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SWJED
02-15-2007, 11:20 AM
15 February LA Times - Iran's Elite and Mysterious Fighters (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-quds15feb15,1,7977308.story?coll=la-headlines-world) by Borzou Daragahi and Peter Spiegel.


Among the myriad military and intelligence agencies that make up Iran's security forces, none has the skill and reach of the Quds Force, an elite unit nominally within the command structure of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Like the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force and its predecessors were among the semiofficial militias, charities and centers of clerical power born of the paranoia and zeal of the tumultuous years after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power...

The Revolutionary Guard was entrusted to protect Khomeini's theocracy. But the revolutionaries also were inspired to spread their vision abroad.

The Quds Force and its predecessors consisted of the Guard's most skilled warriors. Experts said they were highly secretive commando units sent abroad to help Shiites usurp monarchies in the Persian Gulf, gun down enemies and battle Israeli forces in southern Lebanon. They also reportedly have run operations in Sudan, South Asia and Western Europe...

The Quds Force also has been involved in Iraq. It assisted Kurdish rebels fighting Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and Shiites battling his regime in the 1990s. Even Ahmad Chalabi's expatriate Iraqi National Congress had Quds Force help, experts say.

At most, the force numbers 2,000, said Mahan Abedin, director of research at the Center for the Study of Terrorism, a London think tank...

The extent to which the Quds Force is controlled by the government has been hotly debated in U.S. foreign policy circles...

SWJED
02-15-2007, 09:56 PM
15 February AP - Elite Iranian Corps Enmeshed in Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/15/AR2007021500950.html) by Lee Keath.


Iran's secretive Quds Force, accused by the United States of arming Iraqi militants with deadly bomb-making material, has built up an extensive network in the war-torn country, recruiting Iraqis and supporting not only Shiite militias but also Shiites allied with Washington.

Still unclear, however, is how closely Iran's top leadership is directing the Quds Force's operations -- and whether Iran has intended for its help to Shiite militias to be turned against U.S. forces.

Iran likely does not want a direct confrontation with American troops in Iraq but is backing militiamen to ensure Shiites win any future civil war with Iraqi Sunnis after the Americans leave, several experts said Thursday.

The Quds Force's role underlines how deeply enmeshed Iran is in its neighbor -- and how the U.S. could face resistance even from its allies in Iraq if it tries to uproot Iran's influence in the country.

The Quds (pronounced "KOHds") Force -- the name means "Jerusalem" in Farsi and Arabic -- is the most elite and covert of Iran's military branches. Over the past two decades, the corps is believed to have helped arm and train the Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon, Islamic fighters in Bosnia and Afghanistan, and even Sudanese troops fighting in south Sudan...

jonSlack
02-15-2007, 11:11 PM
Is there any material on whether or not the IRGC is working with the Shia in Afghanistan, like the Shia elements of the Hazaras, or any of the other groups in Afghanistan?

Van
02-16-2007, 04:51 AM
Given the Iranian habits/cultural inclinations to what we narrow and linear Westerns would call outrageous exaggeration, has anyone suggested that these "elite" elements may be something like the "unstoppable" and "Iranian" designed underwater rocket (the aging Russian-made Shkval torpedo)? Could this be another media generated tempest in a teacup?

Bill Moore
02-16-2007, 05:38 AM
So far we generally have two categories of actors that we frequently refer to when discussing conflicts, which are State Actors and Non-State actors. I am beginning to wonder if it is appropriate to designate a third category called sub-state actors. These are organizations that are allegedly belong to the state, yet also conduct independent operations outside the realm of state control. I'm not they exist, but I think the ISI of Pakistan and the Quds of Iran could be two examples. If true this creates some interesting dilemnas.

As anyone wrote on this subject previously?

Bill

zenpundit
02-16-2007, 07:20 AM
"Is there any material on whether or not the IRGC is working with the Shia in Afghanistan, like the Shia elements of the Hazaras, or any of the other groups in Afghanistan?"

That's an excellent question. The Hazara are Mongol-descended Sevener Shia who would be "hereteical" in the eyes of more stringent Iranian Twelver Shia. OTOH, the ruling clique in Syria are Alawites, an even more distant and weird offshoot, yet are nominally considered Shia by Iranian authorities.

I suppose if the Iranians can work with Hekmatyar....

Van
02-16-2007, 12:06 PM
Bill, the middle ground between "State" and "Non-State" is "State-Sponsored". This description fits Quds to a tee. The problem is that even state-sponsored has a very wide range, from rogue elements of the state's apparatus to elements that would be considered non-state except that they are wholly funded by one state. Of course, the state involved usually sees an interest in covering the money trail carefully IOT create plausible deniability, and there is always a question of how 'rogue' are those rogue elements (again with the plausible deniability).

jcustis
02-16-2007, 01:18 PM
These are organizations that are allegedly belong to the state, yet also conduct independent operations outside the realm of state control. I'm not they exist, but I think the ISI of Pakistan and the Quds of Iran could be two examples. If true this creates some interesting dilemnas.

