Ahmed S. Hashim
Dr. Hashim is an associate professor at the Rajaratnam School for International Studies and academic coordinator/research manager at ICPVTR, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
The first years of Mohammad Reza Shah's rule were tumultuous. The Allies occupied Iran and paid no heed to the timid ruler. The Soviets, in particular, engaged in nefarious activities in the provinces, where they supported communist sympathizers. No statesman of stature seemed to be on the horizon ready to save the country, and the government of one prime minister in particular, Ali Mansur, was notorious for its corruption and inefficiency. The shah struggled to rebuild the legitimacy of his dynasty and the devastated armed forces.1
The Monarch and General Razmara
As the shah drew closer to the West, his patrons (the Americans and British) thought that a charismatic military officer as prime minister might turn things around, and they "persuaded" the shah to choose General Hajjali Razmara.2 Razmara was ambitious; he sought to cleanse the country and limit the shah's powers by purging royalist officers. But Razmara was unable to delegate authority or implement reforms, and he failed to reach agreement with the British over oil royalties. Alarmed by Razmara's independence and incompetence, the shah acted. He bypassed the Western-trained technocrats beholden to Razmara, placing his own cronies in power. He competed with Razmara for the loyalty of the officer corps, which seemed to be slipping from the shah's grasp. The brewing conflagration between monarch and general was averted on March 7, 1951, when Razmara was assassinated by a religious fanatic.
The Monarch and Prime Minister Mossadegh
In the early 1950s, Mohammad Mossadegh, who headed the National Front coalition of secular nationalists, challenged the shah for control over the armed forces and the British for control over oil. Once elected prime minister, Mossadegh passed the Oil Nationalization Law. This elicited the anger of Britain. Mossadegh sought to protect his domestic flank by reducing the powers of the shah. The prime minister believed that the shah should reign but not rule. The military was the concrete symbol of the power of the shah, and Mossadegh was determined to bring it under his own control. In 1951, the court used the army and the large landowning class to manipulate the electoral returns to the Seventeenth Majlis and ensured the election of deputies sympathetic to the crown. One of Mossadegh's colleagues from the National Front, Dr. Hossein Makki, told him, "You are the prime minister and you have to prevent them (the army) from [rigging the elections]." Mossadegh apparently replied that "army officers do not carry out my orders."3 The prime minister believed that the umbilical cord between the shah and the military had to be cut for Iran to become a constitutional monarchy. Therefore, Mossadegh demanded greater power over the military and the right to appoint the minister of war.
In July 1952, the shah decided to confront the premier and denied his requests. Mossadegh resigned in protest. Massive demonstrations known as Qiyam-e-Milliyeh Siyetir (National Uprising of 30 Tir) took place throughout the country in favor of Mossadegh. A dozen people were killed in clashes with the security forces. The military hesitated to move decisively against the people because it had received no clear orders from the supreme commander-in-chief, the shah. Many army officers remembered vividly the severe reprimand that General Fazlollah Zahedi had received for using too much force against rioting Tudeh (pro-Moscow communist) party activists. General Alavi-Moghadam, the chief of staff of the police in Tehran, and General Ali Garzan, the army chief of staff, did nothing. Soldiers and rioting civilians intermingled freely in the streets, and military discipline broke down. Leftists called for the destruction of the monarchy. Right-wing conservative forces led by Ayatollah Kashani exhorted the enlisted men to join the people in the anti-shah struggle. The National Front secular forces were alarmed by the violence they had seemingly unleashed and implored the shah to reinstate Mossadegh.
Mossadegh did not reach out to the military after his return to power. Instead, he alienated it by cutting the military's share of the budget and retiring many pro-shah officers. They formed an "Organization of Retired Officers" dedicated to the removal of the National Front government. With the support of the shah, these officers launched a coup in August 1953. It failed, but the fortunes of the shah were reversed when a second coup, funded and organized by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's MI6, toppled the prime minister and brought the shah back to power. Despite the appointment as chief of staff of General Taqi Riyahi, a Mossadegh loyalist, the officer corps remembered the National Front's animosity towards them and took the shah's side. Mossadegh proved to be as indecisive as the shah. The prime minister also alienated several sectors of society because of the collapse of the economy from the Western boycott of Iranian oil during the nationalization crisis.
Between 1953 and 1963, the shah's authority over the armed forces was challenged three more times. First, the Tudeh party infiltrated the armed forces. In 1942, its leadership had begun to pay attention to the recruitment of officers from the military. Soviet identification of potential sympathizers among the Iranian officers who had surrendered to Soviet invasion forces in 1941 helped the recruitment drive. The Tudeh Military Network (TMN) recruited almost entirely from the ranks of the junior and middle-ranking officers of the middle class. A formidable network of 600 sympathetic officers emerged from a corps of 15,000. The network was discovered and dismantled in 1954, when the government arrested 600 officers, of whom 448 were put on trial for treason. They were given sentences ranging from death to a minimum of two years' incarceration.
The shah set up an internal-security organization that later developed into the feared State Security and National Intelligence Organization (Sazeman-e-Amniyat-e-va Ettela'at-e-Keshvar, or SAVAK) in 1957. The shah was further convinced of the correctness of this move when General Qarani's coup attempt in 1958 was nipped in the bud by the security services.4 All heads of SAVAK were military officers, although it remained organizationally separate from the military, and one of its nine major branches (the Third) monitored the armed forces. Military Intelligence (J-2) had a branch that dealt exclusively with monitoring dissent within the rank and file. The Special Intelligence Bureau (Daftar-e-Vizheh Etelaat, or SIB) was nominally under SAVAK, but was operationally and financially independent. It kept close watch over the armed forces, SAVAK and J-2.
A crisis erupted in 1960, when the ruling party, Melliyun, tried to rig the Majlis elections. This prompted widespread outrage, and the shah had no alternative but to dismiss Prime Minister Eqbal. New elections were held but proved as contentious. The shah named Jaafar Sharif-Imami, a professional politician, as prime minister. A strike by teachers in May 1961 forced a reluctant shah to replace Imami with Ali Amini. Dr. Amini wanted to implement deep reforms in order to alleviate Iran's pressing socioeconomic problems. He favored cutting military appropriations and was supported by the Kennedy administration, which felt that the shah was not moving far or quickly enough in his reforms. The shah saw Amini as a threat. First, the prime minister challenged the shah's control over the military by calling for a cut in the defense budget. But that was a monarchical preserve. The shah wanted to spend lavishly on the military; he saw threats everywhere, and arms imports ensured the loyalty of the officer corps. Second, Amini was too friendly with the Americans. The shah did not want anyone coming between him and his patrons. In July 1962, the shah replaced Amini with Asadollah Alam, a man who was the very definition of an obsequious servant of the crown.
