By Jubin Katiraie
On Tuesday, July 2, in a state order, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, changed the commander of the Basij Militia and the deputy chief of staff of the armed forces. Khamenei appointed Mohammad Reza Ashtiani as the deputy chief of staff of the armed forces, replacing Ataollah Salehi; and Gholamreza Soleimani as the commander of Basij Militia, replacing Gholam Hossein Gheybparvar.
These replacements are the consequences of the new regional and international changes regarding Iran. For instance, last month, after the U.S. designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, Khamenei appointed Hossain Salami as the new commander of the IRGC, replacing Mohammad Ali Jafari.
Who are the new appointees?
Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, newly appointed deputy chief of staff of the armed forces, is an army commander who previously served as the deputy commander of the Iranian army and deputy of the armed forces’ support administration. Ashtiani was appointed in 2013 as the deputy administrator of the armed forces staff inspection. In his order, Khamenei mentioned that the appointing of Ashtiani was due the recommendation of Mohammad Bagheri, the armed forces chief of staff. In his order, Khamenei demanded Ashtiani to endeavor for “improvement of defensive and security abilities of the armed forces.”
Gholamreza Soleimani, newly appointed commander of the Basij militia, is a former IRGC commander who served after the Iran-Iraq war as the commander of the 14th division of the IRGC, codenamed “Imam Hossein.” After changes in the structure of the IRGC and its division into provincial branches in 2006, Soleimani was appointed as the commander of the IRGC in Isfahan province and was also promoted by Khamenei.