Iranian news agencies reported on Sunday April 21 that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has appointed a new chief commander for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the IRGC.
The new Commander-in-chief is 59-year old Hossein Salami who was IRGC's deputy commander for almost ten years.
While appointing him as chief commander Khamenei promoted Salami to the rank of Major General and asked him to boost the military's capabilities "in all areas". Khamenei also called for giving IRGC's command a deeper "spiritual" foundation.
This can be understood as even a stronger commitment by the military loyalty to the Supreme Leader.
Former commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari's 10-year tenure came to an end two years ago, but Khamenei renewed his mandate for another three years.
It is not clear if the change was simply long overdue, or there are other reasons.
The outgoing commander, Jafari, has been appointed as the commander of its soft war (power) headquarters which was established in 2016 as a “cultural” entity within the Guards Corps.
IRGC's presence at the scene of relief efforts following recent floods in Iran became controversial and its popularity apparently declined even among the Islamic Republic insiders as some members of parliament questioned the presence of foreign militia in Iran reportedly at Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani's invitation without consulting the legislature.
IRGC is said to control a major part of Iran's economy through its financial cartel Khatam ol-Anbia Headquarters, which is active in many different areas including banking, oil industry, telecommunications, and domestic and foreign trade.
IRGC's new commander General Hossein Salami is known for his hard line on domestic and foreign policies. He has often made harsh comments against the United States, Israel, and Europe .
In February 2018 he said that "Iran has missile capabilities that are far superior to those of Russia and the United States.”
His most recent reported comment came on April 13 when he said he and other members of the IRGC were proud to have been designated a "terrorist" entity by the US government.
Two weeks ago, the United States designated IRGC as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization".