The announcement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards about a test of several ballistic missiles raised questions about the future of the development of the Iranian weapons after the nuclear agreement concluded by the Iranian regime with the major powers last July? And with regards the US response, US officials made a statement several days ago that their management is looking for a proposal that may lead to the classification of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. This means in the event of the implementation of the proposal , the Iranian- US relations will witness a qualitative shift in the nature of the tension between them, because this time not merely to impose economic sanctions on institutions or persons in the Iranian regime, but terrorism characterization for an official Iranian military institution like the Iranian revolutionary guards , which is one of the pillars of the Iranian regime internally and externally and is directly related to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader (Murshed). If the proposal is implemented, it will mean that Donald Trump has announced about his future directions towards the Iranian regime, so he tends to counter Iran’s influence and cordon off it in the Arab East, especially in Iraq and Syria. In this context, we wonder what is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard?
– Revolutionary Guards in Persian language (Pasdaran) – Ideological army and Guards loyal to the Supreme Leader of the Iranian republic, although it is not organizationally part of the Iranian armed forces, but has an independent command that receive its orders directly from Khamenei . Revolutionary Guards appeared in 5 / May 1979 after the victory of the Iranian revolution and the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, through a decree of the leader of the revolution of Imam Ayatollah Khomeini, and put under the command of Supreme Leader directly. The main objective of the establishment of such a force to collect the various military forces that emerged after the revolution in a single structure loyal to the regime for the protection it and make a balance with the traditional army, which did not participate in the revolution, some of his officers remained faithful to the rule of the Shah. The phase of the Iran-Iraq war during the eighties of the last century, an opportunity, to strengthen the position of the guard and strengthen its roles in the military and political equations, and it is described as a state within a state. since then , the revolutionary Guards has become a large military , political and economic power in the country of the Islamic revolution , and enjoys of special relationship with many influential figures , most notably the former President Ahmadinejad , who was himself a member of the Revolutionary Guards .
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards consists of , according to the estimations of International Institute for Strategic Studies in London , 3500 thousand element, while the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Washington, believes that the number of its members does not exceed 12 000 thousand. In addition to the naval and air units , and it has the supervision authority on Iran’s strategic weapons . And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a defensive deterrent capabilities, such as missile systems that can carry cluster warheads , can throw a small bomb at the 1400 goal, and the officials of it made a statements that it has thousands of trained soldiers to carry out suicide operations . And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has developed its military capabilities in the past decades, remarkably , in addition to several military exercises where it performs them from time to time a long the year , and the organizers in charge of this machine had developed many weapons especially with regard to industry of drones and missiles , including the Shahab missile 1,2 and 3 as well as air defense systems and electronic warfare and also the Guard controlled the paramilitary resistance forces (Basij), a volunteer force consists of about 90 thousand men and women , and has the ability to mobilize about million volunteers when necessary.
Observers believe that the biggest proof of the influence of the Revolutionary Guards in the body of the state is the arrival of one of its members to the Presidency of the Islamic Republic, a former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Where Ahmadinejad has appointed when elected five ministers in his government of the Revolutionary Guards, as well as the fact that dozens of deputies in the parliament are former members of the Guard. Many of the cadres of the guard entered into the sensitive joints of the state, and most notably the secretary of the Supreme Council for national security , Ali Aridjaniorias , and Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (former chief of the police ), and a number of them became active in the construction and oil sectors.
Economically the Revolutionary Guards also dominated on about a third of the Iranian economy, and through extending his influence on a number of charitable foundations and trusts and subsidiary companies. Where it was engaged in many economic projects, worth to billions of dollars in oil and gas and infrastructure fields, and a huge financial and investment institutions linked to it inside Iran, including several productivity and service sectors, including construction, roads, oil and telecommunications.