Mohammad Reza Shah moved quickly to adopt the reformist program as his own; it included
• Implementation of land reform
• Sale of public property
• Adoption of a new electoral law calling for women's suffrage
• Nationalization of forestry
• Creation of a national literacy corps
• Adoption of a plan to give workers a share of industrial profits.
The White Revolution was boycotted by the National Front and other secular groups — not because they opposed it; rather they wanted it to be referred to a freely elected Majlis. The religious right voiced opposition to the reforms. There were anti-government disturbances in which a relatively young and obscure cleric, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, took the lead in attacking the monarch. He was opposed to his increasingly authoritarian style of government and his perceived subservience to the United States. The shah relied on the intelligence apparatus and the armed forces to put down this challenge.
By the late 1960s, the shah had consolidated his control over the military. He eliminated officers who demonstrated signs of independence, and he stifled initiative and decision making within the senior corps by involving himself in even the most routine of administrative matters. He personally vetted promotions above the rank of major and rewarded loyalty to the monarch rather than professional competence. Officers were frequently rotated so that they could not build a base of support in any one position. No general officer from the outlying regions was allowed to visit the capital to confer with other generals without the shah's permission. The separate services had their own chiefs, who, along with the chief of staff, formed the Supreme Military Council. This structure was powerless, however. It rarely met and, when it did, it was in the presence of the shah.
The shah also secured the loyalty of the officers through lavish material benefits and special privileges: generous augmented pay, subsidized housing, free education for their children, and military supermarkets. They were allowed to import consumer goods into the country without paying the exorbitant customs duties levied on such items. A Western observer of Iran in the 1970s wrote, the "pay and fringe benefits (of the senior officers) put NATO to shame."5 The shah took care of the military's corporate interests in another way: the provision of arms and sophisticated equipment. His desire for a formidable military was supported by the Nixon administration, which allowed him to acquire almost any weapons system he wanted. By 1979, the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces were the best-equipped and most heavily armed in the Third World. They had a difficult time digesting their sophisticated weaponry, however; their field training exercises (FTXs) were scripted and unimaginative.
By 1977, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shahinshah, Aryamehr (King of Kings, Light of the Aryans), was at the pinnacle of his power. He ruled over a seemingly prosperous and modernizing nation thanks to fabulous oil revenues. His country was a regional influential and an emerging military power supported by a United States, which wanted Iran to be the pillar of Western strategic and economic interests in the Persian Gulf. Iran was on the way to becoming the Tammadon-e-Bozorg, the "Great Civilization."
The dream collapsed in 1978, when a series of severe socioeconomic and external pressures converged on the country. The sharp increase in government spending caused incontrollable inflation, intensifying middle-class discontent. To fight inflation, the government trod on the economic interests of the powerful commercial class (bazaaris) by waging a so-called "anti-profiteering" campaign.6 Yet the brazenly corrupt upper class tied to the shah was engaging in conspicuous consumption on a massive scale. In 1978, a sharp drop in world demand for oil worsened matters, causing a precipitous decline in revenues. The shah's authoritarian rule galvanized opposition to the Pahlavi dynasty. The creation of a one-party state in 1975 had outraged Iran's intellectuals and middle class. In 1977, they had vocalized their frustration with the oppressive political climate and the lack of a free press. The shah's attempt to mobilize all classes under the umbrella of a one-party system was seen as a threat to the age-old autonomous status of the bazaaris and the religious establishment.
In the early months of 1978, religious leaders jumped on the opposition bandwagon after the Ministry of Information published a scurrilous article on the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini. Enraged seminary students went on a rampage in Qom, Iran's most important religious center. The government ordered police to fire on the crowd, killing six seminarians. The clerics set in motion their formidable capacity to mobilize the masses, encouraging soldiers to desert and go home, even providing them with cash and civilian clothes. Two days of rioting and mass disturbances from February 18-20, 1978, disrupted Tabriz, the Azeri capital. The government was forced to call in the army to quell the violence; SAVAK and the police were totally unprepared. This was the first time that the army had been used in internal security since the 1963 crisis, and it did not have the training to handle urban rioting. Unsurprisingly, it overreacted. The government claimed that 30 people were killed and 200 injured; the opposition claimed that 300 were killed and 600 injured. By mid-year, riots and demonstrations were the norm in major cities. With the clerics showing great organizational skill and tremendous courage, the leadership of the uprising devolved upon the exiled Khomeini. The situation continued to worsen as the monarchy's legitimacy inexorably eroded. The shah left Iran in January 1979, with chaos engulfing his country. A caretaker government under Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar took over, and on February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to a tumultuous welcome.
The military was a key factor in the ensuing power struggle between Prime Minister Bakhtiar and the revolutionaries. Many senior officers followed the shah into exile or began negotiating with the revolutionaries to save their necks. Some units deserted their garrisons, refused to obey their superiors, or handed out arms to civilians. On the other hand, in a show of support for the ancien régime, the Imperial Guard forces based at Lavizan in Tehran called upon Allah to "keep us alive to the last breath to fight for the Shah."7 On February 11, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces met for the final time. After heated discussions between those who favored a deal with the revolutionaries and hawks who favored supporting the interim government, the senior officers decided to declare their neutrality: "Considering the recent changes in the country, the Supreme Council of the Army . . . [has] unanimously decided to announce its impartiality during the present conflicts in order to prevent chaos and further bloodshed. Therefore, military units have been ordered to return to their garrisons."8 To declare neutrality was tantamount to tipping the scales in favor of the revolutionaries. Realizing that the game was up, Bakhtiar fled. The revolution had triumphed.
The unity of the revolutionary forces dissolved as soon as victory over the shah was achieved. Revolutionary clerics under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini outmaneuvered their erstwhile allies and emerged in control of the state, though it was a long time before they fully consolidated their power. Once they did, Ayatollah Khomeini utilized his network and charisma to declare an Islamic republic. He implemented a novel idea: the clerical establishment under the helm of the most qualified and senior faqih (jurisconsult) would rule a Muslim state pending the return of the twelfth imam — the Mahdi — who would institute a reign of justice and righteousness.