As anyone wrote on this subject previously?

I've read considerable commentary regarding the ISI and meddling in India, and know there is a book out there that I browsed once. I'll try to hit the Research Center this weekend and dig it up.

tequila
02-16-2007, 01:26 PM
Most Hazaras are Twelvers. There is a small Hazara population in Iran as well.

zenpundit
02-16-2007, 03:42 PM
"Most Hazaras are Twelvers. "

Actually, Tequilla is correct, I was thinking in terms of the Qayani Hazara and in retrospect I'm pretty sure that there are some non-Hazara Seveners in Afghanistan as well.

Stratiotes
02-16-2007, 06:09 PM
I always find these "shocking revelation" stories a little odd. There have been many stories of American "elite" soldiers infiltrating and stirring rebellion in countries too. It hardly seems "shocking" that Iran would do the same thing our country would do to further its interests in an area. And it is not shocking that they would deny it just as we often do. It would, for instance, not shock me in the least if we hear reports that Green Berets or Navy SEALS are in Iran now. Maybe they're not, but it would not be a shock or surprise if we found out they were.

From a purely objective military sense, would it not be in Iran's best interest to do all they could to make it more difficult for the US to turn their attention elsewhere? In that sense, perhaps Iran would be stupid *not* to attempt to assist the resistance in Iraq. From a purely military point of view, it is in Iran's best interest to hinder our efforts in Iraq. The busier we are there, the less likely we would have the resources to take on another front.

It is not shocking, it would seem common sense. Of course, it might be that Iran really isn't involved but acting shocked that they would be is about as naive as we could be and seems to be indicative of not knowing/understanding our enemy as we should. Not shame on them - shame on us for being surprised.

goesh
02-16-2007, 07:09 PM
I wonder what the estimate of their number is? I remember when the Soviet Spetsnaz were hyped and hyped some more but you don't hear much about them anymore. I heard they got sand kicked in their face in Afghanistan.

Stratiotes
02-17-2007, 01:49 AM
I wonder what the estimate of their number is? I remember when the Soviet Spetsnaz were hyped and hyped some more but you don't hear much about them anymore.

Well, except for the ones who are making a living in other ways now: :D
http://www.russianmartialart.com/
(http://www.russianmartialart.com/)

Uboat509
02-17-2007, 10:41 PM
Bill, the middle ground between "State" and "Non-State" is "State-Sponsored". This description fits Quds to a tee.

I have to disagree with you on this. I suspect that the Quds force falls firmly into the "State" category. Now it may be debatable whether their orders are coming from the religious apparatus or the government but in Iran that is an entirely moot point.

SFC W

Jedburgh
02-19-2007, 01:58 PM
RFE/RL, 16 Feb 07: Iran: Expert Discusses Iran's Quds Force And U.S. Charges Concerning Iraq (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/02/36b123ce-693b-448e-bf7d-a541e2a7bd12.html)

...RFE/RL: Is it possible that the Quds Force is involved directly in attacks against U.S. forces and coalition troops?

Abedin: Not at all, because that's not Iranian policy. The contention which the Americans have made -- now they've backtracked from it -- is rather quite silly, because now what they are saying is that maybe the Quds Force is doing it without the official sanction of the Iranian government. The Quds Force, although it's a highly specialized department, it is subject to strict, iron-clad military discipline. It's completely controlled by the military hierarchy of the IRGC, and the IRGC is very tightly controlled by the highest levels of the administration in Iran. If the Quds Force was going around blowing up American soldiers, then that would be definitely sanctioned by the highest levels of the Iranian government. But my point is that they're not doing that, because Iranian policy in Iraq is not about that. Iranian policy in Iraq is to give proper training and support to Iran's natural allies in Iraq in order to influence their political positioning in post-occupation Iraq. The Iranians are far too smart, in my view, to challenge American power in Iraq directly....

SWJED
02-19-2007, 02:22 PM
19 February Washington Times - Secretive Force Pivotal in Iraq (http://www.washtimes.com/world/20070218-103953-6843r.htm) by David Sands.


A shadowy Iranian paramilitary unit smaller than some U.S. Army battalions is at the center of a standoff between Washington and Tehran over the war in Iraq.

President Bush voiced growing concern about the secretive Quds Force at a press conference Wednesday. The capture of a senior Quds operative during a raid last month in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil underscores the U.S. charge that Iranian leaders are funding and arming Iraqi Shi'ite militias that kill American troops.

"Let me put it this way: There's not a whole lot of freelancing in the Iranian government, especially when it comes to something like that," White House spokesman Tony Snow said last week.

