Now what does the structure of the IRGC tell us? In this Iran Focus Article of 20 AUG 2005 we learn a bit on that internal structure:
Tehran, Iran, Aug. 20 – Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered on Saturday a key change in the high command of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in a move that will have far-reaching consequences for the country’s military strategy.The IRGC, then, has been re-ordered to be the predominant military organization ahead of the National Army, is under the direct control of Ayatollah Khamenei and has leadership that helped to *elect* the current President of Iran, Ahmadinejad. This consolidation of power makes it very, very unlikely that there are any rogue elements within the IRGC as they are under strict guidance from their CinC and Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei. Those that would take actions contrary to those of the regime would be punished, not rewarded by the regime. And probably in a lethal manner.
Khamenei, acting in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, put Brigadier General Mohammad-Ali (Aziz) Jaafari in charge of forming “the IRGC centre for strategy”.
Jaafari, who has been commander of the IRGC Ground Forces, was replaced by another Revolutionary Guards brigadier general, Ahmad Kazemi. Kazemi has been commander of the IRGC Air Force. No replacement for Kazemi has yet been named.
In an article on August 4, Iran Focus divulged the Iranian leaders’ plans to set up a “centre for strategy” for the IRGC and Khamenei’s decision to name Jaafari as its founder.
In his decree, Khamenei called on Jaafari to “identify and propose key individuals and scientists in the Revolutionary Guards for membership in this important centre”.
The appointments, which are expected to be followed by more changes in the IRGC command, were recommended by Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the commander of the IRGC.
The idea for the creation of the new centre for strategy came from Khamenei himself, who regularly receives the top IRGC commanders and closely follows their activities. He had asked Safavi and his commanders to devise a new command structure and military strategy for the IRGC that would give the elite military force unlimited access to national resources and absolute priority over the regular army in case of a foreign military confrontation.
Brigadier General Jaafari’s new centre will draw up the new strategy and implement the necessary changes to ensure rapid and efficient transformation of the country’s civilian infrastructure and resources to military footing under the control of the IRGC.
In his new position, Jaafari will be working closely with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two men are close friends and veterans of the Revolutionary Guards.
The changes in the IRGC high command will strengthen the position of Rahim Safavi and his deputy, Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr. Both men are fiercely loyal to Khamenei and played a crucial role in the election of Ahmadinejad.
On 10 DEC 2005 there is this article in the Asian Times which would indicate that a new method of moving against foreign military organizations and States was found as seen in the Badr organization:
The elections scheduled for December 15 are seen as a perfect opportunity by the Americans and their main ally in Iraq, former premier Iyad Allawi, to curtail the electoral clout of SCIRI and other Shi'ite organizations and personalities, including Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi. The "discovery" of the secret detention center and the sensational reporting that followed is part of this American-led electoral strategy.From that the Badr organization became a wing of the IRGC, although militarily ineffective, it has served as a means and method for the IRGC to flex power in Iraq. This is done through trying to splinter the conception of a unified security structure in Iraq via the Badr organization and its adherents. By being able to have a place in the ruling coalition, this would give Iran influence, although nominal, in the Iraqi government. By using the Badr organization and, more loosely, the Sadrist Mahdi Army, Iran would then seek to impose itself in Iraq via covert means.
In the security field, though, there are unlikely to be any changes to the way the Shi'ite-dominated security forces conduct the war against the Arab Sunni guerrilla movement and the Salafi-jihadi extremists. However, the events of the past month have highlighted a potentially fatal long-term flaw in the development of new Iraqi security forces, and that is the emergence of two separate security/intelligence structures: one which is entirely overseen by the Americans, and the other entirely led by Shi'ite Islamists with strong ties to Iran.
The Badr Organization
As the Interior Ministry detention center, where about 170 prisoners were being held, was allegedly controlled by elements either belonging to or strongly connected to the Badr Organization, it is worthwhile examining the emergence and evolution of this paramilitary and security organization.
The Badr Organization is the armed wing of the SCIRI, which was formed in November 1982 in Tehran.  Under the tutelage of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), SCIRI established a military wing in 1983, called the Badr Brigade. This force quickly grew into a full-fledged corps and joined regular IRGC forces on the front lines during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Some of how this works is seen in the following from that Asia Times article:
The relationship between the Badr and the IRGC has been the subject of much disinformation, exaggeration and misreporting. While there is no doubt that the Badr was partly created by the IRGC and sustained by it in the early years, the relationship was downgraded after the formal ending of the Iran-Iraq War in August 1988. One myth that has been sustained throughout these years, mainly by the former Ba'ath regime and its loyalists, is that the Badr was completely subordinate to the IRGC command structure.This is not solely an Iraqi problem, but is seen endemically throughout the Middle East - corruption and 'looking the other way' for pay and even being in the pay of foreigners is not unusual in that region. This connection, in the pre-war times, would allow for money to be filtered into Lebanon and Syria, thus decentralizing the pay structure and distributing it to lessen attention to it.
