC Army of Chahar-Mahal and Bakhtiari Appointed], IRNA, July 2, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8704121672123456.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
47. Ibid.
48. "Akhbar-e Koutah" [Brief News], Sobh-e Sadegh (Tehran), October 20, 2003, available in Persian at http://sobhesadegh.ofogh.net/1382/0123/matn/04.htm (accessed July 23, 2008).
49. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Ghamar-e Bani-Hashem Chahar-Mahal va Bakhtiari mo'arrefi shod," IRNA.
50. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Saheb al-Zaman-e ostan-e Esfahan mo'arrefi shod" [Commander of the Saheb al-Zamen (Peace Be upon Him) Army of Esfahan Appointed], IRNA, June 30, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.com/03/news/view/menu-626/8704106269131923.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
51. Ibid.
52. Ibid.
53. "Sepah-e Fajr-e ostan-e Fars, goshayesh-e fasl-e jadid-e eftekhar-afarini-ye salahshouran-e sarzamin-e Fars" [Fajr Army of Fars Province, Beginning of a New Chapter of Valorous Deeds of the Land of Fars], IRNA, June 28, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8704080334124146.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
54. Ibid.
55. "Roydad-ha-ye Sepah" [News from the Guards], Sobh-e Sadegh, January 9, 2006, available in Persian at www.sobhesadegh.ir/1384/0235/p04.pdf (accessed July 22, 2008).
56. "Sepah-e Fajr-e ostan-e Fars, goshayesh-e fasl-e jadid-e eftekhar-afarini-ye salahshouran-e sarzamin-e Fars," IRNA.
57. "Tarh-e 'Neshat va ta'ali' dar Fars ejra mishavad" ["Happiness and Exaltation" Scheme to Be Conducted in Fars], Ebtekar, June 18, 2008, available in Persian at www.ebtekarnews.com/ebtekar/News.aspx?NID=33199 (accessed July 22, 2008).
58. "Yek magham-e Sepah: Masouliat-e Sepah dar in borhe az zaman besyar bozorg ast" [An IRGC Authority: Responsibiilty of the Guards in This Era Is Very Great], IRNA, June 28, 2008, available in Persian at www.khabarfarsi.com/news-140184.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
59. Ibid.
60. "Shahid Torab Pour-Gholi, avvalin shahid-e ostan-e Gilan dar defa'e moghaddas" [Martyr Torab Pour-Gholi, the First Martyr of Gilan in the Sacred Defense], Gilan News (Gilan), April 8, 2008.
61. "Yek magham-e Sepah: Masouliat-e Sepah dar in borhe az zaman besyar bozorg ast," IRNA.
62. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Ghods-e Gilan mo'arrefi shod" [IRGC Ghods Force Appointed], Gilan News, June 29, 2008.
63. "Farmandeh-ye Basij-e keshvar: Sepah va Basij do now-avari-ye Emam va Enghelab-e Eslami boud" [Basij Chief of the Country: The Guards and Basij Were Two Innovations of the Imam and the Islamic Revolution], IRNA, July 8, 2008, available in Persian at www1.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-149/8704181849214607.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
64. Ibid.
65. Ibid.
66. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Ansar al-Hossein-e ostan-e Hamedan mansoub shod" [IRGC Chief of Ansar al-Hossein Army of Hamedan Appointed], Tebyan-e Hamedan (Hamedan), July 3, 2008.
67. Ibid.
68. "Sardar Ayoub Soleymani: Nirou-ye Moghavemat-e Basij dar sal-e 85 'amalkard-e derakhshani dasht." [Commander Ayoub Soleymani: Basij Resistance Force Has a Shining Record for the Year 2007], Hegmataneh (Hamedan), February 7, 2008, available in Persian at www.hegmataneh.org/1386/03/05/_85_1.php (accessed July 22, 2008).
69. "Ghabeliat-ha va zarfiat-ha-ye Sepah ra dar anjam-e ma'mouriat-ha afzayesh dahim" [Let Us Increase Capacities and Capabilities of the Guards While Attending Duties], Shabestan News Agency (Tehran), July 20, 2008, available in Persian at www.shabestan.ir/newsdetail.asp?newsid=87043012353825&code=76 (accessed July 21, 2008).
