by Barry Rubin
For a couple of years it has been visible; for months the opposition has been talking about it. What's happening is the gradual takeover of a huge amount of power by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Iranian government has generally been radical since the revolution, 30 years ago. But now the most extremist faction of all has taken over, pushing out its rivals.
Of course, Spiritual Guide Ali Khamenei is the most powerful man in
This is important because the IRGC is the most fanatical and risk-taking part of the regime. It is very much committed to expanding the revolution and maintains the regime's links with foreign revolutionary and terrorist groups.
Oh, and it will also be the institution that will have actual possession of
Not only are these people nobody can make a deal with, but they are also the ones most likely to make a war some day.
The BBC reports that the IRGC now controls one-third of
Now the group has won a $2.5 billion contract to build a big railroad project. And the IRGC is taking control of intelligence, running key prisons, and taking custody of political prisoners.
This is one reason why foreign observers can underestimate the regime's stability. With the IRGC playing such a central role, so well-armed, united, and ready to fight, any serious threat of a revolution or internal collapse would be blocked, no matter how much bloodshed it takes. The opposition and those critical of the regime are also aware of that fact.
Another reason why this is important regards
Judging from his statements, President Obama seems to have the following picture of
One could argue this position two years, perhaps even a year ago. But it no longer applies. The Iranian regime has changed to become far more hardline and risk-taking.
My personal view is that Khamenei is preparing for his departure from the scene by putting the revolution into the hands of those who he trusts not to dilute it. While
That doesn't mean that
Do you think the Arab states will choose to appease
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
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