At its inception, the Iranian terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was an ideologically oriented force, tasked with bringing the regime of Ruhollah Khomeini to power and “exporting the revolution”.
In the roughly four decades since, analysts say, the IRGC has increased its emphasis on ideological training, giving it equal weight with military training and rewarding and promoting its most radical elements.
As the very name of the force — which does not include “Iran” — suggests, the IRGC’s military capabilities are not intended for any true domestic purpose other than cracking down on dissent.
The Iranian terrorist IRGC singles out for recruitment individuals who are ideologically inclined, and therefore susceptible to indoctrination, or those in need of financial support, and shapes them into the people it desires them to be, analysts say.
Members of this institution, now a key player in Iranian politics and the economy, are rewarded for their extremism and commitment to the Guardianship of the Jurist (Wilayat al-Faqih) doctrine.
Guardianship of the Jurist is a Shia theological proposition that justifies Iran’s dictatorial system of rule and export of “revolution” across the region. It is largely dismissed in the broader Shia community as a theological anomaly.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has stacked his cabinet with hardliners, many of whom are former IRGC officials, to an unprecedented degree.
Among them is former IRGC official Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, who was close to the late IRGC-QF commander Qassem Soleimani.
Accused of embezzling large amounts of money during his mayoral tenure in Tehran, Ghalibaf escaped unscathed in a trial that saw others convicted, and went on to become Majles speaker in May 2020.
In April, he made headlines again for his family’s lavish trip to Turkey. Family members brought back 20 large suitcases of items they had purchased, sparking public uproar at a time when many in Iran are suffering greatly.