It is alleged that the organization's real name was the "9th Badr Corps", indicating that it belonged to a chain of specialized IRGC units. These include the "2nd Qods [Jerusalem] Corps", the IRGC'S ultra-clandestine and highly effective special operations and foreign intelligence unit.
For their part, the SCIRI and the Badr vehemently deny strong association with the IRGC. This is, at best, a half-truth. While the Badr was never subordinate to the IRGC in a formal organizational sense, it was heavily reliant on the latter for funding, arms, training and even infiltration into Iraq.
Moreover, virtually every facility used by the SCIRI and the Badr in Iran from 1982-2003 was either wholly owned by the IRGC or in some ways connected to it. In terms of funding there is reliable evidence that the salaries of some full-time Badr personnel were paid by the IRGC's central accounting department.
According to a reliable military journalist in Tehran, the pay slips would be issued in nine-digit formats, complying with the IRGC's accounting and encryption system for those employees and agents whose identities needed to remain concealed, even to the IRGC's internal auditors. The funds would either be deposited in Iranian banks, or in some cases Badr personnel would be paid in US dollars. Fake charities were set up to launder the funds. These would be deposited in the Swiss subsidiary of Mebco, a small bank owned by Chalabi. Mebco had its banking license withdrawn by the Swiss federal banking commission in April 1989. Funds would also be deposited in Chalabi-owned banks and other financial institutions in Beirut.
From the post-Gulf War to the present the relationship changed and deepened:
The relationship between the IRGC and the Badr underwent further changes in 1992. Several front organizations were created to put further administrative and operational distance between the two and ultimately enable Badr's fighting forces to gain full independence.While trying to gain a modicum of operational independence the Badr organization found that it could not properly counter the Saddam regime via military action. Iranian investment in covert activities and INTEL gathering changed the outlook of the Badr organization and brought it more tightly into the fold of the IRGC. By having some operational coherence and operating with SCIRI, the Badr organization posed a vexing problem for the Coalition during the invasion - go after it forcefully and you leave the path open for chaos and terrorist infiltration, leave it alone and Iran has ability to move influence into high levels.
This worked, as by early 2003 the operational links between Badr fighting forces and the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) had become tenuous. But a parallel development ensured that Badr maintained its links with the IRGC. The changes in 1992 were, in part, prompted by Badr's dismal performance in the March-April 1991 Safar intifada against Saddam Hussein's regime.
There was a realization that Badr could never hope to pose a serious military challenge to the (former) Iraqi regime and instead needed to develop strong security and intelligence capabilities, which would enable it to operate clandestinely inside Iraq. It was at this juncture that the Badr developed a distinct security/intelligence unit that was trained by and operated under the guidelines of the IRGC's Qods Corps.
This latter path was chosen and had some grave consequences to it:
Badr in IraqThis would set the stage for the Riverine campaign the following year which would start to uproot the Badr connections all the way to Tal Afar. That entire Western sector campaign through 2006 demonstrated to the local tribes that Iranian backed Shia insurgents would not get a foothold to institute a wider set of attacks on Sunni Arabs. What this did is removed Iranian influence and money from that area, although it left the Syrian based supply lines open and the infiltration of al Qaeda. What has also been seen is a high rejection rate of Badr operatives to join up with the Iraqi Security and Police forces. SCIRI has had some acrimony over that, but the conception put in by Western trained security and police organizations is that possible bad operatives should be screened out so as to lessen corruption from the beginning. That does not mean that corruption goes away, and the endemic nature of it as a social concept in the Middle East guarantees its presence.
It is widely believed that on the eve of the invasion of Iraq the Badr Corps controlled around 10,000-15,000 fighters, 3,000 of whom were professionally trained (many of these being Iraqi Army defectors and former prisoners of war). However, the core of the Badr fighting forces was composed of about 1,500 ideologically-committed combatants who had spent nearly two decades working alongside the IRGC.
Immediately after the fall of Baghdad, the Badr Corps moved into Iraq from the central sector, independent of SCIRI personnel who entered Iraq mostly from the south. The Badr established an initial presence in Diyala province, arguably Iraq's most strategic region, given its proximity to Iran and its mixed Shi'ite and Sunni population.
