Iran regional policy will bolster IRGC political power

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Significance

Iran's armed forces have suffered a number of high-profile casualties in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks. General Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi was killed in an Israeli airstrike inside Syria in January, while General Hamid Taqavi was killed by the Islamic State group (ISG) in Iraq in late December. Taqavi was the highest-ranking officer to be killed since the Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988. Both men were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran's elite military force that conducts all of Tehran's military operations outside the country's borders. As rising instability threatens Iran's interests, the IRGC has stepped up its deployment across the region, raising the risk of military overstretch. Meanwhile, on the domestic front, the IRGC is at loggerheads with the government of President Hassan Rouhani as nuclear negotiations approach their next deadline.

Impacts

  • IRGC dominance in Tehran policy-making will prevent any wider rapprochement with Washington.
  • Resolution to the Syrian civil war will require regional political agreement involving Iran.
  • Tensions with Saudi Arabia are at risk of further escalation.
  • Demands on the defence budget will increase, raising fiscal strain on government.
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