NewsSpecial WireIran Revolutionary Guards expect key changes in high command

Iran Revolutionary Guards expect key changes in high command

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Aug. 4 – A series of changes expected at the top echelons of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards command will have far-reaching consequences for the country’s military strategy and posture, according to an informed official in the Iranian capital. Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Commandant General of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has presented his plans to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the reshuffle in the IRGC high command, and most of the changes are expected to be announced this month, the official, who requested anonymity, said. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Aug. 4 – A series of changes expected at the top echelons of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards command will have far-reaching consequences for the country’s military strategy and posture, according to an informed official in the Iranian capital.

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Commandant General of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has presented his plans to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the reshuffle in the IRGC high command, and most of the changes are expected to be announced this month, the official, who requested anonymity, said.

The IRGC Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Ali-Akbar Ahmadian, will be joining the new cabinet, most likely to replace outgoing Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani. Ahmadian, a doctor by training, has spent his entire military career in the Revolutionary Guards and was Shamkhani’s deputy as commander of the Revolutionary Guards Naval Forces.

Ahmadian will be replaced by Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi, who is currently commander of the paramilitary Bassij forces of the IRGC.

Another major change will be the departure of Brigadier General Aziz Jaafari from the command of the IRGC Ground Forces, according to the official.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who directly oversees the Revolutionary Guards and holds regular sessions with their top commanders, has asked Safavi and his commanders to devise a new command structure and military strategy for the IRGC that would give the elite military force unlimited access to national resources and absolute priority over the regular army in case of a foreign military confrontation.

Brigadier General Aziz Jaafari will be in charge of setting up a special centre that would draw up the new strategy and implement the necessary changes to ensure rapid and efficient transformation of the country’s civilian infrastructure and resources to military footing under the control of the IRGC.

In his new position, General Jaafari will be working closely with the new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Jaafari and Ahmadinejad are close friends and veterans of the Revolutionary Guards. In the 1980s, both men were Revolutionary Guards commanders based in Ramezan Garrison in western Iran. General Aziz Jaafari, a.k.a. Mohammad Jaafar Sahraroudi, was the IRGC commander who led the team that assassinated Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Ghassemlou and two of his associates in Vienna in July 1989. Ahmadinejad closely collaborated with Jaafari in the assassination.

Another Guards commander expected to be replaced in the reshuffle is Brigadier General Ahmad Kazemi, commander of the IRGC Air Force. Kazemi replaced Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf when the latter was appointed as the police chief in 2000, but Khamenei is said to want a more robust commander to lead the IRGC Air Force to achieve faster progress in the ballistic missile development under his command.

Other changes in the Revolutionary Guards high command will include a new commander for the elite Qods (Jerusalem) Force, which is responsible for all extra-territorial activities of the IRGC. The Qods Force commander, Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani, has won praises for his command of IRGC operations in Iraq in the past two years. A highly efficient military and intelligence-gathering network established by Soleimani’s forces in Iraq has played a critical role in expanding Iran’s influence in the war-torn country. Soleimani is expected to move on to a more senior position.

The changes in the IRGC high command are expected to strengthen the position of Commandant General Rahim Safavi and his deputy, Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr. Both men are fiercely loyal to Ayatollah Khamenei and played a crucial role in the election of Ahmadinejad. The reshuffle is likely to be followed by a purge of commanders who have been close to Khamenei’s rivals within the clerical leadership.

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