One of the most difficult challenges the clerics faced was the relationship with the vast and potentially troublesome army. To ensure the triumph of their revolution and consolidate control over the military, the revolutionary government set out to change its entire ethos and purge its ranks. To accomplish this, the clerics set up the Ideological-Political Directorate of the Armed Forces (IPD). The first post-revolutionary defense minister, Admiral Madani, argued that the goal of the new system would be to rebuild the armed forces on a different and more nationalist basis than the American-imported armed forces of the shah:
Our duty and responsibility are not purely military today. Rather we have a people's mission (resalat-e-mardomi). The army should be a school today, that is, a soldier throughout his military service should receive training commensurate with his aptitude and interest in various agricultural and industrial fields, and should enter society as [a part of the] work force.9
Madani also stated that the military would no longer squander billions on sophisticated armaments it could not possibly use:
One of the biggest treasons perpetrated by and introduced as service by the former regime was the purchase of technology, and this policy was carried out in the worst possible manner in the army. The most modern weapons have entered the army without there being a need for them and without having the specialists who could handle them. These were the policies carried out to make us dependent on the foreigners and foreign advisers. But henceforth we will endeavor to bring the specialists first and then purchase the weapons needed for the defense of our national interest. We no longer entertain the stupid and anti-people (sic) whims of the former regime for possessing the most advanced weapons and biggest bases.10
The purges had three goals: (a) to punish the military for the "sins" of supporting the "tyrannical" former regime and for its actions during the revolution; (b) to remove all vestiges of Pahlavism and imperial culture; and (c) to "Islamize" the armed forces (i.e., create an ideological force). The purges, the collapse of the logistics system and the arms relationship with the United States caused immense discontent and anxiety within the officer corps. The effects of this disintegration led Chief of Staff General Farbod to state in May 1979:
When I became chief of staff . . . I did not know what effects the revolution had on the army, so I set about learning about the army. Unfortunately, the people thought that the army lacked weapons. Even more unfortunately, this story had also leaked out to foreign countries; I myself saw numerous articles expressing doubts about whether the Iranian Army had equipment and weapons.
In one of the reviews that were held in March and April, I saw that some soldiers were without uniforms, some even without shirts. This made me think that the revolution had wrecked our military posture. The first time I went to the barracks, I saw that, fortunately, we do still have an army. I saw its equipment and I sent the soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers back to barracks and made them put on their uniforms.11
The abortive Nuzhih coup — an amateurish affair doomed by the penetration of the plot by government counterintelligence — was undertaken in July 1980 by junior and mid-ranking officers from the elite paratroop units in conjunction with secular-nationalist forces. It bolstered the Islamist government's view that the regular military was a haven for anti-regime forces. Executions and another purge followed.
Emergence of the IRGC
The Islamist government decided to create a parallel force to defend the gains of the revolution and act as a foil to the regular army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It would recruit those who were pious and zealous in their defense of the Islamic Revolution. Then Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan fought to prevent the establishment of the IRGC; he and his government believed that this would promote further radicalization and entrenchment of clerical power. When that failed, he tried to prevent its expansion by withholding funds and slowing down the flow of recruits and arms into the organization.12He failed, and the IRGC was formed.
In light of American threats to attack Iran in the wake of the revolutionary regime's seizure of the U.S. embassy and its personnel in early November 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini responded by issuing a call to form a 20-million-man army, the National Basij Organization. Its stated goals were
• To train and organize all volunteers with the goal of confronting any kind of domestic or foreign aggression and to guard the gains of the Islamic revolution
• To create the necessary readiness among the people for fighting the effect of unexpected natural disasters and unexpected calamities.13
After the revolution, a series of revolts broke out in peripheral provinces such as Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan and Khuzistan, where the local minority populations sought greater autonomy over their affairs. The revolutionary government, however, did not undertake revolution to hand over power to minorities; if anything, it was more centralizing than the Pahlavi dynasty. The revolts highlighted the poor state of the Iranian military at the time. Coordination between regular and paramilitary units trying to suppress the revolts was haphazard at best, particularly because of the reluctance of the ill-trained and ill-disciplined IRGC commanders to listen to the advice of regular army officers. The army itself was split. It had a core of junior and mid-ranking officers linked by family ties to the regime and the pro-government bazaari class. They included Colonel Sayyad Shirazi — who ultimately rose to be chief of staff during the war with Iraq — and a close-knit group around him that advocated and achieved greater cooperation between the Artesh and the IRGC. These officers used harsh counterinsurgency methods against the rebellious Kurds, which led to tensions with Bani-Sadr. Many within the regular army did not like the idea of suppressing Iranians, even if they were minorities from the periphery. Some army personnel deserted from the front in the Sanandaj region during the battles with the Kurdish irregulars, the Pesh Merga.14 A senior army aviation officer was tried and executed in Isfahan for his refusal to participate in the war against the Kurdish insurgents; several others were tried and imprisoned.
The defining factor in the Islamic Republic of Iran's (IRI) first decade was the bloody Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). The outbreak of the war in September 1980 saw the regular army in a state of disarray. Some units were at less than 50 percent strength.15 The IRGC and other auxiliary forces were still poorly trained despite their enthusiasm, but they forced the Iraqis to pause, particularly in the city of Khorramshahr, where they fought tenaciously. Even there, the Iranian effort was considerably dissipated by the almost total absence of effective command, control and communications within the ranks of the "volunteers" and IRGC units. The regular army was sent towards the front piecemeal. The 77th Mechanized Infantry Division and the 88th Armored Division both arrived at the front lines without their heavy weaponry or with nonoperational tanks.