The US authorities applied great pressure on the Badr Corps to disarm in the early months of the occupation. Consequently the Badr Corps was renamed the Badr Organization, but it did not fully disarm. In any case, the disarmament process was reversed after the assassination of the SCIRI's founding leader, Ayatollah Baqir al-Hakim, in August 2003, after which the Americans readily accepted that the SCIRI needed an armed component to protect its assets in the deteriorating security situation.
From early 2004 onwards, when coalition efforts to develop new Iraqi military and security structures started in earnest, the Badr Organization (which now claimed to be operating independently from the SCIRI) tried to place its most competent officers and fighters inside the new security organs. But these efforts were thwarted both by American officers and former Ba'athist security personnel, who saw the Badr as an extension of the IRGC in Iraq.
The Badr was sidelined during the tenure of Allawi's government (July 2004-April 2005), as the neo-Ba'athists in that administration, particularly the defense minister, Hazem Shaalan, the interior minister, Faleh al-Naquib, and the intelligence chief, Mohammad Shahwani, applied maximum pressure on the Americans to deny Badr access to government resources. The Allawi government proved to be the most serious mistake in post-war Iraq, as evidenced by the biggest fraud scandal in Iraqi history, which was allegedly masterminded by Shaalan and other senior figures in the Defense Ministry.
To their credit, the Americans, mindful of the incompetence of Allawi and his crooked ministers and advisors, refused to disarm and dissolve the Badr, as was repeatedly requested by Shaalan's office. In fact as the insurgency situation deteriorated sharply in late 2004, the Americans decided to involve the Badr in official security planning and counter-insurgency operations. This set the stage for the entry of Badr personnel and agents into the defense and interior ministries.
The situation changed dramatically after this January's elections, which resulted in a massive victory by the SCIRI and its allies, and which led to the creation of the Ibrahim Jaafari government in April. From the very early days of the Jaafari government, the Badr was given virtual control over the Interior Ministry, with Bayan Jabr (a former Badr Corps commander and SCIRI leader) being appointed the interior minister.
This enabled the Badr to capture the top positions at the ministry and exert significant influence on counter-insurgency planning and operations. The Badr set up new counter-insurgency units, which are widely regarded as the most motivated and effective components of the new Iraqi security forces.
What further happened due to the Riverine and Central campaigns, however, is the Badr organization slowly forced south and into more areas controlled by the UK in and around Basra. The complaints about corrupt police there have been much higher than elsewhere in Iraq and that is seen as a direct influence of Iran in that area.
Such an organization to keep internal alignment and coherence is unlikely, in the extreme, to have 'rogue units'. The ability to adhere to ideology and backing that for the IRGC are litmus tests and failure in those is not something that the regime would reward. What is worrying is that the IRGC has the entire nuclear industry under its control and other WMD development areas, too. That mixing of power with ability to back it then brings into question if the IRGC, which is very extremist in outlook, would find the current regime to be unsatisfactory to *it* as not being extreme enough. This question was looked at by Patrick Devenny in a 23 AUG 2005 article at FrontPageMagazine.com entitled Iran's Most Radical Regime. When Ahmadinejad came to power, as seen above, he not only brought in closely allied friends, but ones that were more radical in outlook:
Since taking office two weeks ago, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has wasted little time in molding the Iranian government in his own extremist image, a process which started with last week’s appointment of Ali Larijani as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Larijani, a former commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and a close advisor to Ahmadinejad, possesses impeccable extremist credentials and is a favorite of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Supposedly a diplomat, Larijani is evidently not a fan of tactful parlance, recently declaring, “We have bloodthirsty foes like the United States and Israel who could attack us with all they have. So, why should we deny ourselves any category of weapons just to please the savage European powers?”For those looking for enlightened outlook from the IRGC or the ability to operate independently of the regime, do keep in mind the high level of connectivity to the regime via the leaders they have installed. The elevation of hard-liners in multiple positions throughout the government in order to bring the government into line with the regime, then moves the hard liners out from marginal status to high status and control.
