Iran’s Most Powerful Weapon Against America: Meet the IRGC
Iran’s Most Powerful Weapon Against America: Meet the IRGC4
No other branch of the Iranian military can claim the notoriety that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has earned for itself over the last several decades
Earlier this year, the White House took the unprecedented step of designating the IRGC as an organization that “actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.” It was an IRGC fast attack craft that almost sparked open military conflict between the U.S. and Iran in June by staging an unprovoked attack against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
The IRGC continues to comprise a substantial part of the Iranian armed forces, but their influence—both within Iran and across the Middle-East region—extends far beyond raw combat capabilities. To understand the full extent of IRGC’s current role within the Iranian military, we must go back to back to the birth of the Iranian Islamic Republic The IRGC was founded in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution. Skeptical of the intentions of the inherited government and wary of a counter-coup, Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini founded the IRGC as a counterweight to the existing Iranian security apparatus.
Whereas the Iranian Army is sworn to defend the Iranian government, the IRGC was conceived as a “people’s army” meant to safeguard the ideals of the revolution against internal opposition. That opposition was swiftly crushed by Khomeini and his allies, who had successfully consolidated power by the early 1980’s. With its original purpose fulfilled, IRGC seized on the ongoing Iran-Iraq war as an opportunity to rebrand itself as a major regional player. As Syracuse University Professor Mehrzad Boroujerdi put it, “Before the war the IRGC militiamen were nothing more than bodyguards to the clerics.
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