President Abol Hasan Bani-Sadr tried to revive the operational capacity and morale of the regular military. He released hundreds of imprisoned military personnel, particularly air-force pilots who had been jailed in the Nuzhih coup attempt, and sent them to fight. He spent much time with the army; his numerous photo opportunities with the army units at the front alarmed the clerics, who feared that Bani-Sadr was promoting the army in order to execute a coup d'état. In October 1980, as Iran was reeling under the Iraqi assault, Bani-Sadr wrote a long-winded letter to Ayatollah Khomeini in which he said,
My dear Father. . . . You were told that I was against the principles of the revolution and that I wanted to revive the army. You refused to believe whatever I said, for example, that our internal and external enemies were about to plunge us into a great disaster and that we must reorganize our army. Nonetheless I did everything in my power and today — contrary to every military tradition — the army is being reorganized under the blow of the enemy. Those (who denounce me) are responsible for our misfortune.16
He returned to this theme again in November 1980 during a big Ashura rally, blaming the machinations of domestic political forces. The clerics and their allies launched verbal assaults, accusing Bani-Sadr of failing to prepare the army for offensive operations. They highlighted the achievements of the IRGC at the front and hinted that the new revolutionary force be reorganized and expanded to field heavy weapons systems.17 The differences between Bani-Sadr and the radicals were many and extended to military affairs. Maktabis (doctrinaire revolutionaries) promoted faith and fervor at the front, and "experts" — pragmatists and secular nationalists — promoted technical skills and military professionalism. These clashes in the midst of war alarmed Ayatollah Khomeini, who worried that these debilitating political conflicts would lead to the politicization of the military. On June 14, 1981, a group of senior officers of the ground forces of the regular army met with Khomeini. Their commander stated,
The army will not interfere with politics; we ourselves will make an effort not to interfere with politics. The comings and goings of this minister or that minister and other changes will not affect the military's maintenance of and obedience to the laws approved by the Constitution on the orders of the leader of the revolution.18
Ayatollah Khomeini took this opportunity to give one of his most important speeches on civil-military relations and the dangers of politicization:
You must remain vigilant. This is the duty of every Iranian. It is the duty of every single garrison to see to it that political issues do not reign there, for once a soldier becomes involved in political matters, then he is no longer a soldier. The soldier who is preoccupied with who is to lead, who is to stay behind or what ought to take place; the soldier who is preoccupied with this or that group, is no longer a soldier; he is then turned into a politician who has usurped a soldier's helmet.
You should all pay attention, for commanders of the army and all the armed forces are duty bound to prevent the armed forces from entering politics. Entering politics would ruin the reputation of the armed forces. Politics in the armed forces is worse than heroin; just as heroin destroys the human body, politics in the armed forces destroys its nature. . . . Do not allow politicians to discuss politics in the army.
I command army commanders to stop discussing political issues in the army. If politicians wish to speak to the army, they must be stopped.19
Bani-Sadr finally lost Khomeini's confidence and fled the country. For the Islamists, the victory over Bani-Sadr resolved many of the prevailing civil-military problems at the time.
The victories in Khuzistan in 1982 were due to the innovative construction of a three-tiered military force.20 This unique structure was divided into the regular army, the Guards, and the volunteers (Basij), with each branch appealing to different social classes and ideological dispositions. The regular army was dominated by nationalists and members of the middle class; the IRGC by members of the more pious lower middle class, youth from the bazaari commercial class and the smaller cities; and the Basij by youth from the rural areas. The successes of 1982 were also due to effective coordination among the three forces.21 Following the Iraqi retreat and the decision of Iran to continue the war until victory, the IRGC took the lead in the formulation and execution of offensive strategy. This was the zenith of the maktabi approach to warfare, and the IRGC extolled revolutionary fervor and piety in the belief that this kind of élan would break through the formidable Iraqi defenses. The strategy led to an appalling waste of young lives, largely from the ill-trained and ill-equipped Basij. Tens of thousands of these youth died, prompting severe discontent that was speedily put down.
Iran mounted a determined, but futile, effort to end the war in 1986. From early 1987, things began to go downhill. The IRGC's ability to break through Iraqi lines had declined.22 Recruitment was down, the IRGC had been severely mauled, particularly in the battles around Basra in 1987 and early 1988. Trained cadres had died by the thousands, and tons of equipment had been lost. Morale within the armed forces and at home was badly damaged, and Iran was now faced with pressure from U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf itself. Iran had run out of options. A fierce debate ensued within the ranks of the senior leadership; the issue was no longer how to prosecute the war until victory, but how to extricate Iran without further losses.23 Iran's acceptance of UNSC Resolution 598 in August 1988, which called on both sides to cease fire, was the result of Deputy Supreme Commander (and speaker of the Majlis) Hashemi-Rafsanjani's pragmatic assessment of the situation following the crippling of the armed forces during the Iraqi offensives of that spring and summer.
The "second republic" was established with the emergence of Hashemi-Rafsanjani as president and the "election" of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the position of faqih following Khomeini's death in 1989. The country was in turmoil following the unfavorable end of the war. One of the foremost issues was civil-military relations and the reconstruction of Iran's defenses. Before his death, Khomeini had made it clear that rebuilding the country's defenses was a priority: "I warn them not to ignore the strengthening of the armed forces under any circumstances and to work towards military self-sufficiency in order to keep this country ever ready to defend the rewards of Islam."24 The need to rebuild the military was also paramount for Khomeini's designated successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, who had been president at the height of the war.
Iran realized that military weakness and perceived instability within the post-revolutionary country had invited the Iraqi leader to attack Iran and that its collapse in 1988 due to equipment shortages, poor organization, and command-and-control failures were invitations to further attacks.25 Both the Artesh and the IRGC began to express serious concerns over the lack of armaments; in a series of media interviews with senior officers of both institutions, there were clear references to the crushing material superiority of the Iraqi adversary.
