IRGC and the Iranian Army: What’s the Difference?
The standard across the world is that there is a regular army, consisting of naval, aerial and ground branches, which work under the supervision of the government. So far, there is no problem about this.
Moving on to Iran, we shall see a Revolutionary Guards, a paramilitary formation tasked with missions beyond borders. It is an imperium in imperio, and a militia superseding the regular army, which is still considered by the regime as loyal to the Shah.
Only a few people who know that the Revolutionary Guards, aka the IRGC, has its own ground, aerial, naval and air defense forces.
It is more powerful than the regular army run by the defense ministry. It has been suffering a noticeable marginalization since the advent of the Khomeini-led revolution.
For over a quarter of a century, senior officers within the IRGC have been appointed as defense chiefs, in a plain disregard for those of the defense ministry.
But President Hassan Rouhani, in mid-2017, decided to break with the common line of choices. He appointed Amir Hatami as a defense chief for the country. He succeeded the IRGC-affiliated Hossein Dehghani.
The IRGC is directly connected with the supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Neither the president nor the government has a say over its affairs. Furthermore, the IRGC is that which meddles in every single decision, be it related to the home front, or is it on a battle beyond borders.
The IRGC has its own men in high places beyond the military arena. At the foreign ministry, the IRGC's men are picked as ambassadors and senior diplomats in heavyweight countries.
The diplomats are appointed on orders of the IRGC. Some of them are among its elite officers.
As to the economy, the IRGC is the number one actor. It runs a plethora of firms and factories. These firms are awarded contracts of dozens of projects at the expense of the other companies, which incur huge losses due to this detrimental meddling.
In 2009, an IRGC firm had purchased the national telecommunications firm Telecom Iran at $ 7.8 billion. The regular army barely has a budget.
The IRGC has affiliated militias operating beyond borders: Quds Force. It is led by the terror commander Qassem Suleimani. At home, the IRGC is overseeing the militia of Basij. It is a militia consisting of operatives wearing a casual uniform. They are armed with pistols and knives. They hold checkpoints randomly. Those militias have powers from the supreme leader itself. They have the biggest role in putting down the Green Revolution in 2009.Countless video footages on YouTube show how cruel they are.
This year, President Hassan Rouhani introduced the general budget's bill for the new fiscal year to the Iranian Shura Council for approval.
He found that the budget of the IRGC is a threefold budget in compared with the regular army, although the number of Defense Ministry's troops is more than the number of .members of the IRGC. Also, wages and other financial bonuses offered to the IRGC affiliates and officers are far bigger than that granted to the army's enlistees and senior .officers
By Ayed Al Shammari, a Saudi journalist and a weekly columnist for Al-Riyadh newspaper who specializes in Iranian affairs.