الكبير: من هم "الحرس الثوري
الذي يسيطر عليهم؟
الانديبندنت - 27/3/2007
Big Question: What is the Iranian Revolutionary
and who controls them?
By Angus McDowall in
Why ask this now?
When two British boats with 15 Royal Navy personnel were seized by
Representing a power block in
There is a precedent, too. When British servicemen were captured in the
summer of 2004, it was widely interpreted as an exercise
in muscle-flexing by the guards, who wanted to show
Who are the guards?
Known in Persian as the Pasdaran, the guards emerged from the tumult of
Senior commanders are still mostly seen as ideological hawks. When students
demonstrated in 1999, top guardsmen signed a letter
threatening a coup if the reformist president Mohammed
Khatami failed to rein them in. But there are signs the
rank and file are less politically hardline, with some
reports suggesting the majority of them actually voted
for Mr Khatami.
How strong are they?
The guards number up to 150,000 and are armed with the best weapons the
Islamic republic can buy. By comparison, the
conventional army has 300,000 troops but is ill-paid and
less well-equipped. The guards have a naval force of
20,000 men designed to undertake amphibious guerrilla
operations. They are also believed to operate
A large militia, known as the Basij, is directed by the revolutionary
guards. With several million recruits of all ages and
both sexes, it was known in the war for its ideological
fervour and blind courage. Today it organises pro-regime
demonstrations and violently breaks up anti-government
protests. Membership can help ease applications for
government jobs and places at university.
Who do they answer to?
During the Iran-Iraq war, when Khamenei was president, he worked closely
with the guards and developed personal relationships
with its top leaders. But it has never been clear how
close an interest he takes in tactical decisions. It is
also uncertain how far commanders who disagree with his
policies are able to push their own ideas or take
unsanctioned, independent action.
The top Pasdaran commander, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, is reported to
have strongly criticised talks with
Is their importance growing?
Since the revolution,
In presidential elections the following year, three candidates had close
connections to the guards, including the mayor of
Since taking office, political rivals have accused him of militarising the
government. Certainly, many of his cabinet appointees
come from the guards and he has awarded enormous
contracts worth billions of pounds to engineering
companies run by them.
What have they got against
As the confrontation between
Accusations of interference in
And with the nuclear crisis growing worse, the guards have come under
sanction. Under a UN resolution co-sponsored by
What's happening to the servicemen now?
British diplomats have been told the servicemen are in good health and are
being treated well.
The Iranians have so far denied access to the servicemen and will not even
confirm a report on Saturday that they had been
Will the British servicemen be released soon?
* Iranian media have played down the incident, creating some room to back
* The Iraqi government has said that the boats were in their waters, not in
* Iranian pragmatists have become more important in recent months and might
counsel a swift solution
* Top officials have said the servicemen could be charged which might
* Revolutionary Guards are angry at what they see as recent American
escalation of involvement in
* Some factions might see the servicemen as bargaining chips for other
لهذه المقالات لا يعني أنها
تعبر عن وجهة نظر المركز كلياً
من حق الزائر الكريم أن ينقل وأن ينشر كل ما يعجبه من موقعنا . معزواً إلينا ، أو غير معزو .ـ