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Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Rise of the Guards

Now that Iran has held it's most recent election, it appears the appeasers are going to have their work cut out for them.

With many of the more liberal or reformist candidates disqualified, the conservatives look certain to consolidate control in the parliament. But this election could mark an important change in Iran. A crucial marker in the rising power of the military.

The Revolutionary Guards have been steadily gaining power since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took power nearly three years.

Former Guards commanders, including the president himself, have many of the top jobs in the government. Now former members of the Revolutionary Guards are expecting to win many seats in parliament, eclipsing the power of the Shia Muslim clergy.
"I can tell you that military forces are impatient to have more political power and impact" Saeed Leylaz, Former Revolutionary Guards officer
Growing Authoritarianism
BBC

As part of that trend, Iran is becoming a more authoritarian country.
Dissent is being ruthlessly suppressed. Anti-government demonstrations are almost unheard of.

The human rights lawyer and Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi, says it is a symptom of an unpopular government.
"When a government strongly supported by its people, it is not afraid of critics, and has a high tolerance for dissent. But a weak government is usually afraid of its critics. This is a government that is not popular as it wishes."

The West also has plenty to fear from the rise of the Iranian military.

The Revolutionary Guard, after all, are the ones who captured the British sailors last year, and are blamed by the Americans for supporting insurgents in Iraq, and supplying weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas.

So as the military tighten their grip on the Iranian government, expect an ever more uncompromising line on the nuclear issue, and even more active intervention across the Middle East.

If this trend continues, we definitely need a president who has the knowledge and ability to deal with it. Appeasers need not apply.

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