However, lack of equipment was the least of the problems afflicting Iran's military. The appalling duplication of resources, inefficient management and lack of coordination between the various forces were more severe problems. Rafsanjani indicated that the IRI was going to organize its war-fighting efforts to promote better coordination among all of Iran's military forces:
. . . we will organize the means of using the Armed Forces in a better manner so that there is coordination among the Armed Forces, the IRGC, the Gendarmerie, the other armed forces, the Islamic komitehs, and all those who participate in war.26
The IRGC was particularly vocal in its concerns, precisely because Iran's setback in 1988 was a defeat for their strategic approach. This probably accounts for the fact that senior government officials went to great pains following the end of the war to laud the efforts of the IRGC and to stress its importance. In mid-September 1988, President Khamenei, who was also still the head of the Supreme Defense Council, gave a speech at a gathering of senior IRGC officers, extolling their virtues as defenders of the system and Islam and praising them for their important role during the war with Iraq.27 There were also fears in both the regular army and the IRGC that the two forces would be merged, thus blurring their separate identities. In late October 1988, Khamenei gave a speech at the headquarters of the 64th Division in Urumiyah in Western Azerbaijan in which he said,
The Armed Forces and the Guards Corps are recognized as two armed wings of the Islamic Republic, and they shall continue to be regarded as such. The links between these two powerful forces were made stronger on the battlefields as they confronted the enemy, and we should value this sacred fraternal bond.28
Ultimately, the IRI decided on a compromise: to keep both forces intact and separate but to promote better coordination and cooperation and a reduction of duplication and waste. The Majlis approved a merger bill to create a new organization, the Ministry of Defense and Logistics, in an effort to streamline the cumbersome and inefficient military structure.29
In May 1997, Iranians elected the reformist Mohammad Khatami to the presidency after he decisively defeated the conservative candidate, Majlis Speaker Ali Akbar Nategh Nuri. With the election of a reformist leader and a sense of growing liberalization, students became more active in demanding a more open society. This alarmed the conservatives and the IRGC, causing then IRGC commander Rahim Safavi to express his concerns to President Khatami: "Liberals have taken over our universities, and our youth are chanting ‘death to dictatorship' slogans." The student movement was brutally suppressed in 1999 by IRGC forces, in tandem with the Basij. A strengthened and more professional Basij militia, under the control of the IRGC and acting on its behalf, answered the rise of the student movement with a renewed mission to protect the nation against the threat of liberalizing influences. On July 19, 1999, the conservative Iranian daily Jomhuri-ye-Eslami published a letter signed by 23 senior Iranian commanders blaming President Khatami for the massive student protests. The officers asked why the threats to national security and the anti-government slogans had not been investigated: "Should the violation of sanctities and insulting the principles of this system not be regretted and investigated?"30 The letter placed the blame squarely on Khatami for not allowing the security forces to put down the protests before they had mushroomed. It described his policies as "being tantamount to encouraging chaos and lawlessness."31 The officers suggested that the IRI's foreign enemies were behind the violence and that they were delighted by the ensuing "chaos." Finally, they warned him, "We cannot tolerate this situation any longer if it is not dealt with."32 Khatami buckled, and the reform movement suffered its first defeat.
The IRGC continued to undermine Khatami and his reforms, even to the point of trying to humiliate him publicly. In December 1999, the senior commander of the IRGC in Qazvin launched a vitriolic attack on the reformist camp, in particular Abdollah Nuri and the disgraced Ayatollah Montazeri.33 When Khatami inaugurated the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, the IRGC shut it down after only one flight and threatened to shoot out of the sky any aircraft that tried to land there. The Khatami administration had awarded a Turkish-Austrian consortium the contract for managing the airport, but the IRGC wanted the contract for itself.
The machinations of the IRGC and its sister force, the now subordinate Basij, have altered the shape of Iranian political life over the course of the past decade, eroding the legitimacy of the IRI. The landslide 1997 election of Mohammad Khatami had been an unwelcome surprise for the conservatives, ensuring that they would act to prevent the reformists from making any further inroads. In 2005, the IRGC was instrumental in getting the unknown Mahmoud Ahmadinejad elected president. Ahmadinejad appealed to aging Iran-Iraq War veterans, whose world had been shaped by the revolution and the war. Hard-line conservative cleric Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi openly called for the Basij and IRGC to vote for Ahmadinejad. The IRGC went out of its way to prevent Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist, from making it to the second round. Incredulous and infuriated, Karroubi strongly protested in a letter to Khamenei the IRGC's intervention in politics. He reminded the ayatollah that, in his political will, Ayatollah Khomeini had forbidden the armed forces from intervening in politics. This seemed to have no impact; in the second round of the presidential election of 2005, the IRGC played a key role in the defeat of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the run-off against Ahmadinejad.
The strength of Ahmadinejad's supporters within the revolutionary military establishments was clearly demonstrated by Ahmadinejad's first-term cabinet, which included an extraordinary number of IRGC veterans. By the time the appointments were approved, 17 of the government's 22 ministers had ties to the IRGC. Ahmadinejad further rewarded the IRGC by allowing it to enlarge its commercial and business enterprises. The IRGC with its subsidiary companies is now the largest corporation in Iran, and it is an ugly and ruthless one.34 Like the Mafia, the IRGC does not take "no" for an answer. In August 2006, IRGC operatives seized the Orizont drilling platform, forcing its private Iranian business owners to concede the oil well to the organization. It also muscled its way into establishing control over Telecom Iran.
The IRGC's commercial and business empire was originally launched to exploit its construction experience from the 1980-88 war. It reportedly controls more than 100 different commercial enterprises producing items ranging from consumer goods and dentistry equipment to automobiles. It also controls several banks, seaports and airports outside the official purview of the government, through which it imports billions of dollars in products. The economic heart of the IRGC is Khatam ul-Anbiya, a huge construction company employing more than 55,000 members of the IRGC and Basij. It is a mixed conglomerate with 800 holdings and subcontractors and estimated annual sales of around $7 billion. Within a year of Ahmadinejad's taking office, Khatam-ol-Anbia won a $1.3 billion contract for a gas pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, edging out the Norwegian firm Kvaerner for developing part of the South Pars gas field. An IRGC-owned company, Sepasad, "won" a $1.2 billion no-bid contract to build a line of the Tehran subway. The IRGC has also established more than 500 offices of Iranian companies worldwide.35 This growth has derived in part from the gaps left by international firms pulling out due to UN and U.S. sanctions, especially in the energy sector. The sanctions imposed on Iran because of the nuclear controversy have only encouraged the IRGC to further spread its tentacles over the Iranian economy.
As Iran headed towards elections in June 2009, tensions again mounted as the IRGC and the Basij moved to ensure that Ahmadinejad would be re-elected. General Jafari, who was appointed the overall commander of the IRGC in September 2007, and Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, the head of the IRGC political directorate, suggested that the reformists wanted to come to power in order to undermine and overthrow the system. Before the June 12, 2009, presidential election, the IRGC harshly criticized Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the reformist candidates. The senior IRGC officers accused Mousavi and his supporters of presenting a pessimistic and defeatist view of Iran's future. Yadollah Javani returned to a growing obsession of the senior IRGC command, warning of a "velvet revolution," like the one that ousted the communist government in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Javani said the IRGC would crush a possible post-election attempt to foment such a revolution. The huge demonstrations that erupted after the rigged election were brutally crushed, as promised. What was jarring was the fact that reformists simply did not fade away after their electoral "defeat"; equally disturbing, many members of the IRGC and the Basij voted for the reformist party. There was a dawning recognition among senior IRGC officers that there was a deep chasm between two generations of IRGC and Basij personnel. The first generation, whose experiences were shaped by revolution and war, and the second generation have nothing in common.
