July 30, 2020
The growing role and power of the IRGC is a critical factor shaping the power structure of Iran and the level of stability and security in the Gulf. It is a critical factor affecting the future of Iraq as well. This commentary by Munqith Dagher presents an Iraqi view of just how serious a challenge the IRGC has become.
Munqith Dagher brings an important perspective to the issue because he served as a General and national defense professor in the previous Iraqi army. Munqith also has since, conducted hundreds of public opinion surveys and studies in Iraq and the MENA region – many dealing with security issues. He is currently the director of the MENA region in the Gallup International Association and an external affiliate at CSIS.
For many years in Iran, the interactions between the powers of religious authorities, military institutions, and the merchant class in the Bazaar have played a significant role in the formation of Iran’s structure of authority and politics.1 It was this interaction that played a key role in leading to the revolution in 1979 when the Bazaari (which was struggling with the official governing authorities) allied with the religious authorities to overthrow the Shah’s regime.
When the government was taken over by Khomeini and the religious authorities, the military, on the one hand, and the senior professionals and bureaucrats of the opposition, on the other hand, were distanced from the institutions of governance. The Iranian revolution then proceeded to devour its original founders and form a new structure of power based on revolutionary and religious legitimacy.
The resulting combination of hard-line religious discourse and revolutionary discourse ensured stability for the new regime. It also helped to create the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) during the Iran-Iraq War. This force came to play – and still plays – the role of the king maker in Iran.
The Iran-Iraq War lasted eight years from 1980-1988, and fundamentally transformed the power structure in Iran. The military elite that existed under the Shah was completely destroyed, not only due to battles with the Iraqi army, but also because of the deeply rooted feelings among the religious authorities that the military was not loyal to them. At the same time, the Bazaari class, which was the main ally of the keepers of the mosques and shrines in Iran, suffered incredible economic losses that were estimated by official Iranian sources to total half a trillion dollars.2
In both cases the IRGC swept in to push these two sets of actors out of positions of power and to replace them as a key source of political authority in Iran. The IRGC rose from being the military arm of the Islamic revolution in 1979 to a major political player. Today, this raises critical questions about the ways the IRGC will be able to shape the political future of Iran.
The Emergence and Growth of the IRGC
A key factor in the growth of the IRGC’s power was the lack of trust the religious authorities had in the traditional Iranian military and the Bazaari class. This led the ruling clerics to form their own ideological military arm to defend the 1979 revolution and its achievements. This meant that the IRGC was given both a constitutionally legitimate existence and the legal right to become involved in the political scene in order to defend the revolutionary regime and its policies. The Iran-Iraq war not only created the opportunity for the IRGC to prove its allegiance to the regime but also to become the main military power that defends Iran from the “greed” of other states and from any attempts to overthrow the revolution.3
It was the alliance between the IRGC and Khamenei, after his selection as Supreme Leader in June 1989, that had the greatest impact on the growth of the IRGC’s influence and power. Many sources indicate that Khamenei was elected because the religious authorities (then led by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani) believed that he would not have strong religious or scholarly status as the new Supreme Leader – or even the network needed to make him Iran’s strongman, which would make him easy to manipulate.4
It seems that Khamenei was aware of his weak position in the face of the powerful religious authorities and their most influential man, Rafsanjani, and he set about creating a strong relationship with the IRGC. This, in turn, allowed the IRGC to sharply increase its economic and political influence in the nineties.
Other entities competing for power realized the danger that the IRGC’s rise posed to their authority, and they attempted to curb the IRGC’s growing power but failed. Khatami tried to limit the powers of the IRGC during his presidency and was backed by the support of the Bazaari class. He failed in doing so, not only due to the opposition from the conservative forces (led by the Supreme Leader) but also because the IRGC itself directly resisted this attempt. When Khatami ran for the presidency again in 2005, the IRGC played a key role in ensuring that Ahmadinejad won instead of him.5
This action started a wave of popular unrest in Iran. Protesters accused the IRGC of cooperating with the Supreme Leader in an attempt to stop the Reformists from reaching power, thus keeping Iran under the control of the hard-liners. It became the defining moment for the rise of the IRGC’s political power.6 It also led to political disputes among the IRGC’s leaders over a number of issues affecting its role in civilian power and politics.
