Pasdaran - Leadership
Command and control structures not only in the civilian government but especially in the military government and especially in the IRGC are very linear. It is unlikely that un-authorized actions would happen without clear directives through commanding officers, through lines of ranks.
The Pasdaran was first led by Mostafa Chamran Savei, an Iranian scientist. He graduated from Tehran University as top graduate. In the late 1960s, he moved to the United States for higher education, obtaining an M.S. degree from the Texas A&M University. He then went on to obtain his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Physics in Plasma in 1963 from the University of California, Berkeley. He was then hired as a senior research staff scientist at Bell Laboratories and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chamran, motivated by the sufferings of people in Middle East abandoned his seemingly high profile life in Berkeley and became a leading and founding member of the Islamic revolutionary movement in the Middle East, organizing and training guerrillas and revolutionary forces in Algeria, Egypt, Syria, especially Amal Movement in southern Lebanon. He served as Defense Minister and Member of Parliament, as well as commander of paramilitary volunteers in the Sacred Defense against the western backed invading Saddam forces. Chamran was martyred in 1981 in action during the course of the war.
Moshen Reza’i [aka Mohsen Rezaei, Mohsen Rezaee] served as the commander of the IRGC between 1981-1997. [Other accounts claim he was was the main commander of the Sepah-e Pasdaran from September 1981 to September 1988. Mohsen Rezaee [real name Sabzevar Rezaee Mir-Ghaed] was born in 1955 in Lali, near Masjed Soleiman. The Expediency Council’s executive officer is former Revolutionary Guard commander-in-chief Mohsen Reza’i. He was a candidate in the June 12, 2009, presidential election. He came third with 1.73% of the vote. The Council of Guardians decided on the final candidates on May 20 — permitting only four to run: Ahmadinejad, Musavi, Mehdi Karrubi, and Mohsen Reza‘i.
Yahya Rahim Safavi [aka Rahim SAFAVI, aka Sayed YAHYA SAFAVI, aka Yahia RAHIM SAFAWI, aka Yahya Rahim AL-SIFAWI, aka Yahya Rahim SAFAVI, aka Yahya RAHIM-SAFAVI ], head of the IRGC since 1997, was dismissed as commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guards ( Pasdarans ) in August 2007. Khamenei then appointed Safavi as his advisor for military affairs. The dismissal of general Yahya Rahim Safavi disrupted the balance of power in Iran to the advantage of conservatives. Analysis in the international press considered the removal of Yahya Rahim Safavi to be a sign of change in the defense strategies of Iran, but the general policies of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are not personally determined by its commander.
Safavi was replaced on 31 August 2007 by his long-standing rival, Mohamed Ali Jaafari Sahrourdi (also known as Aziz or Ali Jafari). Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari was promoted him to major general.
There were rumors pointing to a deep conflict between Yahya Rahim Safavi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but these were not well founded. By one account the new head of the Revolutionary Guard, Ali Jafari, was from a conservative sub-faction opposed to the more radical elements allied with Ahmadinejad. The former Guard head Yahya Rahim-Safavi, was said to be too openly sympathetic to the president. Others argued to the contrary that the hard-liners had counterattacked by installing a new head of the Revolutionary Guard who had written on revitalizing the Islamic revolution, worldwide. By this account Safavi was reportedly critical of Ahmadinejad, whereas Jafari was said to be a close associate of the President. A third view was that Khamenei's decision to replace Yahya Rahim-Safavi complied with the general rule of authoritarian regimes to rotate senior military commanders in order to prevent the rise of powerful military rivals. In any event, Safavi was appointed advisor and senior aide for armed forces affairs to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on September 1, 2007.
Observers claimed that two separate groups had been working for Safavi's ouster. One was a group internal to the IRGC which reportedly differed with Safavi over how the IRGC was being administered. This group included 11 commanders, of which Jafari was the most significant one, and was supported by former IRGC head Mohsen Rezaie, later secretary of the Expediency Council. The second, external group was reportedly led by Deputy Interior Minister for security affairs Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, formerly deputy IRGC commander, considered ultra-right wing. This group reportedly had political differences with Safavi and thought he was too moderate.
One apparent cause of friction between Safavi and Zolqadr was Zolqadr's alleged continued dominance over the Qods Force, as well as the IRGC counter-intelligence unit. Zolqadr, before moving to the Interior Ministry, reportedly put his own people in both organizations and retained significant influence over both organizations. The Ramazan force, led by Zolqadr, operated inside Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war but was no longer in existence.
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