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Iran’s leader to name Revolutionary Guard as regular army chief

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Iran Focus: London, Aug. 31 – Iran Focus has learnt from a senior officer in Iran’s regular armed forces that the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided to appoint Revolutionary Guards Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani as the new commander in chief of the regular armed forces. Iran Focus

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London, Aug. 31 – Iran Focus has learnt from a senior officer in Iran’s regular armed forces that the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided to appoint Revolutionary Guards Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani as the new commander in chief of the regular armed forces.

The move marks the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that swept the Shiite clerics to power in Iran that the regular armed forces fall under the command of a Revolutionary Guards officer.

Shamkhani was until last week Iran’s Defence Minister, a post that has no control over the armed forces, whose chain of command passes from senior military commanders to the Supreme Leader himself.

The decision is expected to be announced soon, the senior army officer said, adding that news of the change has been greeted with extraordinary resentment at the top echelons of the regular armed forces.

“To many of them, this is the ultimate humiliation”, the officer said, adding that he expected some senior officers to opt for early retirement rather than serve under Shamkhani. “Shamkhani destroyed the regular navy and effectively fused it into the far inferior Revolutionary Guards Navy. He might be on assignment to do likewise for the whole of the regular armed forces”.

Despite the superiority of the Revolutionary Guards as the ayatollahs’ trusted force, the regular army officers generally look down on their Islamist peers and consider them unprofessional extremists.

Iran has had a dual system of armed forces since 1979, with the regular armed forces assigned to guard the country’s borders and the Revolutionary Guards taking care of internal security, often acting as a secret police and an intelligence agency.

Iran Focus has learnt that in continuation of significant changes in the Revolutionary Guards high command, IRGC Deputy Commander Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr will leave his post to take up a senior position in the newly-formed “IRGC Centre for Strategy”.

Zolqadr is a trusted confidant of Ayatollah Khamenei and has been close friends with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for years. His departure from the IRGC high command will be the most significant change in the force’s command in recent years.

It also appears certain now that Brigadier General Gholam-Ali Rashid, another Revolutionary Guards veteran, will be replacing Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Firouzabadi is expected to retire from active duty.

Iran Focus first broke the news of key changes in the Revolutionary Guards high command on August 4, long before the first changes were effected. Less than two weeks ago, Khamenei, put Brigadier General Mohammad-Ali (Aziz) Jaafari in charge of forming “the IRGC Centre for Strategy”.

According to well-informed sources inside the Iranian bureaucracy, Supreme Leader Khamenei has ordered these changes in preparation for a possible military showdown. On Tuesday, Khamenei warned the new government that it must be on guard against “external enemies and adversaries, such as the dominating world powers, global tyrants, advocates of secularism, and international capitalists”.

The idea for the creation of the new centre for strategy came from Khamenei himself, who regularly receives the top IRGC commanders and closely follows their activities. He had 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.

The new centre will 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.

The planned changes will place the regular armed forces under the Revolutionary Guards, a move that will strengthen the radical military institution that now controls many of Iran’s key centres of power.

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