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Who represents the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran’s factional politics?

Brigadier-General Yadollah Javani , the head of the IRGC's political bureau

Brigadier-General Yadollah Javani , the head of the IRGC’s political bureau

Source: Sobh-e SadeqDate: 12 September 2011

In an important front-page article titled “The IRGC, Principalism and Principalists” on Sobh-e Sadeq (IRGC mouthpiece), head of the organization’s Political Bureau, Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, addressed two main issues of concern for the IRGC. Specifically, Javani explained that given the project of Sepah-harasi (IRGC-phobia) being established in the region, it was critical that the Guards clarify their position on domestic politics:

“Given that in the current period we are confronted with the heavy assault of foreign enemies against the IRGC, and that the IRGC-phobia project has begun in a calculated manner, and satellite stations and Internet sites with the financial support of the hegemonic power [referring to the United States] have begun smearing the IRGC, clarifying the IRGC’s position on [domestic] political currents has taken on greater urgency than before.”

He went on to outline the IRGC’s approach to Iran’s domestic politics, and gave several important hints about who it may favour:

“The reality is that the IRGC’s position toward any current, party, group and politician…is directly related to the position they have toward the revolution and the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic…Clearly this kind of position from the IRGC is rooted in the IRGC’s guardianship of the Islamic Revolution and its achievements.”

“The position of the IRGC toward the Principalists and the Revisionists [referring to the Reformists] is based on this [approach]. It was on this basis that with the appearance of the deviant current [referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and his circle] in the government, whose discourse was different than that of the Islamic Revolution, the IRGC showed a reaction. Thus it can be said that in Iran’s political space, the IRGC on the one hand supports one discourse, and that is the discourse of the Islamic Revolution, and on the other hand is against other deviant discourses. Under current circumstances, the supporters of the Islamic Revolution are known by the Principalist label, Principalists who in the shape of parties, groups, organizations, and political personalities have been divided into several factions and as a result of differences of opinion or tastes sometimes also compete with one another… In this circumstance currents, parties and political groups who are compatible with the discourse of the Islamic Revolution are naturally aligned with the IRGC, and this alignment does not take away from the IRGC’s independence.”

Editor’s note: In order to assert itself more strongly in the context of the upcoming 2012 Majlis election, the IRGC’s senior leadership through Javani has very clearly taken sides in Iran’s domestic politics. Excluding Reformists and Mashaei outright, Javani focuses on the Principalists as representing the interests and vision of the IRGC. While implying that there are differences within the Principalists, he does not specify which group the Guards favour.

The IRGC more and more is the determining voice of affairs in Iran. While the organization has taken a more visible role in the economy, it has also worked behind the scenes to manipulate Iranian politics. Based on our previous analysis it may be possible to see who the Guards will favour in the upcoming election, and thus who may win the battle currently ongoing within the Principalist faction.

As we showed before, the Principalist Unity Committee/Seven+Eight Committee, which was supposed to co-ordinate the Principalist strategy for the election, was dead on arrival thanks to the creation of a pro-Ahmadinejad named the Persevering Front of the Islamic Revolution. Ahmadinejad, as we’ve mentioned, has been so staunchly pro-IRGC that on 26 July 2011 he appointed the commander of the IRGC’s economic arm, Rostam Ghasemi, to the tremendously important Ministry of Oil position. Given the weakness of other Principalist groups, and the steadfastness with which Ahmadinejad has backed the Guards, it would not come as a surprise if the IRGC openly or tacitly supported the Persevering Front’s candidates in the election against the rest of the Principalists, Reformists, and Mashaei’s circle.