But Iranian scholars and military specialists say the case in not so clear-cut. The Islamic Republic of Iran, they say, was designed to create multiple, often competing power centers, with blurry, shifting lines of authority reaching eventually to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei...

Bill Moore
02-19-2007, 03:37 PM
SWJED and Jed, thanks for the articles, it shows how little the open source community knows about this issue, and we're starting to see the counter spin from Iran in the article Jed posted (perhaps). Jed, unless I missed it, the article you posted side stepped the main issue, which is we're claiming (we know) that someone from Iran is providing material support in the form of weapons (EFPs to start with) to various actors in Iraq. The article stated the Quds were not attacking Americans. That is two separate issues. I didn't see one question about the Quds providing material support? It almost appears to be a deliberate side step, what's your take?

This is one area where we're going to have to trust the intelligence community. Regardless of whether or not the arms is coming from lower level mugs conducting illicit arms smuggling (in this case it appears doubtful) or from the government, someone on the Iranian side of the border should be losing sleep tonight for what we may do to them tomorrow.

Jedburgh
02-19-2007, 03:57 PM
...unless I missed it, the article you posted side stepped the main issue, which is we're claiming (we know) that someone from Iran is providing material support in the form of weapons (EFPs to start with) to various actors in Iraq. The article stated the Quds were not attacking Americans. That is two separate issues. I didn't see one question about the Quds providing material support? It almost appears to be a deliberate side step, what's your take?
I agree with you; the interview deliberately avoided the question of material support, and just focused on deconstructing the accusations of direct targeting by the Iranians. The statement "Iranian policy in Iraq is to give proper training and support to Iran's natural allies in Iraq" is loaded with underlying meaning - the implication is that such material support is involved. I personally believe that is the case - no, the Iranians aren't directly engaging US or Coalition forces, but they are providing training and a unknown degree of material support to militia elements that do target US and Coalition forces. However, OSINT-wise, there are a huge number of constradictions and information gaps and any "conclusion" reached through such sources is questionable.

SWJED
02-19-2007, 05:24 PM
... Regardless of whether or not the arms are coming from lower level mugs conducting illicit arms smuggling (in this case it appears doubtful) or from the government, someone on the Iranian side of the border should be losing sleep tonight for what we may do to them tomorrow.

... completely. Should the former be true (rouge elements of the Iranian military aparatus), it is time the Iranian government step up - take responsibility and action to curb the Quds' actions. Should the later be true (government sanction of Iraq operations) then we have a serious problem that cannot be ignored or 'wished away'.

I am having a very difficult time understanding the 'official stances' of many of the governments of Islamic countries. It seems to me that they proclaim a stance and go about their merry way supporting the very elements that for the most part undermine their 'for public consumption' press releases.

Jedburgh
08-17-2007, 02:30 PM
CSIS, 16 Aug 07: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Al Quds Force, and Other Intelligence and Paramilitary Forces (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/070816_cordesman_report.pdf)

This paper is a "Rough Working Draft" that has no intro, summary or conclusion - it simply lays out what CSIS has put together through open sources. It is an interesting document in that it puts a lot of disparate pieces together, but there are no major surprises and plenty of information gaps. Unusually for CSIS (in my opinion of their past product) it possesses a surplus of conjecture. Perhaps unavoidable given the the nature of much of the open source material available on the subject.

tequila
08-26-2007, 03:41 PM
Iran's Guard Builds a Fiscal Empire (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-guards26aug26,0,3025419,print.story?coll=la-home-center) - LATIMES, 26 Aug.


Iran's Revolutionary Guard has quietly become one of the most significant political and economic powers in the Islamic Republic, with ties to more than 100 companies, which by some estimates control more than $12 billion in business and construction, economists and Iranian political analysts say.

The Guard was created in 1979 as a military and intelligence force to protect the ideals of Iran's Islamic Revolution. But the 125,000-strong force has used the massive military engineering capability it developed rebuilding the country after the 1980-88 war with Iraq to take over the strategic highlands of the Iranian economy.

The legendary people's army now has its hand in a broad and diverse variety of activities, such as dentistry and travel, and has become the dominant player in public construction projects across the country, say businessmen and economists in Tehran and analysts abroad.

Under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guard commander, the force also has extended its reach in the Cabinet: 14 of 21 members are former Guard commanders. Former officers also hold 80 of the 290 seats in the parliament and a host of local mayorships and local council seats. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, is a former Guardsman.

The Revolutionary Guard's growing economic clout helps explain why the Bush administration is reportedly contemplating designating it a terrorist organization: More important than the label itself, the move would allow the U.S. to block its assets and disrupt operations by firms that associate with it, which with the Guard's large financial footprint would affect supplies, credit and investment to a broad swath of the Iranian economy ...

