Does the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Seek a Coup in Iran?

Many Iranian citizens, even among the elites, believe that no coup is possible in Iran because of the balance of power between the two opposing military forces (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Army). But that view is completely mistaken. Iran is not immune to a coup, even though the Islamic regime in Iran is not threatened by the possibility of a coup as much as is Turkey, its northwest neighbor.

Ali Khamenei was selected as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic against the interests of certain influential revolutionaries when the IRGC’s big leaders backed him. He became ayatollah after he was selected in 1989 as the interim Supreme Leader, pending a referendum. But no such referendum ever took place.

If a coup occurs in Iran, it could only be carried out by the IRGC. The Iranian army cannot carry out a coup in the country as long as its high-ranking commanders are chosen by the Supreme Leader through high-security vetting. Meanwhile, the IRGC's offensive activities in the political-security and economic sectors have been intensifying under the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei. Moreover, in 2019, the Ministry of Intelligence budget grew 31% and the IRGC budget grew 26%, while the budget of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, decreased by 75%, and that of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics decreased by 50%.

It is very difficult to predict the timing of a coup. But it could happen after the Supreme Leader dies. It's one likely outcome.

Analysts cite the 2009 uprising, which took place during a presidential election, as the type of scenario that might spark a coup by the IRGC. Back then, the Revolutionary Guard, which was recently designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S., empowered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Ayatollah Khamenei gave the green light. Ahmadinejad was reselected, and his rivals were subjected to house arrest. In this way, the IRGC managed political turmoil to achieve its interests by applying pressure and serious threats against the unstable bureaucracy.

As armed holders of power, the IRGC will take military action if the ayatollahs turn their backs on the terrorist organization. Any other Supreme Leader-nominated administration will come under attack if the IRGC feels a threat against its own power. But this does not mean that the state is separate from the IRGC and the Iranian Islamic leadership. Rather, it is an integral part of the Khomeinist regime. The fight they would wage would be for more benefits and booty.

As one example of IRGC power, the regime's foreign minister Javad Zarif was not informed by them about Assad’s trip to Tehran. However, the IRGC’s Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani was included in that information loop.

The IRGC has seized control over the regime’s foreign relations in the Middle East, just as it seized many other departments in the country. The nefarious organization succeeded in grabbing everything of economic value there was to take in Iran. The organization monopolized all of Iran’s high-level economic functions and resources as it seeks to solidify its full authority over the country’s politics.

Fear of IRGC action against the ayatollahs is the likely explanation for the regime replacing IRGC commanders. Hossein Salami was appointed as the new IRGC commander-in-chief after the Supreme Leader promoted him to major general. The anti-Israeli officer was appointed for the IRGC bench to follow Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who had sat on the bench since 2007. On April 13, Salami was quoted by the IRGC-run Tasnim media agency as saying that he and the organization were proud of being designated a "terrorist group" by the Trump administration.

Dozens of IRGC commanders have been relocated or fired in more than 20 provinces of the country. There is a careful balancing of power being carried out by the big players.

So, there would have to be major reasons for any possible coup by the IRGC. One of the reasons might be the death of Khamenei and the resulting power vacuum at the top of the Islamic pyramid. Another could be a massive uprising against the regime across the country. In that case, the IRGC would take power through the excuse of the Islamic government's inability to curtail protests. Another reason might be the IRGC’s ambition to install itself as a military caliphate.

Any foreign military invasion would unite the political and military rivals of the regime, rather than widen the gap between them. Iranians are nationalistic, and so will never tolerate any foreign military strike. But that counterproductive scenario is unlikely, since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the United States has ruled out military intervention in Iran.

To prepare for any of these scenarios, the international community should become aware of the role played by the IRGC and be ready to act accordingly. The West should understand the consequences of any action or announcements they make, as when Pompeo tells reporters that "We're careful not to use the language of regime change."

A militant-backed Khomeinist regime would be easier to undermine as it exists now than would be an IRGC military state armed to the teeth. Of course, Iranians dislike the ayatollahs as much as they hate the IRGC. But we need to be ready to deal with the terrorist-designated IRGC, which would be more dangerous than what we face today. It must be stopped now.

Aynaz Anni Cyrus, an Iranian-American human rights activist, founder of Live up to Freedom, producer of The Glazov Gang and National Director of American Truth Project.. Anni was sold for $50 as a child bride in Iran. Rebelling against a life of sex slavery, she escaped to America. Now an American citizen, she is a leading spokeswoman against the evils of Islam.

Kaveh Taheri (Twitter: @TaheriKaveh), co-founder and chairman of the ICBHR.Com, is a Turkey-based Iranian Human Rights researcher and journalist who has worked exclusively on Middle East. Kaveh, who was a former political prisoner in Shiraz, had been sent to prison for his writings and statements on his Websites and Weblogs in Iran and fled the country through Turkey to save his life.

