Controversies surrounding Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution

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Since the establishment of Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Sepah Pasdaran) the organization has been involved in economic and military activities, some of them controversial.

Human Rights Abuses[edit]

The IRGC has been known to regularly practice torture and various other human rights abuses in order to suppress internal dissent. In 1993, Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Naghdi as deputy director of intelligence of the Quds Force, a branch of the IRGC responsible for international operations. Naghdi and his team allegedly committed numerous acts of torture and abuse.[1][2]


The AGIR have been accused of corruption,[by whom?] including the importation of illegal alcoholic beverages into the Islamic Republic.[3] In 2005, the IRGC was discovered to be running an illegal airport near Karaj City, close to Tehran, where they imported and exported goods with no government oversight.[3] In 2004, the Pasdaran stormed the new Tehran airport just after it had been officially opened and shut it down, ostensively for security reasons. According to their critics, however, it was shut because the company hired to operate the airport was a Turkish "competitor of a Pasdaran owned business".[4] It was later reopened under Pasdaran management.[3]

One Majlis member stated that IRGC black-market activities might account for $12 billion per year.[5] Yet at the same time, IRGC and Basij forces have been commended for their positive role in fighting illegal smuggling—a further illustration of the institution’s multidimensional and frequently contradictory nature.

The IRGC is charged with enforcing Iran's morals laws. With no oversight, the IRGC has simply moved to control the rackets in Iran and eliminate any major competitors to the prostitution, alcohol, cigarettes, and heroin businesses.[citation needed]

Whether the IRGC itself, or high-ranking members of the IRGC, are behind the prostitution rackets in the European Union is a matter of dispute. What is not in dispute is that thousands of Iranian prostitutes earn substantial amounts of hard currency annually working throughout the EU.[citation needed]

Involvement with Hezbollah[edit]

The AGIR's logo was inspiration for the logo of Hezbollah. The IRG provided military training to Hezbollah fighters in the Bekaa valley during the early eighties.[6] Other Lebanese parties[who?] have expressed concern about this relationship, but remained neutral as they saw the AGIR's presence in Lebanon as resistance against Israeli presence. This came despite the ongoing fight between the Lebanese Amal militias and the PLO and its Sunni allies.

According to Jane's Information Group:

Any Hezbollah member receiving military training is likely to do so at the hands of IRGC [the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps], either in southern Lebanon or in camps in Iran. The increasingly sophisticated methods used by IRGC members indicates that they are trained using Israeli and US military manuals; the emphasis of this training is on the tactics of attrition, mobility, intelligence gathering and night-time manoeuvres.[7]

Involvement with Hamas[edit]

According to the New York Times, Hamas fighters are possibly being trained in urban assault tactics by the IRG.[8]

Alleged involvement in the Iraq War[edit]

The United States Department of Defense has repeatedly asserted IRG involvement in the Iraq War against Iranian denials, though the U.S. has stopped short of saying the central government of Iran is responsible for the actions.[9] In May 2008, Iraq said it had no evidence that Iran was supporting militants on Iraqi soil.[10] According to a database compiled by the Multi-National Task Force's Iraq Task Force Troy, Iranian-made weapons accounted for only a negligible percentage of weapon caches found in Iraq.[11] The U.S. charges come as Iran and Turkey have complained that U.S.-supplied guns are flowing from Iraq to anti-government militants on their soil.[12][13]

The Department has reported that it has intelligence reports of heavy Islamic Revolutionary Guard involvement in Iraq in which the force is supplying Iraqi insurgents.[14] It is further claimed that US soldiers have been killed by Iranian-made or designed explosive devices. This claim is disputed by Iran, saying that the bulk of American military deaths in Iraq are due to a Sunni insurgency and not a Shiite one. Two different studies have maintained that approximately half of all foreign insurgents entering Iraq come from Saudi Arabia.[15][16] Iran further disputes that former Iraqi army personnel, whom, prior to the 2003 invasion, the US and UK claimed were capable of deploying advanced missile systems capable of launching WMDs within 45 minutes,[17][18] would be incapable of designing and producing improvised explosive devices.[citation needed]

The U.S. charges of Iranian support come as Iran and Turkey have complained that U.S.-supplied guns are flowing from Iraq to anti-government militants on their soil.[12][13][19] The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of the US Congress, said in a report that the Pentagon cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces.[20] Security analysts with the Center for Defense Information, along with one senior Pentagon official, suggested that some of the weapons have probably made their way in to the hands of Iraqi insurgents.[21] Italian arms investigators also recently stopped Iraqi government officials from illegally shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into Iraq.[12][13] In November 2008, the U.S. State Department prepared to slap a multimillion-dollar fine on Blackwater for shipping hundreds of automatic weapons to Iraq without the necessary permits. Some of the weapons were believed to have ended up on the country’s black market.[22]

In January 2007 the US army detained five Iranians in northern Iraq, claiming they were Ghods operatives of the AGIR, providing military assistance to Shiite militias, without offering any further evidence that lends credibility to such claims. The Iranian and Iraqi governments maintain that they were diplomats working for the Iranian consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan. The "IRGC cadres" were released as a negotiated deal for British sailors under the auspices of General Suleimani.