SWJED
09-05-2007, 08:54 AM
SWJ Blog - Are We Prematurely Designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as Criminal-Soldiers? (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/09/are-we-prematurely-designating/) By Robert J. Bunker and Hakim Hazim.


The recent U.S. consideration to designate the 125,000 person strong Revolutionary Guard of Iran as a “specially designated global terrorist” (per Executive Order 13224) has quite a few international security implications. (1) On the most basic level, it highlights growing U.S. and Iranian tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program and Iranian involvement—via its Quds Force belonging to the Revolutionary Guard—in both fermenting and supporting terrorist and insurgent activities in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

What may be far more significant, however, is the U.S. designating the military branch of a sovereign state as a terrorist organization. In the past, such designations have applied only to non-state entities. (2) While the intent of such a designation would be to target the Revolutionary Guard’s multi-billion dollar business network with ties to over 100 companies, (3) broader implications concerning state sovereignty, political legitimacy, and, ultimately, non-state-on-state conflict readily emerge. Before these issues are discussed, a short overview of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard or IRG should be provided with a focus on the Quds Force...

SDSchippert
09-05-2007, 09:27 PM
We - as a nation - have not settled on a single definition of terrorism and/or terrorist groups, let alone the rest of the world. But one item is nearly universal, and that is that an attack on a state by a non-state actor is terrorism, and an attack on a state by a state actor is an act of war. In some instances, the emotional dynamic of civilian targets or casualties is not even a factor. (Consider, if you will, Dresden.)

I must not have stated the case in a fluid and convincing enough manner, as it netted the sound of crickets in response, but I attempted to make this case a few weeks ago with IRGC Designation and the Law of Unintended Consequences (http://commentary.threatswatch.org/2007/08/irgc-designation-and-the-law-o/)


Designating the IRGC a terrorist organization will likely have precisely the desired economic effect. But can this purely psychological impact (beyond our borders, definitions and laws) not be achieved under the existing “state sponsor of terrorism” umbrella? If not, why not?

Ask precisely how Iran sponsors international terrorism, and it must be concluded that it is almost exclusively through their IRGC and Quds Force. So why separate the IRGC from its commanding regime?

Do we really need to specifically designate Iran’s most elite military branch as a terrorist entity to justify such defense against those who are killing our troops in Iraq, both directly and via sponsorship and arms support?

The short answer is “No.” The long answer is more colorful and spoken by soldiers and Marines in the field losing their brothers at Iranian hands. Specially designed Iranian-supplied EFP’s claim the bulk of US casualties incurred by roadside blasts. During the last quarter of 2006, “EFP attacks accounted for 18 percent of combat deaths of Americans and allied troops in Iraq.” And the level of EFP shipments is increasing, not decreasing.

After stating the Quds Force Karbala operation from January - whose involvement was swept aside by many as simply the actions of 'rogue elements' rather than the disciplined actions of a state military unit, I tried to further make the case that Quds Force and the IRGC are in fact state arms, regardless of their tactics and which non-state groups they support.


‘Rogues’ within a state – as some have tried to characterize lethal IRGC/Quds Force actions in Iraq - do not build entire mock-ups, coordinate and train foreign actors, and supply vast amounts of precision-milled shaped copper EFP’s without the acknowledgment of their state apparatus.

Unless the Bush Administration dismisses a definition of terrorism which in essence includes “an unlawful threat or act of violence committed for a political purpose by a non-state actor,” then the action of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Quds Force as terrorists by definition sets them apart from the Iranian regime and state. How wise is this?

Ralph Peters says, “Our policy is that we reserve the right to whack terrorists anywhere in the world. Now we have newly designated terrorists.” He’s quite right. But do we not also equally reserve the right to defend ourselves against state actors who kill and/or facilitate killing our troops in the field?

Does it matter at the end of the day whether that state actor trains, arms and deploys terrorists or sends their own men to do the job? It shouldn’t.

On one hand, it is reassuring to see the administration pro-actively confronting (or, at this point, talking about confronting) the Iranian regime without the (contemporary) historical pre-requisites of UN inclusion and nuclear program ties.

On the other hand, it also demonstrates a timidity to call Iran's war on us what it is. Iran possesses no such timidity. They do, however, successfully engage proxies to avoid the full consequences of their actions.


The Iranian regime makes no bones about their intent. However, they quite skillfully leave their specific actions just ambiguous enough for us to reliably debate ourselves into inaction.

I understand the reluctance for the White House to call Iranian acts of war precisely that publicly. The demand will likely be one of reciprocity and decisive reaction. And, well, we're kind of busy at the moment. But, on the other hand, classifying the units currently waging war as terrorists does not change the actions, no matter what we call it.