In particular the IRGC has been the bloody enforcer of the regime since the start, and continued that throughout its history to the present day. Mr. Devenny explains it like this:
To understand the disquieting dimensions of the IRGC’s genesis, one need only look at their organizational history, a past replete with murder, oppression, and terrorism. Beginning in 1979, the IRGC became the Khomeini regime’s chief ideological enforcer, executing dissidents and torturing opponents. Their charge as protectors of the revolution was enshrined in Article 150 of the Iranian Constitution, which gives the IRGC the responsibility of maintaining Iran’s religious nature and spirit. Officers such as a young Mahmud Ahmadinejad (who joined the IRGC in 1980) took to their guardian of the revolution role with fanatical devotion, setting up an extensive secret police force that quickly stamped out any remaining opposition to Khomeini’s totalitarian regime. Their instruments included prison facilities such as Evin prison in Tehran, where hundreds of regime opponents, real or imagined, were tortured and shot by IRGC officers.The IRGC is a main organizer of repression, torture, murder and, via the Basij, was the one that herded children through minefields during the Iran-Iraq war. The Basij are also the religious police who enforce such things as workplace dress codes and ensure that the proper 'moral climate' is kept via beatings, imprisonment, torture, murder and 'disappearing' individuals off the streets. The IRGC, Special Guards (secret police organizations), Basij and hired thugs from various insurgent groups in central asia, puts the entire Nation under authoritarian rule that would make the KGB look good in comparison.
The IRGC’s domestic security role also entails a responsibility to provide Iranian civilians with military training. This effort has led to the formation of the “Baseej,” a 4.5 million man paramilitary militia which has stood in violent opposition against reformist forces throughout the country. Baseej members – at the behest of their IRGC officers - were extremely active in combating the urban unrest that occurred under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. The militia was often observed beating protestors with clubs, raiding college dorm buildings, and destroying opposition media outlets. The IRGC-Baseej devotion to the existing order in Iran has continued to this day, as their street muscle proved instrumental in turning out a sufficient amount of support for Ahmadinejad, while simultaneously threatening reform-minded voters.
The IRGC has never been content with simply fighting subversive forces within Iranian borders; Article 154 of the Iranian constitution charges the IRGC with aiding the “oppressed” people of the world. This innocuous assignment has served as the justification for the IRGC’s longstanding and deep ties with terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, and Iraqi terrorists. Hundreds of IRGC soldiers are currently stationed in Lebanon alongside Hezbollah terrorists, where they operate massive training camps and supervise the expansion of Hezbollah’s rocket force. Through the IRGC’s “Al-Quds” unit, Iranian officers have planned and coordinated numerous international terrorist attacks, including the 1994 attack on a Jewish target in Buenos Aires which resulted in 86 deaths. When Al-Qaeda leaders such as Saif al-Adel fled Afghanistan for Iran in late 2001, they were greeted and protected by IRGC officers. In Iraq, according to the latest issue of Time Magazine, the IRGC currently controls a sophisticated terrorist network of at least 280 agents and assassins which has murdered hundreds of Iraqi civilians, as well as an increasing number of coalition troops. With such a heinous past, it is no wonder the IRGC’s increasing power inside Iran disturbs opponents of the Tehran regime.
What this has done is start to put into question just 'who is controlling whom?' with regard to the IRGC. The movement to bring it under stronger control by the clerics, and particularly Khameini, may be more than consolidation of power, but an attempt to ensure that the power is controlled by the clerics:
With their societal and economic infrastructure in place, IRGC leaders have felt increasingly comfortable in taking high-level appointments and pushing for increased powers and authority. The 290-seat Majlis includes over 70 former or active IRGC officers, even though corps officers are forbidden by clerical law to hold such political offices. Dozens of mayors, provincial governors and deputy ministers also owe their allegiance to the IRGC. Most of Iran’s critical overseas missions in cities such as Kabul and Baghdad are not run by the foreign ministry, but by the guards. With this augmented political weight, the IRGC has successfully lobbied the ruling clerics for additional powers. Just two weeks ago, Ayatollah Khamenei finally gave in to several familiar IRGC requests, granting them total control over Iran’s military infrastructure and natural resources during times of war.It is interesting to note that a regime so bent on bringing a Nation under a religion and removing the concept of Nation State may have put in jeopardy its own capability to exist under an Islamic Fundamentalist military organization of its own creation. So what is at first seen as an attempt to bring consolidation and accountability to the IRGC is, in point of fact, a power grab inside Iran to marginalize the other organs of government TO the IRGC.
Solidifying the IRGC’s influence within the Iranian power structure is its stewardship of Iran’s most valuable asset – its nuclear program. On the orders of Ayatollah Khamenei, all nuclear related activities – both covert and overt – have been placed under the command of the IRGC. The centerpiece of their efforts is the sprawling Malek Ashtar Industrial complex in Tehran, which the IRGC has operated since 1986. Recently expanded, the complex is tasked primarily with the construction of nuclear centrifuges, a mission overseen by IRGC nuclear scientists. In November 2004, sensitive nuclear technology that had been under the control of the armed forces was transferred to the IRGC and installed in the Malek complex, without explanation. IRGC General Jaafari Sahraroudi, considered to be President Ahmadinejad’s closest advisor, has been tapped to personally oversee coordination between the IRGC’s development program and other ongoing Iranian nuclear efforts.