70. Ibid.
71. "Dar pey-e tagh'irat-e sakhtari-ye Sepah dar ostan-ha, Sepah-e Emam Sajjad-e Hormozgan tashkil shod" [Following IRGC's Provincial Structural Changes, Imam Sajjad IRGC Army of Hormozgan Was Formed], ISNA, July 14, 2008, available in Persian at http://branch.isna.ir/Mainoffices/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-79462 (accessed July 21, 2008).
72. "Re'is-polis-e Ilam: Tahajom-e farhangi shiveh-ye doshmanan bara-ye moghabeleh ba nezam ast" [Ilam Police Chief: Cultural Invasion Is the Method of the Enemy to Counter the Regime], IRNA, July 5, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.com/fa/news/view/menu-269/8704150068132503.htm (accessed July 22, 2008).
73. "Farmandeh-ye gharar-gah-e Najaf: Sepah-e Pasdaran dar behtarin sharayet gharar darad" [Najaf Base Chief: The Revolutionary Guards Are in the Best Position], IRNA, June 24, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8704049728142655.htm (accessed July 22, 2008).
74. "Enteghad-e shadid al-lahn-e sardar Kaki farmandeh-ye arshad-e Sepah-e Hamedan az masoulin-e nakaramad-e ostan-e Ilam" [Harsh Criticism of Senior Hamedan IRGC Commander Kaki of Incompetent Authorities in Hamedan], Ilam News (Ilam), January 26, 2008.
75. "Rouy-dad-ha-ye Sepah" [News from the Guards], Sobh-e Sadegh, February 19, 2007, available in Persian at www.sobhesadegh.ir/1385/0291/p04.pdf (accessed July 22, 2008).
76. "Sepah-e ostan-e Kerman ba 'onvan-e 'Sepah-e Sarallah' tashkil shod" [IRGC Army of Kerman Formed under the Name of Sarallah Army], Fars News Agency, June 30, 2008, available in Persian at www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8704101150 (accessed July 21, 2008).
77. Ibid.
78. "Sharh-e majara" [The Course of Events], Shahid Hajj-Ahmad Kazemi blog, April 13, 2007, available in Persian at http://ahmad-kazemi.blogfa.com/post-34.aspx (accessed July 22, 2008).
79. "Sepah-e ostan-e Kerman ba 'onvan-e 'Sepah-e Sarallah' tashkil shod," Fars News Agency.
80. "Ahdaf-e tarh-e misagh-e Basij e'lam shod: Jazb-e gorouh-ha-ye bishtar, ensejam-e nirou-ha-ye sazemandehi-shodeh-ye Basij" [Goals of the Misagh Scheme of the Basij Announced: More Recruitment, Harmonization of the Organized Basij Forces],
Kerman-e Ma (Kerman), June 10, 2007.
81. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e ostan-e Kermanshah mo'arrefi shod" [IRGC Chief of Kermanshah Province Appointed], ISNA, July 2, 2008, available in Persian at http://kermanshah.isna.ir/mainnews.php?ID=News-17896 (accessed July 21, 2008).
82. "Farmandeh-ye arshad-e Sepah dar gharb-e keshvar" [Senior IRGC Commander in Western Iran], ISNA, March 5, 2008, available in Persian at http://kermanshah.isna.ir/mainnews.php?ID=News-16240 (accessed July 21, 2008).
83. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e ostan-e Kermanshah mo'arrefi shod," ISNA.
84. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Khorasan-e Shomali mo'arrefi shod" [North Khorasan IRGC Chief Appointed], Farda News (Tehran), June 28, 2008, available in Persian at www.fardanews.com/fa/pages/?cid=54797 (accessed July 21, 2008).
85. Ibid.
86. Ibid.
87. "Akhbar-e Koutah" [Brief News], Quds (Mashhad), November 14, 2006, available in Persian at www.qudsdaily.com/archive/1385/html/8/1385-08-23/page3.html (accessed July 23, 2008).
