My Cardboard Box

Have You Hugged a Revolutionary Guard Today?

with 2 comments

There is a recent article in the Terrorism Monitor by a Hussain Mousavi regarding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and possible repercussions if the U.S. engages in a war with Iran, particularly in Iraq. Very little is in Mr. Mousavi’s biography. Much of the article does not really present anything new to those who’ve bothered to study the subjects in any detail. However there’s this:

The most dangerous development that could occur in the period prior to a military conflict between the United States and Iran is the development of an alliance between non-political Shiite organizations, like the Mahdi splinter groups, and the IRGC. The formation of such alliances could be prevented by encouraging the Iraqi government (with the possible assistance of al-Sadr and his militia) to find ways to locate, negotiate and incorporate these splinter groups into the Iraqi electoral process and governmental institutions.

I’m really amused at the phrase “could occur”. Given the level of attacks, the stockpiles found, the IRGC/Qods members arrested, and the to-and fro of Iraqi Shiites over the Iranian border, I’d say it’s a bit more certain than that. Surely al-Sadr isn’t going to Qom for the waters.

Also interesting is Mr. Mousavi’s take on al-Sadr and the Mahdi splinter groups, especially the method-of-prevention. One classic tactic of Middle-East terrorism and militias is the formation of ‘factions’ and ‘new’ splinter groups from established movements. Sometimes it’s for one operation, other times it’s more permanent. It gives the cover of plausible denial by the parent-group, while allowing it to exert pressure on the target audience. It also gives the parent-group an aura of moderation and authority when they enfold or ‘convince’ the faction or splinter group to behave. It’s not much of a stretch to think the same isn’t going on in Iraq.

Mr. Mousavi further writes:

There is a further threat of acting on bad intelligence from Iranian sources like the terrorist group Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), who may provide information to the coalition forces designed to expand a military conflict between the United States and Iran for their own political interests.

Yes, that’s possible. However, given that the current administration was burned on ‘helpful’ intelligence given by non-US sources with regards to Iraq, I’d say the likelihood of them being incredibly gullible this time isn’t great.

Lastly, the part that inspired the title of this screed:

What a policy of engagement consists of is not the “appeasement” of the Iranian government but its recognition as a regional power, and the understanding that the best way to contain Iran would depend not on external forces of pressure (e.g. UN sanctions or military attacks), but the weakening of the most radicalized faction of the IRGC, which seeks to keep Iran isolated for its own economic interests. In this sense, the most effective way to chip away at the IRGC’s power is to vigorously integrate it into the global economic and political system rather than isolate it.

I find it hard to square this with the development of the Busheur reactor by the Russians, courting of the Venezuelans and Chinese, and other potential diplomatic and economic partners, and the IRGC-supported Ahmenijihad government’s quest for outside assistance in modernizing its petroleum and chemical industries as trying to keep Iran economically isolated.

As for chipping away the IRGC’s power, it would seem that integration would give the IRGC more money to use and thus able to exert more influence domestically and outside the country. Sort of like curbing underage drinking by providing both a bar-tab and the key to the household liquor cabinet.

It gets better:

Similar to the Chinese military, the IRGC is now a major financial enterprise, but its economic power is unevenly distributed among its members. Many lower-ranking Guard militants come from the low-income sector of Iranian society and have leanings toward the reformist camp. Offering younger IRGC officers an opportunity to participate in regional and global markets could create division between senior and middle ranks within the Guard’s economic community.

I take it Mr. Mousavi has not considered ‘patronage’. One doesn’t get the goods unless one ascribes to an expected behavior. Given that the old guard will have control of the purse, guess which type of behavior and mindset will be encouraged?

Then there’s the corruption aspect. It’s already prevalent. There’s no reason to believe roses will spring from yet another manure pile.

We come to the finale:

As the sound of the drum-beat of confrontation increases, the call for unity within Iran also gets louder… The consequence of the policy of disengagement is that Iranian influence in Afghanistan and Iraq is enhanced by the growing military threat on Iran; this accordingly follows the empowerment of Iranian hardliners in the country’s domestic political circles with the looming threat of an invasion by a foreign force already occupying two of Iran’s neighbors. The irony of the U.S. policy of disengagement is that the more it aims to weaken IRGC through sanctions, the more it strengthens its military influence, and hence increases the chance of conflict in a region the United States has sought to stabilize for many years.

Among the benefits from having empowered hardliners have been mass arrests of Iranian youths, a crackdown on ‘improper’ behavior and dress, suppression of students, and increased control of the media. The Baseej have been given heavy weapons and training in combating civil insurrection. Nowhere in this article does Mr. Mousavi acknowledge Iranian economic fears, fear of impending conflict, rampant inflation, corruption, chronic high unemployment, drug use, self-inflicted financial instability etc.

Maybe encouraging a increasingly repressive and insecure regime is part of a plan of creating instability. There’s so much that could be argued here.

The oft-turned phrase is that leaders, in order to deflect attention from the problems at home, will focus attention elsewhere, usually with a war. Perhaps Mr. Mousavi should mention why the Iranian leadership is also vigorously beating its own drum.


Written by PappyBro

November 27, 2007 at 22:31

Posted in Media, Politix, WoT

2 Responses

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  1. The writer appears to subscribe to the notion that opening up relations with a country makes it a “friendly” nation while never having paused for even a moment to consider that Iran has been open to every major country on earth (except the US) for decades. Nor does it appear that he has ever checked this theory for supporting facts. China, for example, disproves this theory. Or, much closer to Iran, he could consider what US support for Saddams Iraq accomplished in terms of making Saddams Iraq a “friendly” as well as how little Iran Contra got us in terms of a peace loving Mullahocracy.

    Also, he touches on the possibility of a strike against Iran, but fails completely to accept that sanctions could be important in their muting effect on any potential retaliation. Less money equals less potential retaliation. It takes not an experienced strategist to figure that out.

    If the writer doesn’t mind, I’ll take a pass on that hug.


    November 28, 2007 at 13:21

  2. a prolonged neck hug can sometimes disrupt all blood flow and oxygen to the brain (I had an aunt…don’t ask). I’d propose a hug for “RG’s”

    Frank G

    December 1, 2007 at 20:29

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