I conclude here precisely as I concluded in the August commentary: We cannot simply re-classify or redefine the actions of those who kill us and openly seek to destroy us. When a state’s military conducts regular attacks upon another, it is by definition an act of war. We may not like it. We may even try to redefine it. And we may ultimately decide that such provocation does not warrant an in-kind response. But it is what it is, regardless. We need not conflate the “non-state” or “sub-national” definition of a terrorist group in order to justify targeting – militarily or financially - any state or group that kills or seeks to kill our civilians or soldiers.

Forgive the length of the reply and the excessive quoting, please.

Thoughts?

Watcher In The Middle
09-05-2007, 11:44 PM
Re: The recent U.S. consideration to designate the 125,000 person strong Revolutionary Guard of Iran as a “specially designated global terrorist”.

Yes, the Law of Unintended Consequences does indeed apply. But here's a short summary of the Law of Unintended Consequences:

Unintended consequences can be classed into roughly three types:

1) a positive unexpected benefit, usually referred to as serendipity or a windfall
2) a potential source of problems, according to Murphy's law used in Systems engineering
3) a negative or a perverse effect, which is the opposite result of what is intended
Link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_consequence

Now, let's look at why this designation of the IRGC is happening in the first place. The IRGC started to "acquire" existing business contracts which were previously held by Iranian non-IRGC business interest (looks like starting in earnest in 2003). Many of these existing contracts were in partnership with other, non-Iranian firms, and were located in the Engineering, Construction, and PetroChem sectors of the Iranian economy. The outside partners (usually non-Iranian) were given little, if any choice in the selection of their new partners.

Both the WSJ and the FT among others have been profiling these types of occurrences, going all the way back well into 2006. This trend of IRGC business contract "takeovers" actually can be traced back all the way into 2003.

These IRGC business contract "takeovers" also usually preceded several events that resulted in attempts/actions by Iranian representatives to unilaterally take control of project assets and equipment, unilateral renegotiation of agreements to provide for IRGC control, and even termination of agreements which they did not find to be favorable to their interests.

In both 2006, and now 2007, the IRGC has "acquired" control of some very large pre-existing business agreements where the IRGC has some very potentially lucrative, yet highly complex agreements. With some of these "takeovers", other powerful Iranian, non-IRGC business interests were pushed aside in favor of the IRGC. There appears to be at least some covert dissension among the losing parties over their rather abrupt removal from the business agreements (understandably not too happy).

US Treasury obviously feels that this is a move to escape sanctions, and they see that the IRGC has made a rather substantial number of financial commitments, which from Treasury's viewpoint, are an international financial pressure point that can be exploited, and can be extremely effective.

Look at this from Treasury's viewpoint: IRGC has made themselves into a very large player, and consequently a target. The types of business agreements the IRGC has taken over require external financing equipment above and beyond what is available within Iran, and designation as a “specially designated global terrorist” makes acquiring either, much less both extraordinarily difficult.

Plus (to be blunt about it), this really sticks it to the IRGC, certainly has the potential to make them look like unreliable business partners, and creates potential allies among the non-IRGC business partners who were strong-armed out of these business agreements.

From Treasury's standpoint, it's hard to see a down side. Plus, don't discount the effect of doing this in the political marketplace. The reality is that if you don't do something like this, the pressure is just going to build to take actions against Iran in other venues. And these actions would probably tend to be of a more "direct nature".

Truth of the matter is that the IRGC has made themselves out to be a very lucrative target for such economic controls. A pressure point to be taken advantage of.

As to the law of unintended consequences, I can see (1) happening in the sense that there could easily be elements within Iran that won't be at all unhappy to see these impacts upon the IRGC. Such actions by Treasury also gives unwilling non-Iranian partners a reason to avoid dealing with the IRGC.

I can see (2) happening just because those effects are going to happen regardless of these actions occurring, or not occurring.

Am hard pressed to see how (3) can occur.

My .02

SDSchippert
09-06-2007, 03:55 AM
Appreciate the reasoned logic shared.

Like I said, I don't one bit doubt that designating the IRGC will bring about the desired economic consequences, which you detail accurately in my view. And each of those consequences are good developments without question.

Forgive as I struggle with economy of words, please.

The question for me remains - Why can these economic consequences not be brought about under the proper umbrella of "State Sponsor of Terrorism"? If it does not provide for such international economic leverage as perceived under a designation as a "terrorist group," then why not? The perception among potential international entities that would do business with the IRGC under its new no-bid contract authority is one that is purely of our own making. Both designations - and the consequences delineated - are our own, by our own legal definitions.

So rather than pretend that an entire branch of one nation's armed forces are non-state terrorists, why not amend our terms and consequences for dealing with state sponsors of terrorism and dole them as required? ...Regardless of how far Quds Force "holy warriors are incompatible with our perceptions of political legitimacy." Quds Force carries out the will of the still-revolutionary theocratic regime, which, hate it or love it, is recognized as a state in every corner I have peeked.

