728 x 90

Understanding the change of guards in Iran’s IRGC

Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)
Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)

Analysis by PMOI/MEK


April 23, 2019 - On April 21, Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the regime ruling Iran, sacked Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) chief Mohammad Ali Jafari and appointed his deputy, Hossein Salami, as his successor, sending shockwaves among all Iran observers.

The question is why the sudden change and why has Jafari – in contrast to all previous such episodes – been appointed to a cultural role that is considered completely non-significant in Iran? What are Khamenei’s intentions from this reshuffle and why did he resort to such a drastic transition in such a dire circumstance?

The IRGC’s ranks and files are experiencing drastic turmoil following the U.S. State Department’s recent decision to designate the force as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Such a reshuffle at the top for this terrorist entity signals severe weaknesses among its senior ranks. This further proves how the FTO designation has delivered a severe blow to the IRGC and the entire regime apparatus. And Jafari’s sacking and his appointment to a cultural role is humiliating and signals a devastating setback for the entire IRGC.

This reshuffle is taking place in the middle of a rigorous battle between Tehran and the pressures being increased on a daily basis by Washington. It is worth noting that two years ago, Khamenei had issued a ruling extending Jafari’s ten-year tenure for another three years. However, with another year left, this sacking becomes even more important.


Jafari’s role

Mohammad Ali Jafari served as the IRGC commander-in-chief for the past 12 years and was considered an image of the regime’s strategy in recent years. The IRGC is specifically missioned to protect the mullahs’ apparatus and protecting the borders is the army’s responsibility. Under Jafari, the IRGC has specifically focused on domestic crackdown and exporting terrorism abroad. The IRGC’s general hierarchy across the country witnessed severe changes, with new provincial corps and Basij paramilitary units launched. All these developments came under Khamenei’s new strategy to increase the IRGC’s crackdown ability against the entire Iranian population, while also entering non-conventional warfare abroad.

With Jafari calling it quits, signs are that this sacking has broader implications, indicating signs of significant crises at the top of the mullahs’ apparatus. Inside Iran, the IRGC has lost its previous posture and Iranian people and their growing protests have the upper hand. Iran’s development across the region is reaching a dead-end and the FTO designation is pushing this defeat into a major strategic setback.


Salami, the successor

Jafari’s role for the regime could be evaluated in the mission bestowed upon him. Hossein Salami, his successor, however, has been quite the opposite and only considered a propaganda tool.

During the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, Salami was a low-grade officer in the logistics and training branch of two different IRGC divisions. He was, however, very much involved in the IRGC massacre of Iranian Kurds and raids targeting dissident youths in Tehran. All the while, he was nothing in comparison to other senior IRGC members who are now serving under his command.

Salami also played a role during the 2009 uprising crackdown. Years later, following attacks against members of the Iranian opposition group People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) then stationed in Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Salami resorted to saber-rattling and lies. All his claims were easily debunked by the PMOI/MEK’s revelations.

Khamenei appointing Salami to this position shows he needs propaganda more than ever before as crises are engulfing his regime more than ever. Interesting how the regime’s own state-run media showed little attention to Salami’s appointment, further suggesting the fire simmering within the mullahs’ apparatus.

This reshuffle for the IRGC has important messages for the Iranian people and PMOI/MEK supporters.

Firstly, as a result of the perseverance witnessed in PMOI/MEK Resistance Units, the IRGC’s policy of creating a climate of fear inside Iran has been defeated. Due to ongoing revelations by the PMOI/MEK on the international stage focused on shedding light on the IRGC’s activities, the mullahs’ warmongering policies are also facing a major setback.

Secondly, with the IRGC weakening like never before, the sounds of this regime’s overthrow are being heard louder and louder.