Iran’s Rezaei returns to his military roots

A surprising story made the front pages of Iranian newspapers April 8: “Mohsen Rezaei is back in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC].” This move could be interpreted as the end of Rezaei’s political activities.

Rezaei is the IRGC’s fifth chief commander. He led this elite unit during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, nurturing it more than his predecessors and successors. Mohsen Rafigh Doost, who served as the IRGC minister before turning the corps into an independent military organization, had put forth Rezaei’s name as a candidate for the IRGC chief commander position to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 1981, Rezaei, 27 at the time, had abandoned his mechanical engineering studies at university before the 1979 revolution. He accepted the IRGC post and became one of the youngest military commanders in the world.

Rezaei was different from the IRGC’s former commanders. He dedicated his efforts to enhancing the tactical and scientific dimensions of the military. Having encountered disputes with fellow commanders, Rezaei said during a 1981 Friday prayer in Tehran, “We should accept that we are involved in a great revolution in which all the world has created an alliance against us, so we can’t overcome the war issue only by praying, we ought to increase our military science and technological power.”

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This article was written by Rohollah Faghihi for Al-Monitor on May 13, 2015. Rohollah Faghihi is a journalist who has worked for various Iranian media organizations including the Entekhab news site.