88. "Sepah-e Emam Reza dar Khorasan-e Razavi tashkil shod" Shabestan News Agency, July 2, 2008, available in Persian at www.shabestannews.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=87041213080934&code=58 (accessed July 21, 2008).
89. Ibid.
90. Ibid.
91. Ibid.
92. Ibid.
93. "203 paygah-e Basij dar ostan-e Khorasan-e Jonoubi mojri-ye tarh-e neshat va ta'ali hastand" [Two Hundred Three Basij Bases in South Khorasan Province Engaged in the Happiness and Exaltation Scheme], Basij News Agency (Tehran), June 26, 2008, available in Persian at www.basijnews.com/Ndetail.asp?NewsID=19344 (accessed July 21, 2008).
94. Ibid.
95. "Taghdir-e farmandeh-ye mantaghe-ye moghavemat-e Basij-e Sepah-e Khorasan-e Jonoubi sartip-dovvom-e pasdar Gholam-Reza Ahmadi az basijian-e ostan" [Brigadier General Reza Ahmadi Praises Members of the Guards' Basij in Southern Khorasan Operational Area], South Khorasan Portal, November 27, 2007.
96. "Namayandeh-ye vizheh-ye farmandeh-ye koll-e Sepah: Gharn-e bist va yekom gharn-e Eslam ast" [Special Representative of Commander in Chief of the Guards: The Twenty-First Century Is the Century of Islam], IRNA, July 1, 2008, available in Persian at www.khabarfarsi.com/news-148398.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
97. Ibid.
98. "Towdi'e va mo'arefeh-ye mas'oul-e namayandegi-ye Vali-ye Faqih dar Lashkar-e 7 Vali Asr" [Farewell and Presentation Ceremony of the Supreme Leader's Representatives in the Seventh Vali Asr Lashkar], Nour-e Khouzestan.
99. "Namayandeh-ye vizheh-ye farmandeh-ye koll-e Sepah: Gharn-e bist va yekom gharn-e Eslam ast," IRNA.
100. "Howeizeh yek ghat'e-ye 'ashoura-yi va mandegar ast" [Howeizeh Is an Ashurayean Piece and Therefore Eternal], Shahid Hossein Alam al-Hoda (Mashhad), available in Persian at www.alamalhoda.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=164&Itemid=1 (accessed July 21, 2008).
101. "Hamdeli va ekhlas-e Pasdaran ramz-e tahhavol-e Sepah ast" [Unity of Heart and Sincerity of the Guardsmen Is the Secret of Transformation of the Guards], Basij News Agency, July 21, 2008, available in Persian at www.basijnews.com/Ndetail.aspNewsID=20303 (accessed July 21, 2008).
102. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e ostan-e Kohkilouyeh va Boyer-Ahmad mo'arrefi shod" [IRGC Chief of Kohkilouyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Appointed], ISNA, July 2, 2008, available in Persian at http://isna.ir/Isna/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1157123 (accessed July 21, 2008).
103. "Dast-yabi be fan-avari-ye soukht-e hasteh-I jahan ra mottehayyer kard" [Access to Nuclear Fuel Technology Has Stupefied the World], Fars News Agency, April 13, 2006, available in Persian at www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8501240129 (accessed July 21, 2008).
104. "Gheflat az rah-e shohada bozorgtarin tahdid bara-ye keshvar ast" [Ignorance on the Path of the Martyrs Is the Greatest Threat to the Country], Basij Students News Network (Tehran), July 15, 2008, available in Persian at http://snn.ir/NewsContent.aspx?NewsID=74190 (accessed July 23, 2008).
105. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Beit al-Moghaddas-e Kordestan mo'arrefi shod" [Commander of Beit al-Moghaddas IRGC Army of Kordestan Appointed], Basij News Agency, July 5, 2008, available in Persian at www.basijnews.ir/Ndetail.asp?NewsID=19725 (accessed July 21, 2008).
106. Ibid.
107. Ibid.
108. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Lorestan mo'arrefi shod" [IRGC Chief of Lorestan Appointed], ISNA, July 5, 2008, available in Persian at http://isna.ir/Isna/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1159191 (accessed July 21, 2008).