In December 2009 evidence uncovered during an investigation by the Guardian newspaper and Guardian Films linked the Quds force to the kidnappings of 5 Britons from a government ministry building in Baghdad in 2007. Three of the hostages, Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan, were killed. Alan Mcmenemy's body was never found but Peter Moore was released on 30 December 2009. The investigation uncovered evidence that Moore, 37, a computer expert from Lincoln was targeted because he was installing a system for the Iraqi Government that would show how a vast amount of international aid was diverted to Iran's militia groups in Iraq. One of the alleged groups funded by the Quds force directly is the Righteous League, which emerged in 2006 and has stayed largely in the shadows as a proxy of the al-Quds force. Shia cleric and leading figure of the Righteous League, Qais al-Khazali, was handed over by the US military for release by the Iraqi government on December 29, 2009 as part of the deal that led to the release of Moore.[23]

Labeling by the United States as a "Terrorist Organization"[edit]

On October 25, 2007, the United States labeled the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) as "terrorist organizations" with the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment.[24] The Iranian Parliament responded by approving a nonbinding resolution labeling the CIA and the U.S. Army "terrorist organizations". The resolution cited U.S. involvement in dropping nuclear bombs in Japan in World War II, using depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, bombing and killing Iraqi civilians, and torturing terror suspects in prisons among others.[25]

When Voice of America, the official external radio and television broadcasting service of the United States federal government, asked if the IRGC is supplying weapons to the Taliban, the current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, laughed and said the US doesn't want Iran to be friends with Afghanistan. "What is the reason they are saying such things?" asked Ahmadinejad.[26]

Financial sanctions[edit]

UN Security Council in several sanctions resolutions have voted in favour of freezing the assets of top Revolutionary Guard commanders.[27]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ The rise of Iranian Dictatorship
  2. ^ Newsweek Reporter Tortured
  3. ^ a b c The Iran Agenda by Reese Erlich, Robert (FRW) Scheer
  4. ^ Roy, Olivier, The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East, Columbia University Press, 2008, p.133, 130
  5. ^
  6. ^ (Baer, R, See No Evil, 2002, Three Rivers Press, page 250)
  7. ^ Group Profile: Hezbollah. Jane's Information Group. 26 July 2006. Accessed 8 September 2006
  8. ^ Mark Mazzetti, "Striking Deep Into Israel, Hamas Employs an Upgraded Rocket Arsenal," New York Times, January 1, 2009.
  9. ^ Iran's Revolutionary Guards patrol Persian Gulf, U.S. says
  10. ^ AFP: 'No evidence' Iran backs militias - Baghdad
  11. ^ Lebanon Star: Iraq, US differ on Iran's role in military pact
  12. ^ a b c Italian arms investigators see Iraqi ties
  13. ^ a b c Pentagon probes if US arms for Iraq diverted to Turkey
  14. ^ Tisdall, Simon (2007-05-22). "Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  15. ^ The battle for Saudi hearts and minds
  16. ^ Saudis' role in Iraq insurgency outlined
  17. ^ British Intelligence Dossier on Iraq's WMD
  18. ^ Iraq WMD claims 'seriously flawed'
  19. ^ Weapons for Iraq sent astray
  20. ^ Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing
  21. ^ Iraqis ‘lose’ thousands of US
  22. ^ Boston Herald: Blackwater faces fine for illegally shipping arms to Iraq
  23. ^ Grandjean, Guy (2009-12-30). "Revealed: hand of Iran behind Britons' Baghdad kidnapping". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  24. ^ Fact Sheet: Designation of Iranian Entities and Individuals for Proliferation Activities and Support for Terrorism
  25. ^ Iran's parliament votes to label CIA, U.S. Army 'terrorist' groups
  26. ^ Ahmadinejad Makes First Visit to Afghanistan
  27. ^ "SECURITY COUNCIL TIGHTENS RESTRICTIONS ON IRAN’S PROLIFERATION-SENSITIVE NUCLEAR". Security Council:Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 

Further reading[edit]