The authors write, "The Quds, viewed from this perspective (holy warriors of the clerics) and coupled with the fact of their direct involvement in terrorist activities, are more of a non-state entity than a component of a national military force such as the IRG." In this, they argue that treating them as an arm of the state gives undue "political legitimacy" to the clerics and, thus, the Iranian regime which is by constitutional design constituted at its most powerful levels from the clerics' ranks. The Supreme Leader, the Assembly of Experts, the Guardian Council... We in fact often are required to point out how little true constitutional executive power Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds as mere president.

With all due respect, I approach it from the compete opposite. I view Bunker and Hazim's argument as giving undue legitimacy to the religious duty Quds Force carries out at the behest of the clerics they serve - clerics both in and out of official government office. The regime is one of clerics. The regime has never chosen to delineate the religious from the political - quite the opposite, of course - so why should we now attempt to do so?

The Iranian regime accepts and leverages membership in the United Nations, not the United Pre-Nation-State Prospective Imamates. If we hypothetically attempted to remove them, they would in fact outright demand to be recognized as such.

The argument of avoiding giving undue "political legitimacy" to Quds, the clerics and thus (because they cannot be separated by their own definition) the regime would perhaps be an argument I would entertain if we were actively supporting a dissident alternative(s) within Iran that could form a "politically legitimate" government in place of the existing theocratic regime, one which is unquestionably seeking to establish a greater imamate through regional insurgency. But we are not. So, if we follow this logic to its end point and remove political legitimacy, then what?

All boils down to the well written (and informative) analytical commentary deciding to identify with the religious Pre-Nation-State Prospective Imamate aspect of Quds Force in order to justify calling them a terrorist organization - due to their actions, as the authors accurately conveyed. In order to do this, one must consciously choose to then dismiss Quds Force's role as an arm of the state.

I ask, then, do the Qom imams take up special collections at Friday prayers for Quds Force expenses, or is there a ministerial payroll generated out of Tehran's governmental offices to dispense compensation, benefits and operating expenses for the IRGC arm?

And therein lies my fundamental disagreement.

For at the end of the day, we are toying around quite unnecessarily with our own definition of a terrorist entity. Smack in the infancy of a war against terrorists who all one day want to grow up and become insurgents so that they can then mature fully into their version of a state - even if one in the form of a caliphate and/or imamate that is in ways "incompatible with our perceptions of political legitimacy."

In so doing, we seek to declare either the IRGC, Quds Force or both as a whole as terrorist organizations. An entire branch of a nation's military.

We fight the uphill battle of perception from the outset in a long war with a massive public information component with the 'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' meme fueled by our (neccessary) support for the mujahideen against the Soviet Union. Now, we toy with (or ignore) our own definition of a terrorist group and fuel the now-amplified message that "One nation's terrorist group is another nation's military branch."

All because we find it more expedient to deal with an enemy as declared officially a terrorist group - with its ready-made economic consequences - rather than as the state sponsor it is and adjusting those economic consequences to suit the need and urgency.

In effect, we therefore adjust the very definition of a terrorist group that can be seen as based upon their actions (in part, supporting and/or participating in the deaths of civilians) in the infant stages of what we have chosen to characterize as a 'War on Terrorism.'

And now that that definition includes a nation's entire branch of the military. A state actor defined as a terrorist group.

I recall not long ago an American civilian administration that was not much opposed to slipping the United States Military directly under the jurisdiction of an International Criminal Court, where American warfighters would find themselves prosecuted for war crimes as defined and charged by myriad international actors with potentially spurious motives. In fact, there were international demands that America do just that and give the ICC access to direct charge and prosecution. Lucky are we that it was not established until 2002.

We may not be far from a very like-minded American civilian administration. Do we really want to go down that road?

And thus, the unintended consequence.

Sometimes we're just too damned smart for our own good, so brilliant are we.

Re-write the economic penalties for doing business with a State Sponsor of Terrorism, not the definition of a Terrorist Entity. We wrote the damned things in the first place.

Watcher In The Middle
09-07-2007, 04:38 AM
Why can these economic consequences not be brought about under the proper umbrella of "State Sponsor of Terrorism"? If it does not provide for such international economic leverage as perceived under a designation as a "terrorist group," then why not?

Don't think that's their goal. I tend to believe that the US government (through these financial measures) wants to target specifically the IRGC and their related entities.

Let's look at this "politically" (I know, really, really BAD WORD!). Back in the day, the Administration decided to name Iran as a sponsor of terrorism, and that didn't go so well. Arguing over the past in this specific case is irrelevant, but if the goal was to better relationships between Iran and the US, well, pretty obvious that that approach failed miserably.