One of the first, important examples of this dispute was the resignation of Ayatollah Montazeri in 1989. At the time, Montazeri was regarded as the most likely candidate to succeed Khomeini. It was widely known that a significant number of the leaders of the IRGC supported him. However, the IRGC leaders did not have a unified position regarding the changes Khamenei was determined to bring about.
In July 1999, 24 of the IRGC’s leaders sent a strong message to President Khatami, warning him not to remain passive about the street protests they felt were threatening the country’s stability.7 Yet, other former IRGC leaders, such as General Ali Rabiei and General Ali Reza, did not sign that letter as they did not support a crackdown.
Another example of this intra-IRGC feuding is Ali Larijani, a hard-liner, who was removed from his position as the Chief Commissioner of the nuclear deal negotiations with the P5+1 countries. He was replaced with Saed Jalili, who was also a former Corps leader and had a more conciliatory in his approach to the West as well as a very different vision of the goals Iran should pursue. Thus, the IRGC should not be viewed as a monolithic organization with a completely unified leadership.
A specialized IRGC intelligence organization (Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) was formed within the IRGC during Ahmadinejad’s presidency – who had been a former volunteer in the Corps. This new agency became at least as powerful if not more than the Ministry of National Security and Intelligence. Ahmadinejad also appointed dozens of IRGC leaders to crucial positions in the state to increase their dominance. This resulted in the diversion of millions of dollars in governmental contracts to the IRGC. Furthermore, when the Ministry of National Security and Intelligence failed to stop the popular uprising of 2009, the Supreme Leader gave even more power to the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC – powers that surpassed those of the Ministry of National Security and Intelligence.
The IRGC’s ability to control the Iranian economy was strengthened even further after American sanctions were imposed in 2010, as the IRGC started to establish dozens of companies to act as fronts to circumvent the sanctions through large-scale operations of smuggling.8 This increase in the influence and authority of the IRGC provoked jealousy and anger in institutions that were marginalised, such as the Ministry of National Security and Intelligence, because they could challenge the IRGC.
The Current Position of the IRGC
The IRGC has now become a main center of power that has control of many aspects of Iran’s politics. It is an organization that definitely has to be reckoned with, even by the religious authorities. It has also shown great capability to sustain its structure of authority and power by making alliances with other influential powers. It draws upon its two most important sources of political power (money and arms), to reach agreements with the traditional influencers in Iran (the religious authorities, the Bazaari class, the bureaucracy, and the military).
Despite that, the IRGC does face a major challenge in terms of its sensing growing marginalization and threat from its competitors. The religious authorities have been weakened by the alliance between the Supreme Leader and the IRGC. Khamenei, who has ruled the country since 1989, is now over 80 years old, has recovered from prostate cancer, and is now thinking seriously about his successor.
To avoid a potential clash over the succession between the Principalists Party and the less hard-line figures, Khamenei chose an Assembly of Experts, which, according to the constitution, chooses and appoints the successor to the Supreme Leader. Most of the members of this Assembly are now elderly individuals who are known to be under Khamenei’s tight grip. Some observers believe that Khamenei’s potential successor will be Mojtaba, his son. However, most informed observers believe the more likely candidate to become the Supreme Leader will be Ebrahim Raisi. Raisi became custodian of Iran’s holiest shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad in 2016 and was made Chief Justice succeeding Larijani in 2019.
Regardless of who ends up being Khamenei’s successor, the IRGC is preparing to have an even greater role in power by shaping the selection of a strongly influential president who will give the Corps more authority and power in governance than the Supreme Leader himself. Being so close to Khamenei, Qasem Soleimani was poised for this role. He was also well-situated to play a major role in choosing the successor to Khamenei because of his dominance within the IRGC.
However, Soleimani’s unexpected assassination seems to have shuffled the cards and allowed a new competition for authority to resurface amongst the traditional institutions of power. The challengers to the IRGC’s dominance have found the absence of Soleimani’s charismatic leadership a prime opportunity to be seized in their attempts to shrink the power of the IRGC and to regain some of their lost status.
