Dissent in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards

Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarionproject.org, the founder of WorldThreats.com and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel. He can be contacted at ryanmauro1986@gmail.com.


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A new documentary interviews four former members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps testifying that the regime’s top security force isn’t as united behind the regime as it may appear. Dissent in the IRGC poses a mortal threat to the regime, and a former member that spied for the CIA tells FrontPage that they can no longer by relied upon. The regime is finding itself unable to trust even its top operatives as one of the pillars holding it together starts to crumble.

Reza Kahlili, author of A Time to Betray, is a former member of the Revolutionary Guards that decided to spy for the CIA. He told FrontPage that the majority of the force’s members are “regular people” who originally joined because they were more religious and wanted to fight Iran’s enemies like Saddam Hussein. Today, large segments of it have grown disenchanted with the regime, particularly after witnessing the brutality since Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election last summer.

“Many of the commanders have been replaced by Mohammed Jafari, the chief commander. Some others have been arrested and some have even defected to other countries. The divide within the Guards and even the clerics and officials is the most intense ever since the revolution,” Kahlili said.

His comments come as it’s reported that a senior member of the Revolutionary Guards named Muhammed Hussein Torkaman defected six months ago. He was part of a special unit called the “Avengers of God” responsible for protecting the regime’s top leaders. A new documentary includes interviews with Torkaman and three other former members discussing the disillusionment inside the IRGC. In fact, one opposition leader in the U.S., Mohsen Sazegara, was one of the founders of the group. Akbar Ganji, the human rights activist who received international attention in 2005 when he went on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, also served in the IRGC.

Over the past year, there have been signs of shocking dissent among the regime’s security forces. Shortly after last summer’s uprising began, 16 senior members of the IRGC were arrested after they were caught meeting with high-level members of the army to discuss switching sides. In July, after former Iranian President Rafsanjani became a critic of the regime, 36 army officers were arrested for planning on going to his sermon in military uniform. The next month, at least 30 to 40 soldiers in the army were arrested by the regime for their involvement in the unrest. There have been rumors that General Ali Fazli, the commander of the IRGC in Tehran, was arrested and/or fired for refusing to order attacks on protestors. He has denied these reports, although it’s possible that was done under pressure.

The regular military forces’ lack of loyalty is a major concern for the regime. On December 10, a statement signed by key figures in the military surfaced that warned the Revolutionary Guards that if they attack the Iranian people, the military will come to their aid.  Among those signing the document are members of the army’s aviation division, commanders of the chief of staff of the army, members of the army’s logistical training unit, commanders of the 31st artillery division of Isfahan, and professors that teach the army and air force at Imam Ali University and Shaid Satari University. The authenticity of the document has been confirmed by Afshin Ellian and Michael Ledeen trusts it as well, although not everyone does.

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  • david

    so if obama had shown any support for the uprising it may have been enough to push it over the edge

    • dave

      the opposite is true, American support for the uprising would shore up support for the gov't, and discredit the uprising as being supported by western imperialistic forces (that's middle eastern logic)

  • USMCSniper

    Muslims always fight amongst themselves. Last time I checked the recolutionary guard was still rounding up dissdents, raping the women, and torturing them and killing them.

    • dave

      just replace the word "Muslims" with "religious peoples" and you got that right

      • USMCSniper

        What about the Quakers?

      • gcr

        ……..or atheistis like Stalin, Hitler, Lennin………..

  • gene willis

    it sounds like whats happening in washington.the right cant hadle the left and the left just left us all hanging.the united states as it was once called is immulating policies from any radical country.what is happening there is sure happening here as well.

  • cochavi1

    Ledeen says the regime is ripe to fall. Mauro agrees with him. Fuad Ajami says it is strong and the Basij reflect its support among lower-middle classes. We will see. Iranians would save themselves lots of anguished moments should they succeed in its removal. Of course, some would die and be tortured, and it is not for us to order other individuals to do that. They must decide.

  • 9-11 Infidel

    Irrespective of dissent in the ranks, the regime in Tehran, was able to murder, rape and torture many Green Revolutionaries and put down the protests. Now the revolution has turned to the Internet to continue its protests because of that effective crackdown.

    I didn't see the Iranian military anywhere when Neda was murdered.

    This is wishful thinking. The only way that the Mahdists will be overthrown is with help from the outside. Maybe in 2012, that help might arrive, but not during this administartion.

  • Nick

    The quickest way to topple the fraudulant regime is a general strike and/or depriving the regime from its petrolium revenues. Of course, Mullahs will kill a lot of the strikers in the process….

  • Iranian Dissident

    IRGC, always an evil force
    Islamic Revolutionary Guard defectors lie when they claim "people joined it to fight saddam", because they want to clean their own evil past. IRGC was established to kill and destroy domestic opposition from the beginning, long before Saddam attacked Iran. The Iranian constitution assigns the task of "Global Jihad" to the IRGC. Defectors like A.Ganji were involved in the violent suppression of Kurds and other anti regime forces in 1979-1980 period when thousands were killed and hundreds were executed, arrested and tortured. Sazegara, an IRGC founder, is also wrongly honored by Mr.Mauro as an opposition leader… he is NO such thing. he is only a commentator on VOA where almost ALL anti regime Iranians have been banned from participation since 2009.
    The IRGC has had its share of objectors during the uprising last year- mainly due to internal regime conflicts- but it is still intact and its genocidal nature is unchanged.

  • SAM000

    You are absolutly right on all the TOPICS;
    About sazegara, he is always connected to his base, he is representing the islamic regime's scape gate to the US ADMINISTRATION.

    The Mullahs intelligent services is very well done, it is composed of KGB, STASI, EX-SAVAK, and of course, UK Intelligent SERVICE and Ayatollah BBC. and Sazegara is the result of those mixture to fool up the American politics.

    And AKBAR GANJI was a Passdar and Torturer in EVIN.