And by troops I mean the Revolutionary Guard forces who are the only troops that the regime of the Mullahs trusts anymore. Reportedly Iran is pulling Qods Force personnel out of Syria, while Iran still undoubtedly has plenty of advisers and some Hezbollah and assorted Shiite militia volunteers in Syria, it’s clearly worried about retaining control at home in the face of mounting riots.
The Mullahs are far more worried about economic protests than they are about political protests. Political protests by university students are easier to suppress than the kind of populist economic protests that flowed across the region in the Arab Spring. And it would be very easy for the Iranian opposition to take over and direct such protests, the way that liberals and the Muslim Brotherhood did in Egypt.
The top priority for the regime is protecting itself, and that is the core purpose of the Revolutionary Guard. The Islamic Revolution has become identified with the clerical guardians of the revolution, much as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has equated the Jan 25 Revolution to its own leadership, the Iranian regime has locked the two together. Defending the Islamic Revolution means defending its leaders.
Syria is strategically important, but not nearly as important as protecting the Islamic Revolution at home. The withdrawal of the Qods force is another reminder of how precariously the Iranian power pyramid is balanced on elite militias and forces.