What seems to have helped strengthen the traditional powers of influence and authority (the bureaucracy, the traditional state institutions, as well as the traditional religious authorities) are the challenging circumstances that Iran is currently experiencing. The country’s situation has led many to blame the IRGC’s dominance and hard-line positions which were supported by Khamenei. In other words, the IRGC now finds itself being strongly attacked by competing centers of power in Iran. The absence of a replacement leader with Soleimani’s status and power is playing an important role in the Corps’ inability to stop such attacks.
The factors aiding competing powers to challenge the IRGC’s authority can be summarised as follows:
- The Economic Crisis:
Iran’s improved economic performance between 2018 and 2020 was of great significance not only because of the growth of its economic capacity but also the tremendous growth of the IRGC’s economic potential. The IRGC has become the most powerful controller of all important economic sectors across Iran.
When the war against Iraq came to an end in 1988, Iran focussed all of its efforts on developing its various economic sectors with an emphasis on communication, transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure, and improving its connections with neighboring countries. This progress took place in spite of the sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Iran during that time, which prevented American companies from having any dealings with Iran that surpassed 20 million dollars with the exception of the pharmaceutical and medical equipment sectors.
Despite that, Iran proceeded with its ambitious economic, civilian, ad military nuclear programs. Iran was able to achieve a claimed economic growth rate averaging 3.9% per year for the period of 1991-2003 followed by 6.3% annually until 2010. There was also an increased liquidity of over 33% during the same period accompanied by a decrease in the rate of inflation from 25% to 16%, an increase of investment from 4% to 12%, a growth in non-oil exports from 5.6% to 10.7%, a decrease in the rate of those under the poverty line from 15% to only 7%, as well as a decrease in the rate of unemployment to reach only 7% in 2010.9 All this resulted in an increase in the Iranian GDP to reach around half a trillion dollars according to the World Bank estimates.10
This strong Iranian economic performance occurred at a time when the IRGC had growing economic power – so much so that some western sources estimated the extent of the economy controlled by the IRGC to be around one to two thirds of Iran’s GDP – which further contributed to the IRGC’s economic influence. American sanctions did not shrink the influence of the IRGC. Instead, they effectively increased its power as the IRGC created dozens of companies to act as fronts to circumvent the sanctions by engaging in activities such as smuggling oil and other resources to ultimately channel the proceeds back to the IRGC’s budget.
The IRGC now owns businesses in the oil and gas sectors, as well as land, marine, and air transportation. The IRGC-owned company, Khatam al-Anbiya, established as the IRGC’s arm in the construction sector, currently controls 812 officially registered Iranian companies which have a total of some 1,700 governmental contracts. Another IRGC-owned company has also recently bought a 51% stake in the Iranian Telecommunications company that was privatized at a value of 5 billion dollars.11
This immense expansion in the IRGC’s sources of economic power has raised the attention of the American administration, which has redesigned its sanctions to be able to scrutinize the economic activities of the IRGC more closely by adding the names of many of the IRGC’s companies and its leaders onto the lists of the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctioned entities. These sanctions have resulted in great losses not only to the IRGC but to the economy of Iran as a whole.
The World Bank predicts that Iran will experience negative growth rates between 3-6% during the next three years and inflation rates increasing by 20% annually. The value of the Iranian currency plummeted to reach 42,265 tomans for one US dollar at the beginning of March 2020. Iranian oil exports also decreased to a far lower value, totalling only 343 thousand barrels daily down from 2.5 million in 2018.12 This led to Iran applying for a 5 billion dollar loan that was refused by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).13
This has changed Iranian popular reactions as well. Previous Iranian economic crises have resulted in protests against the religious authorities with slogans such as “death to Khamenei,” “religious leaders must go,” and “religious leaders: give us back our money!” The protests that began in autumn 2019 had a different character. They directed their criticism at the IRGC, denounced the role of Iran in regional feuds, and chanted slogans such as: “No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran,” and “Leave Syria, think about us!”14 It is clear that the current economic crisis has placed the IRGC in direct confrontation with the Iranian street, which is disgruntled with its policies.
