Iran's Revolutionary guard

Defenders of the Islamic revolution and military counterpower

An ideological, political, and economic force central to Iran's stability and regional policy

Guardia revolucionaria
Soldados firmes durante un desfile de la Guardia Revolucionaria Iraní
Cesar Calvo Marin Cesar Calvo Marin

The establishment of the Revolutionary Guard of Iran, officially known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), dates back to the tumultuous aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Conceived to protect the nascent Shiite clerical system of government, the IRGC was designed to act as a counterbalance to Iran’s regular armed forces. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the architect of the revolution, was instrumental in its formation, ensuring the Guard’s direct supervision under the supreme leader—currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields the highest political and spiritual authority in Iran.

The Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s regular army serve different yet complementary roles. While the regular army is tasked with the conventional defense of the country, the Revolutionary Guard is an ideological force entrusted with a broader range of responsibilities. The IRGC oversees not only the army, but also the navy and the air force, encompassing approximately 125,000 military personnel. Its true power, however, is most evident in its command over Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is reputed to be the largest in the Middle East according to international analysts.

In terms of structure and operations, the regular army functions with a traditional military hierarchy, focusing on territorial defense and conventional military engagements. The Revolutionary Guard, in contrast, exercises substantial influence over both the internal and external politics of Iran. Beyond its military duties, it is deeply entrenched in the economic and business spheres, managing a vast empire that includes industries such as construction and energy. This dual role—military and economic—affords the Guard a unique position of power within Iranian society.

One of the most significant arenas where the Revolutionary Guard exerts its influence is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through its elite extraterritorial unit, the Quds Force, the IRGC has provided extensive financial, logistical, and military support to groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. These organizations have been pivotal in the ongoing armed resistance against Israel, with Iranian support further intensifying regional tensions. The involvement of the IRGC in these conflicts highlights its strategic importance not only as a defender of the Iranian regime but also as a key player in Middle Eastern geopolitics.

The actions of this ideological, political, and economic force central to Iran’s stability and regional policy have frequently drawn the ire of the United States. Attacks by pro-Iranian militias on American positions in the Middle East have placed the IRGC in the crosshairs of U.S. foreign policy. This antagonism reflects the profound and ongoing rivalry between Iran and the United States, a dynamic characterized by a series of economic sanctions and indirect military confrontations.

The overarching mission of the Revolutionary Guard is to protect the Islamic government system that was established following the 1979 Revolution. This system, which is based on Islamic law and governed by the Shiite clergy, has been under the vigilant protection of the IRGC. Over the past 43 years, the Guard has been a steadfast defender against both internal and external threats to the regime. Recent protests, such as those triggered by the murder of Mahsa Amini, underscore the ongoing challenges faced by the IRGC in maintaining stability and upholding the regime’s authority.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is much more than a military entity. It is an ideological, political, and economic powerhouse that plays a central role in the life of the nation and in the broader geopolitics of the region. Since its inception, it has been fundamental in safeguarding the Islamic regime and extending Iran’s influence beyond its borders. The Guard’s ability to mobilize resources and exert influence continues to be a critical factor in Iran’s internal stability and its domestic and foreign policies.

In the decades since its creation, the IRGC has evolved into a multifaceted institution that integrates military prowess with political and economic influence. Its role extends far beyond traditional military operations, encompassing various sectors of Iranian society and governance. The Guard’s pervasive presence in economic ventures underscores its importance in Iran’s internal dynamics, while its involvement in regional conflicts highlights its strategic significance on the global stage.

As the IRGC continues to navigate the complex landscape of Middle Eastern politics, its actions and decisions will remain crucial to understanding the future trajectory of Iran. Whether through direct military engagement, economic initiatives, or political maneuvers, the Revolutionary Guard will undoubtedly continue to shape the contours of Iranian policy and regional stability. Its capacity to adapt and respond to emerging challenges will be key in determining its effectiveness in fulfilling its foundational mission: the defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Cesar Calvo Marin

Soy estudiante de periodismo de la Universitat Abat Oliba de Barcelona. Estoy muy interesado en la política de España y del resto del mundo y mi sueño es dedicarme al periodismo político.