The IRGC command began a poisonous information campaign against the reformists. They were now referred to as potentially treasonous because of their alleged links to "foreign powers." Even this became too much for Ayatollah Khamenei, who declared that he did not believe the reformist leaders had ties to foreign powers. The IRGC changed its approach, hinting that the goal of the highest-ranking reformists was ultimately to abolish the office of velayat-e-faqih. Outraged, the reformists demanded that the judiciary take action against General Jafari. They implored the supreme leader to ensure that the deepening politicization of the IRGC would be reversed.
The struggle with the reformists faded from the limelight as problems within the heart of the ruling elite itself took center stage between 2010 and 2012. After the tumult of Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election, Khamenei praised him as courageous, wise and hard-working, while advising him to listen to his critics as well. By October 2011, the relationship between the two men was poisonous. They were at odds over ministerial posts, subsidies, foreign relations, allegations of fraud and the presence of "deviant" political trends within the president's closest circle, and disrespect for the office of the supreme leader. Khamenei even floated a proposal to change the constitution to do away with a directly elected presidency altogether. Ahmadinejad dismissed it as impractical.
The IRGC high command found itself caught up in this schism within the ruling elite. Senior officers took the side of the supreme leader, as reflected in their arrest of several of Ahmadinejad's supporters and criticisms of the president for the country's political and economic woes. This, in turn, prompted Ahmadinejad to threaten to expose the illegal economic activities and corrupt practices of "certain" government institutions. The rift between Ahmedinejad and the IRGC senior command exposes how fragile that relationship really was, despite what has been said in the past. The president was never that close to the high command, most of whom are combat (infantry mainly) veterans of the war with Iraq. Ahmedinejad's closest links have been with the former engineers with whom he was closely connected. For the senior IRGC command, Khamenei represented legitimacy and stability, sorely needed as Iran faces a particularly dangerous time. What is left unsaid is that the high command is worried about the loyalty of the rank and file. They suspect that some are sympathetic to the reformist camp and others to Ahmadinejad and his "deviant" political trend, which stresses Iranian nationalism and seems to promote anti-clericalism. Senior officials and officers have expressed concern over threats posed by "unorthodox" religious movements and "deviant" political trends.
We have very little data available on this, but these unorthodox views seem to have gained some traction within the junior and middle-ranks of the IRGC, who have no knowledge of the heady days of the revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. Today's personnel are more affected by straitened economic circumstances and the profound sense of malaise pervading the society. In addition, Iran has been the traditional home of heterodox beliefs and sects, brutally suppressed by Zoroastrian, Sunni and Shia rulers during the course of the country's long history.
Internal Threats and Responses
The twin threats of internal instability and external attack have had a profound and dramatic impact on Iranian security doctrines during the course of the past decade.
The IRI fought back ruthlessly and defeated internal threats in the 1980s. Nonetheless, its internal-security forces began and continued to conduct intense urban warfare and counterterrorism drills on a regular basis after 1982. It now believes, correctly, that the internal threats have become more complex and multifaceted. In 2009, the IRGC increased its efforts to fight what it refers to as "soft threats," posed by outside powers. IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari stated in March 2009 that, as long as the people supported the system, "the enemy's threats will not have any use . . . wherever a threat to the Islamic system is seen, the IRGC will have a presence."36
Threats to internal security stem from the re-emergence of discontent in the peripheral provinces inhabited by Baluchis, Arabs and Kurds. Iran has traditionally had serious problems with its regions, due to insensitive centralization policies, alleged Persian cultural arrogance, and socioeconomic and political marginalization.37 In the early 1980s, the government was able to put down these manifestations of ethnic discontent, and little more was heard until discussions about ethnic minority rights began to recur in the 1990s after Mohammad Khatami's election. Then, after several years of relative quiet on the ethnic front, the IRI elite were stunned in the mid-2000s by the re-emergence of unrest in the Kurdish, Arab, Baluchi and even the traditionally stable Azeri regions. The complaints concerned the lack of economic development and modern infrastructure, continued political marginalization, and inadequate socioeconomic programs.
Each regional expression of discontent by itself is not a dire threat; taken together, they have alarmed the IRI ruling elite. They are now transnational, linked to neighboring states. The Kurdish upsurge draws inspiration from the accomplishments of the Iraqi Kurds. Similarly, Iran's Baluchis have drawn inspiration from the Baluchis in neighboring Pakistan. These transnational connections provide rebels with external sanctuaries. Discontent in the provinces threatens to become part of Iran's complicated relations with the wider region and the international community. Many (though not all) of the discontented are Sunnis, and Iran's suppression of them has poisoned relations with the wider Sunni world. From Iran's perspective, there is considerable scope for intrigue by foreign powers in Iran's internal affairs. Foreigners are thought to be encouraging rebellious groups in the provinces, though there is little hard open-source data on the matter.38
External Threats and Responses
The recent revisions in Iran's externally focused strategic doctrine have been driven by the lessons of the Iran-Iraq War and the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These were not reflected merely in books and journals, but also in the setting up of strategic research institutions and technical research centers at universities and polytechnics whose purpose is to design or modify weapons systems to meet changing doctrinal requirements. Efforts were quite limited and amateurish in the early 1990s. However, by the end of the decade, the lessons-learned centers had become more sophisticated in their analyses, an example being the Iranian Center for Doctrinal Studies at Imam Hossein University. Three factors account for this development. First, the field of Iranian defense analysis within civilian and military institutions has grown dramatically. Second, Iran began to engage in direct dialogue with countries that had potentially similar strategic problems with the United States: North Korea and China (one Iranian general stated that the United States viewed Iran and China as its biggest potential enemies). Third, U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan after 2001 and in Iraq (specifically the conventional campaign) accelerated the pace of Iranian military change at the cognitive, doctrinal and organizational levels.