As for the external role Although the number of elements of the Revolutionary Guards least number of regular army troops, but the Guard is the dominant military force in Iran, which is behind many of the major military operations in the country and abroad. The general commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, played a major role in the implementation of policies of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei abroad. Quds Force belongs to the Revolutionary Guards , which is the military wing which is carrying out a private operations out of bounds, and its forces are estimated by about 50 thousand element, working under the leadership of Qassem Soleimani who was promoted to the rank of Major General in 2011, the highest rank in the Revolutionary Guards, and Soleimani is considered the planner for two major initiatives in Iran’s foreign policy, namely: the exercise and the expansion of Tehran’s influence in the internal political affairs of Iraq, and to provide military support to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Last year, General Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari disclosed of the presence of about 2,000 thousand fighters linked to the Revolutionary Guards present in a number of countries in the region, shedding more light on the Iranian involvement in the going on wars in it , while sources of the follow-up to the Iranian affair revealed that the losses of Iran of men increased in Syria. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari stressed of the readiness of some 200 thousand fighters in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying that the changes in the Middle East in recent years are «positive», as reported by the government agency Mehr. Jafari added that he looked forward to «encourage» the third generation of «revolution» to support « velye al-Faqih » and Islamic Republic in Iran, pointing to the importance of the presence of Iranian youth in Syria, Iraq, Yemen battles. Jafari was speaking at the funeral ceremony of the leader of the Revolutionary Guards «Hamid Reza Ossadollhe» who was killed at the end of December in Aleppo.
In the current February 14 , Ali reza Jafar zadeh held ,A deputy of Representation of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a conference, in the US in which he revealed about the foreign training centers for militias of the forces of the Iranian Guards managed by the Quds Brigade and spread in different parts of Iran, where they train elements of sectarian militias from Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the press conference, “MKO” , the founding Organization of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has obtained, from sources inside Iran About details of camps and rules of training most notably is Training Directorate in the Qods Force in the barracks (Imam Ali), located in the Kilo 20 Highway Tehran – Karaj – Boulevard (Ardstana) at the end of the street (Saravan) and there are several barracks of the Revolutionary guards in the site .
These barrack is located within a large group in the southeast section, and an area of approximately 100 thousand square meters (350 to 330 meters). There is another section of this group called the barracks of “Mustafa Khomeini,” a special section of the logistics for the barracks (Imam Ali) and has a separate gate for entry and exit. The Iranian Resistance spotted so far 14 training centers in this directorate, according to a press conference.
The press conference has referred to that the units of the Qods Force have been trained at a separate and confidential units on terrorist acts then are distributed according to countries in the northern Gulf, Asia or Africa or Latin America. Elements who are receiving terrorist training are isolated individually and in isolated locations. They are in a private residential units inside the barracks (Imam Ali) to accommodate the numbers of between 10 and 100 people.
During the past few years, the Quds Force entered a number of mercenaries from Latin America, including Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia to receive such training courses in the barracks (Imam Ali). Regarding these individuals , a maximum secrecy was applied fully and these individuals were isolated from the others and their attendance was strictly confidential. Commander of the training for these elements is Colonel Tahmasbi.
It is believed that the Revolutionary Guard retains elements of it in the Iranian embassies across the world, it is said that these elements are carrying out intelligence operations, and establish training camps, and contribute to providing support for Iran’s allies abroad, such as the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and the Lebanese Hezbollah . Guard has a strong and active presence in civilian institutions and bodies, it controls the Basij, who are loyal to the revolution, as called by the guard to go to the streets in times of crisis, so as to use force to disperse the protesters or defectors. Those immense popular power enjoyed by the guard, in addition to the strong support given by his supreme leader, it made him a key player in Iranian politics.
In the current February 16, US president , Donald Trump described the Iranian regime as ” the first sponsor of terrorism in the world,” It is clear that his tool of terrorism , especially in the Arab Mashreq is the revolutionary guard and the subsequent military formations, the question that arises in this context: is he really working in the elimination of terrorism , which threatens the security and stability of the Levant? Or that political realism and the language of the vital interests will make the terrorism in some day the gardens of flowers ?!
Iranian Studies Unit
Translated by : Mudhaffar al-Kusairi
Rawabet Research and Strategic Studies Center