Simple Analysis: They tried to use a double barreled sawed-off as a sniper rifle. Didn't work, at least not well.

Designating Iran as a "State Sponsor of Terrorism" just will not get them where they want to go. That would just come across as a replay of their previous failed attempt at "communicating" with Iran. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein. They do learn - eventually.

But now we have a different issue with Iran. The IRGC is being developed into a major economic development player within Iran, and now externally on large Iranian development projects, with non-Iranian business partners. No reason (or need) to target the entire nation-state of Iran with such a designation, when a specific quasi "business entity" will do.

Honestly, this approach is very similar to what the US government has done with any number of quasi business firms within the PRC (China). The Chinese government squawks about such designations, and then business continues forward as usual (except for the designated firms, they are now officially in a world of hurt). But the Chinese government realizes that this is just one of those costs of doing business. And "doing business" wins.

Understand, my outlook tends to be tempered by dealing with other pol's. They tend to want and require the "short version" of everything, and in many cases, it's all about framing issues, and honestly, "who's going to be driving the bus". The points you raise in your posts would be lost upon them, because those points would be extremely difficult to "frame" regarding any discussion regarding Iran.

Would I be at all surprised if the points and issues you raise were considered? I would expect they were considered, and seriously. I just think that other factors were more important, such as the need for taking a strong action designed to alleviate the need for imminent military action.

I tend to be convinced that this action designating the IRGC has a substantive political equation to it, along with the obvious primary goal of disrupting the financial operations of the IRGC. But there's also no reason to make other additional enemies by disrupting other parts of the Iranian economy that are not directly/indirectly aligned with the IRGC. We'll leave that up to the Iranian government to do on their own. They appear to be much more capable of accomplishing that goal than we are.

Jedburgh
02-26-2008, 02:32 PM
JFQ, 2nd Qtr 08: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: An Open Source Analysis (http://www.ndu.edu/inss/Press/jfq_pages/editions/i49/31.pdf)

....By analyzing only open source material, it is evident that the key center of gravity in Iran is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or Sepah-e Pasdaran (Pasdaran). The IRGC’s conventional military strength, uncompromising execution of its conceptual and constitutional mandates, political and economic influence, and direct as well as indirect control of the country’s WMD programs combine to make the Pasdaran the source of the clerical regime’s power both domestically and internationally......

Jedburgh
01-20-2009, 09:14 PM
RAND, 20 Jan 09:

The Rise of the Pasdaran: Assessing the Domestic Roles of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG821.pdf)

This monograph assesses the extent of the IRGC’s penetration into Iran’s society, economy, and politics. We begin by situating the IRGC within the context of Iran’s factional landscape and security bureaucracy, highlighting the origins and early development of its domestic roles. Next, we cover the IRGC’s role in popular paramilitary training, higher education, the indoctrination of youth, and its influence over Iran’s domestic media. This extensive apparatus serves both the regime’s interests—mobilizing the population into a “10 million–man army” for the defense of the homeland and countering reform activism, particularly on university campuses—and the more parochial goal of blunting any criticism of Pasdaran nepotism and economic corruption. We then discuss the IRGC’s economic role. We survey its broad-ranging business interests in numerous Iranian market sectors, as well as its role in public works, highlighting how these activities lend the institution a multidimensional quality. Finally, we conclude with an assessment of the IRGC as a political actor, paying special attention to emerging factionalism within its ranks and highlighting instances in which these fissures have surfaced in the past.
Complete 153-page study at the link.

tequila
01-01-2010, 06:18 PM
Very interesting article (http://www.nationalinterest.org/PrinterFriendly.aspx?id=22602) by Dr. Ali Ansari about the IRGC and its increasing prominence in the Iranian economy.

Increasingly we can no longer talk about the mullahs being in charge --- rather we can speak of a sort of state that looks more like Russia, where ideological fervor comes in second place to a rentier state controlled by the factions within the security services allied with the Supreme Leader.

Indeed, the onset of additional sanctions cannot necessarily be seen as a negative by members of the regime like the Guard, which benefits enormously from the sanctions already in place. Indeed, more sanctions will act to further enrich the power players.


SOME YEARS back on a research trip to Iran, I met a young man who had been conscripted into the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Commenting on his obviously secular upbringing, I was both intrigued and sympathetic. Yet contrary to all expectations, I found him not only sanguine but also somewhat relieved. He explained that the Guards were not what he had expected. For all their very public piety, they were by far the most relaxed and laid back of the military organizations in the Islamic Republic. The Guards had even implemented a form of flexible work hours. God forbid, had he gone into the regular military he might have been expected to adhere to a strict work regimen. It was all highly unorthodox and reassuringly Iranian. The IRGC wasn’t a disciplined military organization in the Western sense of the term; it was a network, a brotherhood, in which personalities and connections mattered far more than structures. This did not make it necessarily less effective or indeed less dangerous as an instrument of coercion—the lack of transparent rules might, in fact, make it more so—but it was certainly a different type of beast.

