The Rise of the Pasdaran

The Rise of the Pasdaran: Assessing the Domestic Roles of IranA's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps

Frederic Wehrey
Jerrold D. Green
Brian Nichiporuk
Alireza Nader
Lydia Hansell
Rasool Nafisi
S. R. Bohandy
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    The Rise of the Pasdaran
    Book Description:

    Both high import payments for petroleum motor fuels and concerns regarding emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are motivating interest in possible fuel substitutes. Petroleum products derived from conventional crude oil constitute more than 50 percent of end-use energy deliveries in the United States and more than 95 percent of all energy used in the U.S. transportation sector. Almost 60 percent of liquid fuels are imported. Emissions from the consumption of petroleum account for 44 percent of the nation?s CO2 emissions, with approximately 33 percent of national CO2 emissions resulting from transportation-fuel use. In this report, RAND researchers assess the potential future production levels, production costs, greenhouse gases, and other environmental implications of synthetic crude oil extracted from oil sands and fuels produced via coal liquefaction relative to conventional petroleum-based transportation fuels. The findings indicate the potential cost-competitiveness of these alternative fuels and the potential trade-offs that their deployment requires between economic and environmental considerations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4680-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Never solely a military organization in the traditional sense, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)—also known as the Pasdaran (Persian for “guards”)—has seen a significant expansion and diversification of its domestic roles since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005. Today in Iran, a significant portion of the leadership consists of IRGC veterans, including Ahmadinejad, members of parliament, and most of the cabinet.¹ Bound together by the shared experience of war and the socialization of military service, the IRGC and its veterans have articulated a vision for the Islamic Republic of Iran that can be roughly described...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The IRGC in Context: Iranʹs Security and Political Landscape
    (pp. 7-18)

    Before exploring the IRGC’s varied domestic roles, it is first necessary to situate it within the larger framework of Iran’s security bureaucracy and political landscape. Setting this context is important for two reasons. First, the IRGC operates within a system that is highly factionalized along both informal and formal lines. Despite its dominance, the IRGC by no means has a total monopoly on internal security or military force, and it frequently vies with other institutions for visibility, power, and resources. This rivalry often sheds light on IRGC actions that may appear at first glance to be detrimental to the larger...

  10. CHAPTER THREE The IRGCʹs Diverse Domestic Roles: Origins and Evolution
    (pp. 19-34)

    The IRGC’s expansive reach into Iran’s economy, politics, and society has far exceeded its original, rather modest mandate. Understanding the degree of this divergence from its formal charter and, especially, from the vision outlined for it by Ayatollah Khomeini is critical to understanding how it is received by the Iranian public and by Iran’s ideological factions. In attempting to curry legitimacy with various segments of the Iranian populace, the IRGC frequently marshals the authority of Ayatollah Khomeini as well as its role in reconstructing the country after the “imposed war” or the “sacred defense,” i.e., the Iran-Iraq War.

    Speaking to...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Militarizing Civil Society: The IRGCʹs Indoctrination, Training, and Media Activities
    (pp. 35-54)

    From Basij university student groups and paramilitary training to monthly bulletins and newspapers, the IRGC administers a vast network of outlets for propagating a sense of corporatism, cultivating loyalty to the regime, and burnishing its own institutional image.

    What remains largely unknown, however, is the population’s receptivity to this mobilization. As in the case of dissent against its economic expansion, discussed at length in the next chapter, there is scattered reporting of cynicism, exhaustion, and resistance toward the IRGC’s ideological outreach. Yet given the breadth of its indoctrination efforts, as well as the fact that this indoctrination is frequently accompanied...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Economic Expansion: The IRGCʹs Business Conglomerate and Public Works
    (pp. 55-76)

    From laser eye surgery and construction to automobile manufacturing and real estate, the IRGC has extended its influence into virtually every sector of the Iranian market. Perhaps more than any other area of its domestic involvement, its business activities represent the multidimensional nature of the institution. The commercialization of the IRGC has the potential to broaden the circle of its popular support by co-opting existing financial elites into its constellation of subsidiary companies and subcontractors. Similarly, through the socialization and recruitment of rural and lower-class populations into the Basij—frequently accompanied by technical job training, scholarships, and other financial benefits...

  13. CHAPTER SIX The IRGC in Politics
    (pp. 77-92)

    Beginning first with its episodic confrontations against reform activists during the Khatami era, networks of active and former IRGC officers began to take on an increasingly political role that enabled the IRGC—by design or by accident—to emerge as a sort of “guardian” for conservatives seeking to displace Khatami supporters from political power. In 2003, former IRGC members or associates took control of numerous city and town councils, paving the way for their entry into legislative politics during the 2004 parliamentary elections. Of 152 new members elected to the Majles in February 2004, 91 had IRGC backgrounds, and a...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusion: Toward a More Strategic Understanding of the IRGC
    (pp. 93-98)

    Rather than framing the IRGC as a purely military organization marked by mafia-type economic tendencies and a homogeneous ideological outlook, this monograph has surveyed its broad-ranging roles in Iranian society and its emerging internal divisions. Our analysis underscores that the twin poles of commonly held assumptions about the IRGC are both incorrect. The IRGC is neither a corrupt gang nor is it a firebrand revolutionary vanguard with the aim of exporting Iran’s revolution across the region. Rather, its vested and increasing interests in the country’s economy make it an increasingly conservative force rather than a radical one.

    This study has...

  15. APPENDIX A Business Organizations Affiliated with the IRGC or Influenced by IRGC Personnel
    (pp. 99-102)
  16. APPENDIX B Current and Former IRGC Personnel
    (pp. 103-108)
  17. APPENDIX C Evolution of the Islamic Republic and the IRGC
    (pp. 109-112)
  18. APPENDIX D Provincial Map of Iran
    (pp. 113-114)
  19. APPENDIX E Glossary of Persian Terms
    (pp. 115-116)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 117-130)