At the heart of the IRGC’s overall mission is the protection of the nation’s clerical leadership. IRGC leaders are directly accountable to Khamenei himself, and some are known to be fanatically loyal to his personage. That said, as the organization’s power and influence grows, its abject loyalty to Khamenei and his ruling Guardian Council becomes more and more tenuous. Khamenei has repeatedly warned the IRGC against political involvement, cautioning the corps to avoid becoming an active political force within the Iranian polity. Such strictures have always been quietly ignored by the IRGC leadership, but this disobedience has increased in recent years. Turf battles between the IRGC and those close to Khamenei have already erupted over various doctrinal and economic issues.
The question isn't about 'rogue operations' by the IRGC as it has slowly gathered the entire military and civil control authority under its purview. And while loyal to the regime, there is a movement to be even more fanatical, as the regime, itself, is not setting goals up that satisfy those in the IRGC. The IRGC, by being the 'guardians of the revolution' do not like ANY backsliding from that revolution and hold up the perfection of that outlook to the regime. There are some indications that the regime is not coming off well in that comparison:
Indicating a further strain in the relationship between the clerics and their guardians is the willingness of many in the IRGC to express their frustration with what they see as the corruption of the mullahs, a complaint popular among ordinary Iranians. They have followed up on this appealing rhetoric by setting up hundreds of community clinics and recruitment centers, actions dictated by their nationalist ideology which advocates spreading the fruits of the revolution to the masses, not just the theocratic elite. Such faux populism stands in stark opposition to the exclusive oligarchy status long coveted by the mullahs. While the IRGC should not be expected to formally take the reins of power anytime soon, their powerful role should ensure that other sectors of the Iranian leadership will consistently accede to their wishes. Khamenei, who has little public support and is increasingly an outcast among the ruling clerics, now relies heavily on his guardians in the IRGC. The man whose word was once considered holy writ in Iran now relies on his former bodyguards for legitimacy, a somewhat fragile agreement that the IRGC can be expected to take advantage of.That is a traditional juxtaposition of Nationalism with religious extremism against clerical extremism looking to end Nations by bringing all Nations into Islamic control. From this the IRGC is utilizing its authoritarian power to enhance its prospects by slowly fomenting unrest via rhetoric and coercion. While still cracking down on outright rebellion, the move is to cleave the people of Iran from formless, Stateless Islamic Empire to that of Islamic Fascism with a harsh military element and expansionism of the State. Mr. Devenny also puts forward that not only are the means of power coming to the hands of the IRGC, but that the IRGC members are better educated than the mullahs and have a better grasp of how to utilize the power of the Nation State to extremist ends. Here the age-cohort of the original clerics is a strike against them as they have no ready successors to their power. And the Nationalist version of Islamic Fascism being put forward by the IRGC is far more destructive than the revolutionary version as that had little want for Nations, instead seeing them as an obstacle to Islamic Empire. Contrarily the IRGC sees Nations as the stepping stone to Empire, and degrade other Nation States to make them easier targets to get radical Islam in place and then further that with Fascistic Allegiance as such groups grow in power.
This does bring into proper perspective the earlier article of mine looking at the Hezbollah organizations as 'Foreign Legions of Iran'. For the money has not been going, by and large, into the National Army nor even IRGC in Iran for training and equipment, but has been spent smuggling in lots of equipment to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iraq, being between the IRGC and expansion is thus gone around by using Syria as a willing Ally to help spread the force structure of Iran against Lebanon and Israel. Using Syria as a WMD development center makes good sense, militarily, to put such in a Nation that is technically competent, but seen as an economic basket case. Perhaps the IRGC thinks that Syria can be brought to heel by them or that common cause with the Ba'athists there will continue until the IRGC is strong enough to deal with Syria. What they forget is that Ba'athism, being old line Fascism, is more than willing to use fools as tools, and then kill them from behind when their utility is at an end. Because Syria has little want of Islamic Fascism, preferring the good, old fashioned kind of straight, raw power, undiluted by obedience to anyone, save themselves.
Seen in this light the work of this past week against the UK may, in actuality, not be something mullah sanctioned. But it most definitely *was* fully done and gladly by the IRGC. For it is no longer the 'rogue': it is the true power in Iran. And the mullahs had best watch out that they are not being considered as the 'rogues' to the IRGC.
And as Fascistic regimes tend to elevate one man or a small council to supreme power, the question of how much longer the regime will serve that purpose is one that is brought forward by this incident. Because no matter how bad things are inside Iran now, they would be far, far worse with a *competent* Fascistic leadership.