If war breaks out in the Gulf between Iran and the United States, however, it will be as a result of the longstanding controversy over its nuclear program. The leader of the Islamic Revolution and the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, once reportedly referred to nuclear weapons in the early days of the republic as "instruments of the devil" that Iran would reject as inconsistent with its ethics and national security. Indeed, in the early days of the IRI there seemed to be no interest on the part of the new elite in the development of a nuclear-weapons capability. The nuclear infrastructure that Mohammad Reza Shah had so painstakingly begun to build in the 1970s was allowed to atrophy. Alarm over the IRI's aspirations in the nuclear field began in the early 1990s, shortly after the defeat of Iraq in Desert Storm, and has continued ever since.39 Moreover, the veiled threats by Israel to bomb Iranian facilities and the counter-threats by Iranian officials to retaliate started in the early 1990s, heightening Tehran's already acute paranoia. The stand-off over the Iranian nuclear program was at a critical juncture by 2012.
Iran's senior leadership and military command have chosen to adopt strategies of deterrence by denial — "we will deter you from attacking us through highlighting our capabilities" — and by threat — "we will retaliate and punish you with our capabilities if you attack us." When the IRI is discussed strategically in the West, it is often as the power that has to be deterred because it is anti-status quo and promotes an ideological message. Moreover, its government is a complex labyrinth of competing power blocs with ambiguous leadership. If we do not know who is in charge, whom can we deter? Of course, the Iranian nomenklatura is in charge, with Supreme Leader Khamenei at its head. The sub-elite that deals with high national-security matters does not include everyone. President Ahmadinejad, who barely has control over Iran's foreign policy, is not a key player in national security. Those who are, desperately try to convey to the outside world that Iran has the power to deter an attack and to punish one severely if it does take place.
Unsurprisingly, Iran has been issuing warnings against an attack on its territory, with increasing vehemence over the course of the past 10 years. In 2004, Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani threatened to respond decisively to any Israeli strike on Iran: "While we regard these Israeli threats as empty threats, nevertheless, in case such threats materialize we are prepared to take effective action, both to reduce the effect of the strikes, as well as turn it into an iron fist [in response], as a result of which the Israelis will have no security left anywhere in Israel."40 A year later, he stated unequivocally that Iran would retaliate for any U.S. or Israeli attack on its territory and installations. Iran, he said, "has specific and certain plans for responding to such kind of attacks. You will see what the response will be the day they do so."41
Iran realized a long time ago that its deterrent capabilities cannot be based solely or even primarily on conventional forces.42 The Iranian leadership and high command concluded that a rigidly conventional force structure based largely on an obsolescent arsenal would not work in the current threat environment, in which the only significant conventional threat is the United States. Moreover, this conventional force was under-equipped, consisting of highly trained units interspersed with those that had been neglected. In the words of Seyyed Morteza Musavi, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 41st Sarollah Division: "In view of the disparity which exists between us and some of our enemies as far as military equipment and weapons are concerned, our efforts are aimed at redressing this by forming small resistance groups capable of carrying out highly destructive maneuvers."43 Ground Forces commander General Ahmad Reza Purdestan is a staunch proponent of irregular warfare, stating in September 2009 that the Ground Forces have changed their "classic combat positions and are performing in an asymmetrical style."44 Greater emphasis was given to offensive small-unit and highly mobile forces, which were given the authority to continue operations on their own if command, control and communications with higher headquarters were interrupted.
To highlight its deterrent capabilities Iran also increased the size, tempo and regularity of its exercises. As tensions between Iran and the United States mounted over the nuclear controversy — and, of course, the issue of Iranian involvement in the American quagmire in neighboring Iraq — the IRI conducted extensive military maneuvers. The IRGC has held large-scale exercises intended to convey an unshakeable determination to the outside world of Iran's ability to deter enemies and defend itself. Many of these maneuvers highlighted the IRI's naval response capabilities in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. The latest exercises began in early 2012 and continued well into summer. The new military maneuvers came weeks after Iran rolled out its forces in an unprecedented display of military readiness, including highlighting its alleged capabilities to block the Straits of Hormuz. Iran also conducted war games to protect its nuclear installations against attack. In June 2012, its air force conducted a series of exercises with F-4s, F-14s, and Su-29s in the northwest along the border with Turkey; a set of aerial exercises clearly aimed at thwarting an Israeli aerial attack along that corridor. In July 2012, the emergent Ballistic Missile Command launched a barrage of missiles at "mock enemy bases" of "ultra-regional forces" (U.S. military forces) as part of drills dubbed "The Great Prophet 7."
The IRGC's overall combat effectiveness is open to question. A professional military exists and trains for one reason only: to fight effectively in defense of the national interest. The IRGC is not a professional fighting force, given the multitude of tasks and enterprises in which it is involved: politics, domestic law enforcement and economic enterprises. It was tasked with creating a separate surface-to-surface missile (SSM) command modeled on the Chinese PLA's 2nd Artillery Corps and the North Korean ballistic missile command. Iran's SSM is largely mobile; but it has apparently begun to consider creating a force based in stationary silos as well. It has set up a special command within the IRGC that is in charge of the nuclear program, security of the installations and educational facilities, and the security of scientists and engineers. Fighting a war against a foreign power, maintaining the security of vital infrastructure and its personnel, and ensuring internal stability might be too difficult for the IRGC, and it might crack. Moreover, it would not be surprising if morale were low. There is a growing gap between the nouveaux riches within the higher echelons of the IRGC and Basij and the ordinary rank and file. Political discontent has been expressed either in support for the reformist camp or in the rise of "unorthodox" religious sentiments. The government has responded by intensifying the ideological component of the training of the rank and file; but the effectiveness of this remains unclear. The regular army continues to maintain a conventional force structure that has not been adequately capitalized; Iran's acquisition of arms has not been sufficient to keep these forces up to date. Its conventional forces do include "islands of excellence," with units characterized by professionalism and high operational readiness (i.e., the 92nd Armored Division in the south). But islands of excellence do not produce a system of systems, required for sustained operations against serious enemies.
What if Iran's enemies become convinced of the weakness of its deterrence? Discussions in the West and in Israel today about Iran's capabilities are paradoxical: they highlight the serious threat but denigrate the IRI's potential power to resist a concerted military assault and retaliate effectively. Contrary to perceptions in the West, Iran is not seeking war. Of course, it wishes to continue to maximize its regional advantages through means short of war. The devastating conflict with Iraq set back its development efforts; a war with the United States would be far worse, possibly a regime changer. Unfortunately, only in case of war can we know whether Iran's capabilities are real, including the supposedly hidden ones that it is keeping as an unpleasant surprise for its enemies.