Though the IRGC started its life as a defender of the revolution, over time the organization has become increasingly involved in commercial interests. Divisions within the Revolutionary Guard, particularly between its veterans and their heirs, have deepened. Now in bed with an increasingly radicalized elite in Iran, the IRGC seems to be less about protecting the people of the country and more about protecting its own material interests. Iran is rapidly becoming a security state.

Surferbeetle
01-01-2010, 06:41 PM
Who is Dr. Ali Ansari (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Ansari)?


Ali M. Ansari, PhD, is one of the world's leading experts on Iran and its history. Having obtained his BA and PhD from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS),[1] he is currently Professor in Modern History with reference to the Middle East at St. Andrews University in Scotland, where he is also the founding director of the Institute for Iranian Studies.

In addition to his dual role at St. Andrews, he is also an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and sits on the Governing Council of the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS). He is a regular speaker at conferences and events regarding Iran, including "Iran's New Parliament" at the New America Foundation[2]. He has also written for The Guardian,[3] The Independent,[4] and the New Statesman,[5] among others.

What is the National Interest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_National_Interest)?


The National Interest (NI) is a prominent conservative American bi-monthly international affairs magazine published by the Nixon Center. It was founded in 1985 by Irving Kristol and until 2001 was edited by Anglo-Australian Owen Harries. The National Interest is not restricted in content to “foreign policy” in the narrow, technical sense but attempts to pay attention to broad ideas and the way in which cultural and social differences, technological innovations, history, and religion impact the behavior of states.

The National Interest is often critical of positions taken by a rival magazine, Foreign Affairs.


NI has an international readership, and excerpts from its articles have been published in the New York Times, Financial Times, The Australian, International Herald Tribune, Shin Dong-A, The Spectator, and Austria's Europäische Rundschau, as well as on online sites such as the Russian Inosmi.ru.

omarali50
01-01-2010, 07:10 PM
I think you have hit the nail on the head. The revolution is now like post-stalinist Russia, but its less secure because the purges were less thorough and Iran was never a total dictatorship like Stalinist Russia was. Until a year ago, the islamic republic had reasonable internal legitimacy and some degree of real democracy. From that position, its not going to be easy to impose a watertight soviet style repression. But given the vast economic interests of the revolutionary guards, they are certainly going to make an effort. If they lose control, they also lose real money....

Firn
01-01-2010, 07:48 PM
From what I have seen, heard and read it will now be far more difficult to sustain the concept of an Iranian Islamic Republic than one year ago. The bloody trumoil must have hardened the lines of conflict.

Firn

AdamG
10-14-2010, 02:39 AM
Incompetency or sabotage?


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Wednesday said 18 members of the powerful Revolutionary Guard were killed in an explosion that struck the force's base in the country's west a day earlier.

The state IRNA news agency said 14 other Guard troops were wounded in Tuesday's blast in the city of Khoramabad, some 300 miles (500 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Tehran. The injured were taken to hospitals in Khoramabad.

The report said the blast was caused by a fire that had reached the ammunition storage area, but there was no word on what had ignited the blaze. In their first reports of the blast late Tuesday, most Iranian media said the explosion was an accident.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jTKZCrQlXqcCCDG6U3AnRLgrYmPwD9IQOHTO2?docId= D9IQOHTO2

AdamG
10-20-2010, 05:55 PM
Qu'elle surprise.


An explosion that ripped through an Revolutionary Guards Corps. base last week in western Iran, killing 18 soldiers, has attracted international attention because the site is reportedly used to store medium-range Shihab-3 missiles.
http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=191626

davidbfpo
11-06-2010, 11:41 PM
Hat tip to Scott Lucas blogsite picking up a story in The National:
The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has come under harsh and unprecedented criticism from his usually close supporters, the Revolutionary Guards, in a move that suggests rifts among the Islamic Republic's power centres are widening.

Link:http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2010/11/4/iran-feature-revolutionary-guards-speak-out-against-ahmadine.html

AdamG
02-18-2012, 04:50 PM
Must be the greasy kebabs.


The Iranian State media just announced that another high ranking Revolutionary Guard commander, Ahmad Sodagar, has died of a heart attack.

Sodagar, a major general, had served as the head of security and intelligence of the Guards’ Khatam-al-Anbia Base and was the chief commander of the Guards’ Prophet Mohammad Division. He had served in the Iran-Iraq war and, at the time of his death, was the head of the program “Defaeh Moghadas” or Holy Defense.

This is the fifth Guard commander to die because of a heart attack or stroke in the past month.

http://www.radicalislam.org/news/fifth-rev-guard-commander-dies-heart-attack