- Legitimacy Crisis:
There is a broader political crisis affecting the IRGC. Faezeh Rafsanjani, the daughter of the former president and the prominent religious leader, Akbar Rafsanjani, and a former member of the Parliament of Iran, believes that the Iranian regime is not salvageable due to its crisis of legitimacy. Nader Hashemi, a professor at Denver University and a prominent Iranian scholar, also agrees that the legitimacy crisis is the main problem currently facing the Iranian regime.15
One of the leaders of the Reformist Party with strong relations to current officials stated that 85% of Iranians hate the current regime and that this regime is unable to reform itself from within.16 An American journalist who managed to travel to Iran also noted the deafening silence that greeted the state-organized public celebrations of the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. When President Rouhani stepped out to address the nation, the public’s anger at the revolution was clear.17
Iranian youth are a key factor. The average age of the Iranian population is 30 years old, which, according to the scholar Hashemi, explains why there is difficulty in accepting the regime’s reliance on religion to justify its legitimacy. Hashemi refers to two significant incidents that took place. The first one is the threat made by a prominent Iranian leader to import fighters from abroad, including the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq (PMF), to defend the Iranian Islamic Revolution in the event Iranians cannot defend it themselves. The second incident is the speech by Ayatollah Muhammad-Taqi Yazdi in late December 2018, where he admitted that the regime is facing a crisis with the youths’ values of democracy and freedom are starting to be more prevalent and are displacing the value of allegiance to religion.18
There have been large public demonstrations that have taken place in close succession from autumn 2019 through June 2020. They are clear evidence of the extent of the corrosion of the regime’s public support. Since the IRGC derives its legitimacy from being the constitutionally mandated protector of the revolution and also practically from its alliance with the Supreme Leader, it seems that the IRGC is approaching a difficult phase of having to confront the people. This was crystal clear in the chants and slogans that protesters used in the demonstrations this June.
This legitimacy crisis is currently being exacerbated by the regime’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The regime has put its own interests and ideology before its citizens’ worth and well-being. Iran was one of the first countries affected by the disease spreading from China, and it soon became the epicentre for the infection in the Middle East (included in the top ten countries worldwide with the highest infection rates).
Nevertheless, the regime tried to conceal these facts from the Iranian population and the rest of the world, and this greatly undermined its legitimacy. A New Yorker article described a “Doctor Azad” at a hospital in the Iranian city of Gorgan, who suspected the cause of death of one of his patients to be the coronavirus back in December 2019. He was given clear instructions by the authorities to not disclose this information. The Iranian authorities kept this fact hidden and life continued unchanged.
In addition, the airline Mahan Air (affiliated with the IRGC) continued its regular flights to the Chinese city of Wuhan weeks after the official announcement that this city was the source of the pandemic. Iran did not declare the pandemic until the February 19, two days before the scheduled parliamentary elections. Yet, by then, there were hundreds of deaths due to the virus. The Washington Post also published aerial photos in mid-March showing what looks like mass graves for the deceased due to the coronavirus in Iran, which have not been officially reported by the state.19
- Leadership and Succession Crisis:
The assassination of Soleimani in January 2020 has been another key development. It resulted in the complete overhaul of the plan for a regime of dual authority with a successor Supreme Leader, on the one hand, and Qasem Soleimani as the potential new president, on the other hand.20
Many observers predicted that there would be no drastic change in the role and behaviour of the IRGC after the killing of Soleimani due to the institutionalization and strong bureaucracy that it acquired since its establishment.21 What has actually happened in the few recent months has proven such prediction to be wrong. Events have shown that Soleimani was running a one-man show.
I was told by an Iraqi individual close to the scene – who also happened to be at a meeting of the new IRGC leader, General Esmail Qaani, with the Iraqi Shia leaders this Spring – that the Shia leaders were surprised that, contrary to what they were accustomed to from Soleimani, the new leader was accompanied by a whole crew of assistants who specialised in various fields and that he was allowing these assistants to participate in talks and discussions. The Iraqi Shia leaders found this odd and in stark contrast to what they were used to with Soleimani – who always led the discussions in all matters and never had assistants with him.
The meeting of the new IRGC leader with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (who was the Director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service at the time and was accused of being an American operative involved in the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis) sent a strong message to the allies of Iran in Iraq about the beginning of a new era for the IRGC and its regional policies. It was a meeting that paved the way for Al-Kadhimi to become the Prime Minister at a later stage. It is clear that the choice of General Esmail Qaani as a successor to Soleimani is, in itself, a strong message about the shift in the IRGC’s approach in the Arab Region.
Although Qaani is a professional military man, all his experience stems from his work in Africa and South Asia, especially Afghanistan and Pakistan, while he lacks experience in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria22. It seems that the IRGC has decided to shift from the solo leadership that depended on Soleimani’s charisma, to an institutionalized, shared leadership. This seems to be a wise decision for the following reasons:
- It is difficult to find an immediate replacement for Soleimani, especially since it seems that he did not allow for such a replacement to exist and also since his assassination was not expected.
- It would decrease the likelihood of an internal power struggle within the IRGC, especially with the long history of such struggles within the institution of the IRGC.
- It would relax the hard-line approach that Soleimani followed, not only outside but also inside Iran. It is well known that the resignation of Mohammed Javad Zarif, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, was an act of protest against being ignored by Soleimani who invited the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to visit Iran without notifying the foreign ministry about the matter.
- It will allow more flexibility in responding to the demands of the Iranian street that are calling for Iran to retreat from its military operations in the Arab region.
What Could be Expected in the Near Future
Despite the IRGC’s inability to radically change its posture as an aggressive protector of the Islamic Revolution due to structural and ideological reasons on which its legitimacy was built, it is expected to significantly ease its hard-line approach in an attempt to win more time. The IRGC is also expected to rearrange its cards in the face of its traditional competitors (the religious authorities, the Iranian bureaucracy, and traditional Iranian capitalist elites). Those competitors are aware that the combined circumstances created by Iran’s numerous crises are creating the opportunity to diminish the power of the IRGC. While such a crackdown would not necessarily be the end to the Corps, this would ease its grip on the reins of power and undermine its strategic alliance with the Supreme Leader, especially as he is suffering from age-related diseases.
New alliances are expected to emerge between the entities competing for the powers of the IRGC. These are alliances that would continue to push for serious reform within the regime. At the same time that the IRGC will try to show maximum flexibility in response to the internal and external pressures that it faces, it will also attempt to immediately restore the momentum of its power lost over the past two years. The economic situation will probably be the most decisive factor in this matter because the growth of the IRGC and its permanence greatly rely on the success of its economic arm.
This economic empire has created its own leaders, rules, and economic structures – ones that are difficult to abandon even in the face of Iran’s economic problems. It seems likely, therefore, that Iran will have to find both internal compromises as well as compromises with the outside world that will allow for a period of reorganization and rebuilding similar to the period following the end of the war with Iraq.
The stifling, complex crises that the Iranian regime is now experiencing do not mean that its end is near or that the IRGC will collapse. The regime still boasts a strong foundation ensuring its sustainability. However, the regime does now seem to need to revise its priorities and focus on protecting the revolution rather than exporting it.
This does not mean the Iranian regime will drop its quest to export the revolution, which is an integral part of the regime’s ideology, but it does mean it most re-focus on rebuilding. Iran (as was done in the years from 1989-2018) is preparing the relevant and needed framework to resume Iran’s external efforts. The IRGC will continue to play a vital role in the Iranian regime’s future, yet it will likely step out of the spot-light and give more face time to the more attractive stances for westerners, such as offering moderate Iranian officials. This will give the IRGC the opportunity to absorb the popular anger, while recouping its huge economic losses from the U.S. sanctions.
The current crisis also does not mean that Iran will need another thirty years to regain its strength. It actually will require a much shorter period to accomplish this. During this re-building period, the IRGC will continue its near-monopoly over the Iranian economy and may even strengthen its economic situation against other competitors. On the other hand, the extremist wing of the revolutionary forces will continue to pressure and to foment internal and external crises (with the cooperation of its traditional proxies) to thwart this pragmatic approach. The end result may well be a tug of war between the hard-liners and the current and more powerful trend of flexibility and pragmatism.