1 Jean-Pierre Digar, Bernard Hourcade and Yann Richard, L'Iran au XXe Siecle (Fayard, 1996), 97-98.
2 See M. Reza Ghods, "The Rise and Fall of General Razmara," Middle Eastern Studies 29, no. 1 (January 1993): 22-35.
3 Hossein Makki, 30 Tir (July 21, 1331/1952), Tehran: Bogah-e-Tarjomeh va Nashrketab, 1360/1980: 24.
4 Mark Gasiorowski, "The Qarani Affair and Iranian Politics," International Journal of Middle East Studies 25, no.4 (1993): 625-644.
5 Robert Graham, Iran: The Illusion of Power (Croom Helm, 1978), 181.
6 Nimah Mazaheri, "State Repression in the Iranian Bazaar, 1975-1977: The Anti-Profiteering Campaign and an Impending Revolution," Iranian Studies 39, no. 3 (September 2006): 401-414.
7 In Susan Merdinger, "A Race for Martyrdom: The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps" (master's thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, 1982), 9.
8Foreign Broadcast Information Service-Middle East and Africa (FBIS-MEA), February 12, 1979, I4.
9 FBIS-MEA, March 7, 1979, R6.
11 "Goftegu ba Sartip Farbod" (Interview with General Farbod), Keyhan, May 27, 1979, 5.
12 Susan Merdinger, "A Race for Martyrdom," 34.
13 Nabiollah Ruhi, "Military Role of Basij in Sacred Defense," Military Knowledge (Fall 1996): 163-164.
14 J.M. Durand-Soufflaud, "La participation de militaires à la repression au Kurdistan aggrave le malaise au sein de l'armée," Le Monde, May 21, 1980, 4.
15 Lieutenant Colonel A. Pavlov, "Iran's Ground Forces," Zarubezhnoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, no. 10 (October 1987), translated in Joint Publications Research Service-UFM-88-003, May 9, 1988, 13.
16 "31 October 1980 letter by Iranian President Abolhasan Bani-Sadr to Ayatollah Khomeini," Der Spiegel, January 12, 1981, 100-101.
17 John Kifner, "War Policy Is Issue in Political Struggle," International Herald Tribune, January 6, 1981, 1.
18Foreign Broadcasting Information Service-South Asia, June 15, 1981, I5-I6.
20 Arnold Hottinger, "Der iranische Feldzug in Khusistan," Neue Zurcher Zeitung, June 20-21, 1982, 6.
21 "Interview with Major General ‘Ali Shahbazi-Zolqadr," Keyhan International, September 29, 1996, 3.
22 John Cushman, "Revolutionary Guards Dominate Iranian Forces," International Herald Tribune, August 31, 1987, 4.
23 Anthony Tucker, "Iran's Armed Forces — Fought to a Standstill," Armed Forces 8, no.5 (May 1989): 206-209.
24 James Bruce, "Iran Rearms to Build Defence Forces," Jane's Defence Weekly, May 27, 1989, 1006-1007.
25 Mohammad Darudian, "Causes of Iraq's Invasion, Initial Failure," Journal of Defense Policy (Summer-Fall 1996): 59-90, FBIS-FTS19970718001543, August 8, 1997.
26 "Hashemi-Rafsanjani Comments on War, UN Session," Tehran Television Service, 1740 GMT, July 13, 1988, FBIS-NES-88-135, July 14, 1988, 39.
27 "Reportage on Meeting on Post-War Role," Tehran IRNA in English, 1728 GMT, September 15, 1988, FBIS-NES-88-180, September 16, 1988, 53.
28 FBIS-NES-88-206, October 25, 1988, 66.
29 James Bruce, "Iranians Take Step towards Merger," Jane's Defence Weekly, June 3, 1989.
30 "Revolutionary Guards Warn Khatami," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Iran Report 2, no. 30 (July 26, 1999).
31 "Iranian Military Warns Khatami," Stratfor Commentary, July 20, 1999, http://www.stratfor.com/MEAF/commentary/c9907201300.htm.
33 "General Ghaffari, Senior Commander of Province's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps [IRGC]: There is no difference between orders of Vali-ye-Faqih and those of Imam Zaman (Peace be upon Him) and Imam ‘Ali (Peace be upon Him)," Hadis-e-Qazvin, December 26, 1999, 1, 16, FBIS-NEA-SA, IAP2000223000012.
34 Some of the best analyses of recent Iranian civil-military relations, particularly of the growing political power of the IRGC, have been by Ali Alfoneh of the American Enterprise Institute and a series of articles by Iran experts put out by the Middle East Institute. I have relied heavily on all of them.
35 Dieter Bednarz and Erich Follath, "The Regime's Shadow Warriors: Revolutionary Guards Keep Stranglehold on Iran," Der Spiegel Online, February 16, 2010, http://planet-iran.com/index.php/news/10021.
36 Quoted in "Highlights: Iranian Military Developments, 6-12 March 2009," Open Source Center, IAP20090316739001 Iran – OSC Summary, March 9-12, 2009, https://www.opensource.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_200_240_….
37 For an extensive analysis of center-periphery relations in Iran, see Patricia Higgins, "Minority-State Relations in Contemporary Iran," Iranian Studies 17, no. 1 (1984): 37-71.
38 See Gilles Riaux, "Teheran et ses provinces," Outre-Terre, no. 28 (2011): 319-328.
39 Bill Gertz, "Iran Now Top Threat in Region," Washington Times, May 30, 1991, 1; and Jim Mann, "Iran's Nuclear Plans Worry U.S. Officials," Los Angeles Times, January 27, 1991.
40 "Minister of Defense; We Shall Respond to Any Threat with Iron Fist," Aftab-e-Yazd, October 4, 2005, 5.
41 Quoted in Hasan Fahs, "Shamkhani to Al-Hayah: We Are Ready for Any US or Israeli Attack," Al-Hayah, July 29, 2005, 7.
42 For extensive details see Ahmed S. Hashim, "The Evolution of Iranian Force Structure, Defense Planning and Doctrine" (forthcoming).
43 "Iranian Guard's Mission Evolves," Washington Times, March 19, 2007, 1.
44 "Analysis: Iran Aiming to Improve Armed Forces," Open Source Center, FEA20081125795571 Iran – OSC Analysis, November 24, 2008, https://www.opensource.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_200_0_51…%.