The Revolutionary Guards October 11, However, they will strongly resist major political and even economic reforms after a nuclear deal. Since then, the Guards have functioned as both the primary internal and external security force. It operates substantial and independent land, sea and air forces. It commands burgeoning missile forces.
It runs asymmetric warfare through the elite Qods Force and proxy groups, such as Hezbollah. And it would most likely command a nuclear arsenal, if the regime chooses to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Over time, the Guards have also been transformed into a leading economic and political actor. Khamenei relied on the Guards to buttress his declining authority and to block political reform. The MEK, a leftist group founded in the s, backed the revolution but then split from the theocrats; it was the largest Iranian opposition group until the election spawned the Green Movement.
The Guards were also responsible for putting down various leftist and ethnic insurgencies that broke out after the revolution. The Guards, loyal to velayat-e faqih , took the lead in repelling Iraq, although their involvement may have actually prolonged the conflict because of their ideological commitment and lack of military experience. The Guards forces now number up to , men divided into land, sea and air forces. The IRGC land forces are estimated to number between , and , Another 20, are in the IRGC naval forces. And the Qods Force totals around 5, The Basij militia, which is subordinate to the Guards, can also mobilize hundreds of thousands of its members to defend Iran against a foreign invasion.
Some surrogates have already been used to target U.
Soleimani, in particular, has assumed a very public role in combatting ISIS. This is perhaps a way for the Iranian government to demonstrate to Iraqi Shiites and the rest of the region that Iran is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Iran has played a crucial role in buttressing President Bashar al Assad, through military advice, provision of weapons, and funding of the cash-strapped Syrian government. But Iran does not appear to be committing major ground forces to the conflict.
Tehran instead prefers to recruit Shiite militias from across the Middle East and even Afghanistan to fight in places like Damascus and Aleppo. The Guards have also developed an asymmetric naval strategy for use against the U.
Thaler David E Nader Alireza and Chubin Shahram
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