109. Ibid.
110. "Dovvomin jashnvareh-ye nava-ha-ye hemasi-e Rahmat" [Second Rahmat Military March Festival], Soureh-ye Mehr (Khorram Abad), available in Persian at www.iricap.com/magentry.asp?id=5219 (accessed July 23, 2008).
111. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Lorestan mo'arrefi shod," ISNA.
112."Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Rouhollah-e ostan-e Markazi mo'arrefi shod" [IRGC Rouhollah Army Chief of Markazi Province Appointed], IRNA, July 1, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.com/fa/news/view/menu-273/8704114113182024.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
113. Ibid. Prior to this appointment, Brigadier General Ahmad Salim-Abadi was the IRGC chief in Markazi province.
114. "Farmandeh-ye Basij-e Golestan: Gharb dar moghabeleh ba keshvar-ha-ye eslami be 'amaliyat-e ravani rouy-avard" [The West Uses PSYOPS against Islamic Countries], IRNA, November 27, 2007, available in Persian at www1.irna.com/ar/news/view/line-9/8609065179155929.htm (accessed July 23, 2008).
115. "Janeshin-e farmandehi-ye Sepah-e Rouhollah-e ostan-e Markazi mo'arrefi shod" [Deputy Chief of Rouhollah IRGC Army of Markazi Province Appointed], IRNA, July 21, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8704315420095631.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
116. Ibid.
117. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Karabala-ye Mazandaran: Sepah bazou-ye tavanmand-e nezam-e eslami ast" [Karbala IRGC Army Chief in Mazandaran: The Guards Is the Powerful Arm of the Islamic Regime], IRNA, June 29, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8704092756145855.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
118. Ibid.
119. Governorate of Mazandaran, "Akhbar-e tarh-e takrim" [News from the Takrim Scheme], July 2, 2008.
120. "Farhang-e defa'e moghaddas va isar dar jame'eh gostaresh yabad" [The Culture of the Sacred Defense and Self-Sacrifice Should Proliferate in the Society], Shabestan News Agency, July 9, 2008, available in Persian at www.shabestan.ir/newsdetail.asp?newsid=87041911070440 (accessed July 23, 2008).
121. Mazandaran Province Public Relations Office, "Mohandes Shaffeghat dar jalaseh-ye showra-ye edari-ye ostan-e Mazandaran e'lam kard" [Engineer Shaffeghat Announces at the Administrative Council of the Mazandaran Province], March 13, 2007.
122. "Sardar Hejazi: Sakhtar-e jadid, amadegi-ye Sepah dar barabar-e tahdidat afzayesh midahad" [Commander Hejazi: The New Structure Increases the Preparedness of the Guards toward Threats], IRNA, June 29, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8704092720122557.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
123. Ibid.
124. Ibid.
125. Bizhan Yeganeh, "Tagh'ir-e sakhtar va barkenari-ye gostardeh farmandehan-e miani-ye Sepah" [Change of Structure and Widespread Change of Mid-Ranking IRGC Commanders], Radio Farda (Prague), June 30, 2008.
126. Ibid.
127. "Dar marasem-e todi'e va mo'arefeh-e farmandeh-ye Lashkar-e 17 'onvan shod" [Said at the Presentation of Seventeenth "Lashkar"], Shakhe-ye Sabz (Qom), January 4, 2008, available in Persian at http://shsabznews.blogfa.com/post-231.aspx (accessed July 23, 2008).
128. "Mo'arrefi-ye farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Hazrat-e Gha'em-e ostan-e Semanan" [Appointment of Chief of Hazrat-e Ghe'em IRGC Army of Semnan Province], Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting News Network, June 30, 2008.
129. Ibid. Prior to this appointment, Commander Abnoush was the IRGC chief of Semnan Province.
130. "Entesabat-e jadid-e shahrestan-ha" [New Appointments in the Provinces], Kayhan, April 28, 2008.
131. "Sepah-e pasdaran-e enghelab-e eslami-ye Sistan va Baluchistan ba tarkib-e jadid tashkil shod" [Sistan and Baluchistan Province IRGC Formed with New Structure], IRNA, July 2, 2008, available in Persian at www.khabarfarsi.com/news-150396.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
132. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e ostan-e Sistan va Baluchistan mo'arrefi shod" [Sistan and Baluchistan Province IRGC Chief Appointed], ISNA, July 2, 2008, available in Persian at http://sb.isna.ir/mainnews.php?ID=News-14388 (accessed July 21, 2008).
133. "Mosahebe ba janeshin-e farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Salman-e ostan-e Sistan va Balouchestan" [Interview with Deputy Chief of Salman IRGC of Sistan and Baluchistan Province], Basij News Agency, July 17, 2008, available in Persian at www.basijnews.com/Ndetail.asp?NewsID=20067 (accessed July 23, 2008).
134. "Era'eh-ye gozaresh-e kolli az 'amal-kard-e tarh-e Hejrat-e 3 dar Tabestan-e 86 dar ostan-e Sistan va Balouchestan" [Presentation of General Report Evaluating the Hejrat 3 Scheme of Summer 2007], Hemaseh-ye Javidan dar Sistan va Baluchistan (Zahedan), available in Persian at http://hemasebasij.blogfa.com/post-63.aspx (accessed July 23, 2008).
135. "Ali-ye Fazli farmandeh-ye Sepah-e ostan-e Tehran shod" [Ali Fazli Appointed IRGC Chief of Tehran Province], Borna News (Tehran), June 30, 2008, available in Persian at www.bornanews.com/Nsite/FullStory/?Id=163439 (accessed July 21, 2008).
136. Ibid.
137. "Sardar Ali Fazli farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Seyyed al-Shohada-ye ostan-e Tehran shod" [Commander Ali Fazli Appointed Seyyed al-Shohada IRGC of Tehran Province], Fars News Agency, June 29, 2008, available in Persian at www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8704091090 (accessed July 23, 2008).
138. "Ali-ye Fazli farmandeh-ye Sepah-e ostan-e Tehran shod," Borna News.
139. Ibid.
140. "Sardar Eraghi farmandeh-ye Sepah-e Mohammad Rasoul-allah-e Tehran-e bozorg" [Commander Eraghi Appointed Mohammad Rasoul-Allah IRGC Army of Greater Tehran], Fars News Agency, July 1, 2008, available in Persian at www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8704110628 (accessed July 21, 2008).
141. Ibid. Prior to this appointment, Brigadier General Javad Khezrayi was the chief of the 27th Mechanized Lashkar Mohammad Rasoul-Allah.
142. "Sardar Eraghi be 'onvan-e farmandeh-ye jadid-e Mantagheh-ye Basij-e Tehran-e Bozorg Mo'arrefi shod" [Commander Eraghi Appointed Chief of Greater Tehran Basij Area], IRNA, May 4, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/line-9/8702152498140818.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
143. General Government of Yazd, "Mo'arrefi-ye farmandeh-ye jadid-e 'tip-e' mostaghel-e 18 Al-Ghadir ba hozour-e farmandeh-ye nirou-ye zamini-ye Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami" [Presentation of the New Chief of 18th Al-Ghadir Independent "Tip" in the Presence of IRGC Ground Forces Chief], January 13, 2007.
144. "Farmandeh-ye arshad-e Sepah-e Yazd: Moghabeleh ba doshman niazmand be farhang-e isar va shahadat ast" [Countering the Enemy Necessitates a Culture of Self-Sacrifice and Martyrdom], IRNA, June 22, 2008, available in Persian at www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8704028507111909.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).
145. "Farmandeh-ye Sepah-e mantaghe-ye Zanjan: Hich selahi borrandeh-tar az selah-e ma'naviat nist" [Zanjan Area IRGC Commander: No Weapon Is Sharper Than Spirituality], IRNA, June 16, 2008, available in Persian at www1.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-155/8703276005122125.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).

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About the Author


  • Ali Alfoneh's research areas include civil-military relations in Iran with a special focus on the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Islamic Republic. Mr. Alfoneh has been a research fellow at the Institute for Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College and has taught political economy at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Southern Denmark.

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