Many Iranian citizens, even among the elites, believe that no coup is possible in Iran because of the balance of power between the two opposing military forces (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Army). But that view is completely mistaken. Iran is not immune to a coup, even though the Islamic regime in Iran is not threatened by the possibility of a coup as much as is Turkey, its northwest neighbor.

Ali Khamenei was selected as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic against the interests of certain influential revolutionaries when the IRGC’s big leaders backed him. He became ayatollah after he was selected in 1989 as the interim Supreme Leader, pending a referendum. But no such referendum ever took place.

If a coup occurs in Iran, it could only be carried out by the IRGC. The Iranian army cannot carry out a coup in the country as long as its high-ranking commanders are chosen by the Supreme Leader through high-security vetting. Meanwhile, the IRGC's offensive activities in the political-security and economic sectors have been intensifying under the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei. Moreover, in 2019, the Ministry of Intelligence budget grew 31% and the IRGC budget grew 26%, while the budget of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, decreased by 75%, and that of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics decreased by 50%.

It is very difficult to predict the timing of a coup. But it could happen after the Supreme Leader dies. It's one likely outcome.

Analysts cite the 2009 uprising, which took place during a presidential election, as the type of scenario that might spark a coup by the IRGC. Back then, the Revolutionary Guard, which was recently designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S., empowered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Ayatollah Khamenei gave the green light. Ahmadinejad was reselected, and his rivals were subjected to house arrest. In this way, the IRGC managed political turmoil to achieve its interests by applying pressure and serious threats against the unstable bureaucracy.

As armed holders of power, the IRGC will take military action if the ayatollahs turn their backs on the terrorist organization. Any other Supreme Leader-nominated administration will come under attack if the IRGC feels a threat against its own power. But this does not mean that the state is separate from the IRGC and the Iranian Islamic leadership. Rather, it is an integral part of the Khomeinist regime. The fight they would wage would be for more benefits and booty.

As one example of IRGC power, the regime's foreign minister Javad Zarif was not informed by them about Assad’s trip to Tehran. However, the IRGC’s Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani was included in that information loop.

The IRGC has seized control over the regime’s foreign relations in the Middle East, just as it seized many other departments in the country. The nefarious organization succeeded in grabbing everything of economic value there was to take in Iran. The organization monopolized all of Iran’s high-level economic functions and resources as it seeks to solidify its full authority over the country’s politics.

Fear of IRGC action against the ayatollahs is the likely explanation for the regime replacing IRGC commanders. Hossein Salami was appointed as the new IRGC commander-in-chief after the Supreme Leader promoted him to major general. The anti-Israeli officer was appointed for the IRGC bench to follow Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who had sat on the bench since 2007. On April 13, Salami was quoted by the IRGC-run Tasnim media agency as saying that he and the organization were proud of being designated a "terrorist group" by the Trump administration.

Dozens of IRGC commanders have been relocated or fired in more than 20 provinces of the country. There is a careful balancing of power being carried out by the big players.

So, there would have to be major reasons for any possible coup by the IRGC. One of the reasons might be the death of Khamenei and the resulting power vacuum at the top of the Islamic pyramid. Another could be a massive uprising against the regime across the country. In that case, the IRGC would take power through the excuse of the Islamic government's inability to curtail protests. Another reason might be the IRGC’s ambition to install itself as a military caliphate.

Any foreign military invasion would unite the political and military rivals of the regime, rather than widen the gap between them. Iranians are nationalistic, and so will never tolerate any foreign military strike. But that counterproductive scenario is unlikely, since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the United States has ruled out military intervention in Iran.

To prepare for any of these scenarios, the international community should become aware of the role played by the IRGC and be ready to act accordingly. The West should understand the consequences of any action or announcements they make, as when Pompeo tells reporters that "We're careful not to use the language of regime change."

A militant-backed Khomeinist regime would be easier to undermine as it exists now than would be an IRGC military state armed to the teeth. Of course, Iranians dislike the ayatollahs as much as they hate the IRGC. But we need to be ready to deal with the terrorist-designated IRGC, which would be more dangerous than what we face today. It must be stopped now.

Aynaz Anni Cyrus, an Iranian-American human rights activist, founder of Live up to Freedom, producer of The Glazov Gang and National Director of American Truth Project.. Anni was sold for $50 as a child bride in Iran. Rebelling against a life of sex slavery, she escaped to America. Now an American citizen, she is a leading spokeswoman against the evils of Islam.

Kaveh Taheri (Twitter: @TaheriKaveh), co-founder and chairman of the ICBHR.Com, is a Turkey-based Iranian Human Rights researcher and journalist who has worked exclusively on Middle East. Kaveh, who was a former political prisoner in Shiraz, had been sent to prison for his writings and statements on his Websites and Weblogs in Iran and fled the country through Turkey to save his life.