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Notorious Baseej Patrols to be Re-Deployed All Over Iran

Gholamhossein Gheybparvar is a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guards who currently commands Basij forces, undated.

Neighborhood patrols will to be deployed all over Iran, the commander of Mobilization Resistance Force, Baseej, has announced.

“We have plans to reduce the number of checkpoints and gradually replace them with neighborhood patrols”, Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA cited the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ commander of Baseej, General Gholamhossein Gheybparvar as saying on November 15, in a press conference.

Meanwhile, in its Thursday edition, the reformist daily Etemad has compared the new plan to the notorious Revolutionary Committees, renowned as “Komiteh”s in 1979 when the Islamic Republic was established in Iran.

Immediately after the Islamic Revolution, the Komitehs, pushing the regular police forces aside, were deployed in all major cities, erecting checkpoints wherever they wanted, inspecting and searching people, vehicles and arresting whoever they suspected of being anti-revolutionary.

“Of all the Government agencies created as a result of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, not one is more feared or detested than the Komiteh, or Committee, the national disciplinary patrol responsible for enforcing Islamic regulations on social behavior” reported the New York Times in 1990.

Now, apparently the most feared Komitehs are set to return.

The commander of Baseej has not explained the necessity and reason behind devising the new plan but, has maintained, “The candidates for serving as patrols will be selected and trained after their credentials are approved”.

The new patrols, according to General Gheybparvar, “Are not going to be armed and will serve in coordination with judiciary and police forces”.

Exercise of "Sarollah", a 50 thousand Basij unit in Tehran. The mounted Baseej played a major role in breaking up protest gathering. Sept, 2015
Exercise of "Sarollah", a 50 thousand Basij unit in Tehran. The mounted Baseej played a major role in breaking up protest gathering. Sept, 2015

Furthermore, the IRGC general has insisted that the new patrols will not enter people’s private properties and will only take the responsibility for providing security in public places.

However, he has also not elaborated on what the new patrols can do that the police cannot.

Though, immediately after the Islamic Revolution, Baseej forces were deployed and set their own checkpoints all over Iran, but their numbers were significantly reduced in late 1980s.

In 2008, once again, Baseej patrols reappeared all over Iran. They used to patrol major cities on foot and in groups of five.

“Baseej patrols are deployed in 1000 urban locations all over Iran to help providing stable security in the neighborhoods, confront the burglars and thugs and prevent any attempt to vandalize and damage public properties”, Baseej’s Operations deputy, Ahmad Zolqadr said at the time.

Nevertheless, a year later, in 2009, during the controversial presidential election, the newly deployed patrols played a crucial role in suppressing millions of people who protested official result of the voting and reelection of the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Video clips and images showing a Baseej patrol car storming into protesters was widely distributed and shocked everybody.

According to reformist daily Etemad, the new plan is a sort of history revisited. The new patrols, Etemad says, are a reminder of Komitehs in 1980s when they were involved in a gamut of matters, including confrontation with distributors of what was labelled as “illegal cassettes” and tapes of songs and videos as well as storming into family parties they labelled as immoral.

Meanwhile, a motion titled as “strengthening Baseej” was passed by majlis on Wednesday, November 15. The parliamentary motion was originally passed in 2015 but the Guardian Council, GC returned it to majlis for some amendments.

Based on the new amendments, the government is dutybound to allocate suitable plots for military training of Baseej forces and their maneuvers.

Several other motions have also passed in recent years aimed at strengthening Baseej.

Baseej forces are mainly selected from volunteer youth, usually school dropouts who relish a powerful role in society.

It is not clear why parliament insists on strengthening Baseej and not the regular police force.