The Revolutionary Guard; Major Force behind 1980 Coup


It was in the early phase of the war that the leaders of the coup came to conclude that they could not hold a grip on power and implement their plans for the coup, should Bani-Sadr be able to win the war. At those days when Iran’s regular army had been under heavy attack by people like Khamenei, Rezaee, Beheshti and Rayshahri, Bani-Sadr warned of possible military aggression against Iran and called for revival and reinforcement of the army.  Iraq imposed the war on Iran at the time when Iran’s army forces, specially the ground forces, had not been able to revive their military ability which had been weakened following the revolution. Though under heavy fire by the enemy, Bani-Sadr was able to make an organized army which prevented the enemy from further advancement into Iran’s soil. From the second month of the war, the Iranian army took the ground and started attacking the trapped army of Iraq. Given the troubles caused in the regular army’s operations by heads of the Islamic Republic Party and some elements of the revolutionary guard forces, Bani-Sadr used to visit the battle ground on daily basis.

Hatching plots against Bani-Sadr in Tehran, power-hungry individuals strongly believed that it was better for Iran to lose half its territory than Bani Sadr win the competition. By Khomeini’s order, the Revolutionary Guard forces were kept in Tehran and other big cities, and were used as instruments for the closure of the political organizations and the newspapers. The Rajaee’s government and the parliament had simultaneously tasked with standing against Bani-Sadr.

By reading Rafsanjani’s memoirs, one realizes that the part of the Revolutionary Guard, which used to be controlled by the Mujahidin of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic Party, played a very significant role in coup against Bani-Sadr.

In his book Passing the Crisis, Hashemi Rafsanjani confesses that the Revolutionary Guard forces were summoned to Tehran for completion of the latest phase of the June 1981 coup.

Rafsanjani writes about his visit with Beheshti to the Eram Park where the Khuzestan forces of the Revolutionary Guard had been located. The role played by Mohsen Rezaee, Ali Shamkhani, Khosrow Tehrani and Reza Seifollahi, who were all revolutionary guard commanders, in coup against Bani-Sadr’s government shows that they began to interfere in the political affairs by the permission given to them by the leaders of the coup. At the time of impeachment of Bani-Sadr, they were assigned to prevent the people form protesting against the impeachment and they were asked to cooperate with the revolutionary court in arrest and execution of the dissents. Rafsanjani in his book writes that these forces were summoned to Tehran in order to defend the revolution and the parliament. Military personnel, who were supposed not to play any role in the politics, were asked to participate in all the meetings held for the coup against Bani-Sadr’s government.

It was through these meetings that the Revolutionary Guard forces realized that they were indeed the backbone of the regime. People whose opposition to the coup was  so clear that Khomeini had to say if 35 million people say yes I would say no, were no longer regarded as supporting force for the regime. Through the coup and the deal made with Reagan and Bush governments on the embassy’s abductees, the Revolutionary Guard turned to become a driving force in Iran domestic and foreign policy. It comes of no surprise that the Revolutionary Guard forces have been holding the major military and political posts since the revolution to date and have been never questioned by anybody.

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