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The Iron Grip Of Iran’s IRGC


A member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards checks a missile inside an underground depot in an undisclosed location, in this handout photo released by the official website of IRGC on March 8, 2016

The majority of commanders in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and their allies put all their eggs in one basket by supporting mid-ranking cleric Ebrahim Raeisi in May’s presidential election.

Their bet missed the target by a wide margin. But they are bent on defending their privileged status, argues Radio Farda contributor Majid Mohammadi.

In the May presidential election, incumbent Hassan Rouhani, described as a “moderate,” overwhelmingly won the popular vote. Yet IRGC commanders never accepted their failure in stopping Rouhani’s re-election. Instead of gracefully accepting the outcome, they chose to intensify their campaign against him.

Hardly a day goes by without the IRGC targeting Rouhani through vitriolic criticism of his every decision, plan, or project.

When Rouhani succeeded in signing a contract with France’s giant oil company, Total, the commanders instantly lined up against the deal. Their close ally, the national Radio and TV network, dedicated an hour of primetime to an IRGC commander who dismissed Rouhani’s achievement as “treason” and a forced “colonial contract.”

The IRGC, closely allied with Iran’s theocracy, is the most powerful and influential entity in the country’s politics, including foreign, economic, cultural, and social affairs.

In today’s Iran, it is easy to see the IRGC’s footprints in almost all lucrative businesses and ventures, including illegal money laundering and even drug smuggling.

The IRGC wants the lion’s share of everything. Comments against it are immediately interpreted as a conspiracy for “weakening” the “elite military” organ in charge of “guarding the revolution.”

The IRGC, closely allied with Iran’s theocracy, is the most powerful and influential entity in the country’s politics, including foreign, economic, cultural, and social affairs.

When it comes to nuclear and missile programs, the IRGC is firmly at the helm. It is also the spearhead of Iran’s foreign interventions, including its military presence in the region.

Events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, and Lebanon have testified to that. Indeed, the IRGC is the only military entity in the world with an army (Qods Force) under its command that is openly and exclusively designed and used for foreign military intervention.

The IRGC is responsible for guarding the regime’s key leaders, ready to protect -- or if necessary make them vulnerable.

It also has an exclusive intelligence apparatus as terrifying as any other intelligence organ in a dictatorship.

Foreign satellite TV channels are reviled by the top authorities in Iran. There, again, it is the IRGC that steps in and distorts programs by beaming disruptive frequencies toward satellites.

Virtually every project worth more than $100 million reportedly goes to the IRGC and its affiliates.

Moreover, the IRGC runs Iran’s most expensive news agencies, including Fars and Tasnim. A big chunk of public services, including mobile phone networks, is also owned and run by the IRGC.

In a nutshell, the IRGC is reminiscent of Latin American drug cartels like Pablo Escobar’s mafia in Colombia.

On top of all this, the judiciary, the Intelligence Ministry, the police force, the national Radio and TV and the Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled are either run by current or former members of the elite military or remain heavily under its influence.

The only entities not completely taken over by the IRGC are the government and Iran’s parliament. Nevertheless, they, too, do not act against the will of the IRGC, lest the IRGC deploy assets to bring them into submission.

Appointing Tehran’s ambassadors is also dictated by the IRGC. For example, an aide to Qods Force chief commander Qassem Soleimani was appointed as Iran’s new ambassador to Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the IRGC has access to all sorts of weaponry available in the country. It is also reportedly involved in laundering billions of dollars, as well as smuggling goods and narcotics into and out of the country.

In a nutshell, the IRGC is reminiscent of Latin American drug cartels like Pablo Escobar’s mafia in Colombia. It builds sports stadiums in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, provides dowry for some poor brides-to-be, and launches health clinics for the needy at the price of taking away their rights to freedom, democracy, and independence.

And yet there are people who over the past several years have categorically opposed any Western sanctions against the IRGC.

By imposing sanctions on the IRGC, hundreds of thousands of people who are employed by the elite force will suffer, they argue.

This is exactly why the IRGC is currently struggling to expand its influence and presence in Iran’s economy. However, the IRGC never stops reminding people that “Work with us and make a guaranteed living; stop working with us and be annihilated.”

IRGC members used to call each other “brother,” but they have in fact transitioned into being the “Big Brother” watching over 80 million Iranians.

The views expressed in this opinion article do not necessarily reflect those of Radio Farda.

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