It is hard to tell who will win out in the long run as this will depend on many different factors. Some of these factors include who will be the successor to Khamenei, the ability of the pragmatic leaders to organize themselves, a possible new incoming U.S. administration, and many different factors. One guaranteed fact is that the IRGC will be an irreplaceable pillar in Iran’s internal and external power.
The best case for both Iran and the world will be the one in which the IRGC loses its struggle for supremacy in Iran. If Iran is truly to move forward, it will have to find ways to re-brand itself to the world as a country that cares about its internal affairs and does not interfere with those of others. It will have to make diplomatic breakthroughs – especially pertaining to Iran’s relationships with the Arab Gulf countries. It will have to shift its attitudes towards is proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen – who would then be instructed to decrease their disruptive activities and to recalibrate them in a manner that does not challenge the institutional legitimacy of these countries. It also means that the Iranian regime will have to compromise on its revolutionary narrative. Whether such a best case scenario will emerge is anything but certain.
Further analysis on the current situation in Iraq and on Iran’s influence is available in another Burke Chair Report entitled, The New Strategic Dialogue: Shaping the Iraqi-U.S. Relationship, and is available for download here.
Dr. Munqith Dagher is the CEO and founder of the Independent Institute of Administration and Civil Society Studies (IIACSS) research group (Al-Mustakella) in Iraq and a Gallup International board member. He conducted Iraq’s first-ever public opinion poll in 2003. Munqith holds a Ph.D. in public administration from the University of Baghdad College of Administration and Economics and a master’s degree in war sciences. He was a professor of public administration and strategic management in Baghdad, Basra, and at the National Defense University.
1Bazaar is a marketplace or shopping quarter, especially one in the Middle East. Here, it refers to the power of the economic class of big merchants in Iran.
2 “Iraq-Iran War,” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopaedia, October 31, 2009, http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761580640_2/Iran-Iraq_War.html
3 The IRGC frequently makes reference to the greed of other states in relation to Iran. The meaning of this is that other countries, namely the United States, want to control Iran’s oil.
4 Frederic Wehrey et al., “The Rise of the Pasdaran: Assessing the Domestic Roles of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” RAND, January 8, 2009, https://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG821.html
5 “Iran under Ayatollah Khamenei,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/place/Iran/Iran-under-Ayatollah-Khamenei
6 “Iran under Ayatollah Khamenei,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/place/Iran/Iran-under-Ayatollah-Khamenei
7 “IRGC Commanders’ Letter to Khatami,” Iran Data Portal, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/irgc-commanders-letter-to-khatami
8 Julian Borger and Robert Tait, “The Financial Power of the Revolutionary Guards, The Guardian, February 15, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/15/financial-power-revolutionary-guard
9 “Islamic Republic of Iran: 2009 Article IV Consultation—Staff Report; Staff Supplement; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director for Iran,” IMF, March 2010, https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2010/cr1074.pdf
10 “Islamic Republic of Iran,” World Bank, https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/iran
11 Ahmad Majidyar, “IRGC’s role in Iran’s economy growing with its engineering arm set to execute 40 mega-projects,” Middle East Institute, May 7, 2018, https://www.mei.edu/publications/irgcs-role-irans-economy-growing-its-engineering-arm-set-execute-40-mega-projects
12 “Iran’s Oil Price Plummets,” The Iran Primer, United States Institute for Peace, April 22, 2020, https://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2020/apr/22/iran%E2%80%99s-oil-prices-plummet
13 Ian Talley and Benoit Faucon, “U.S. to Block Iran’s Request to IMF for $5 Billion Loan to Fight Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-to-block-irans-request-to-imf-for-5-billion-loan-to-fight-coronavirus-11586301732
14 Eric Edelman and Ray Takeyh, “The Next Iranian Revolution,” Foreign Policy, May/June 2020, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2020-04-13/next-iranian-revolution
15 Nader Hashemi, Webinar on “What Does Iran’s Coronavirus Pandemic Teach Us about the Legitimacy of the Islamic Republic?” Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, June 18, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmNEPvk0yDg
16 Dexter Filkins, “The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution,” The New Yorker, May 18, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/25/the-twilight-of-the-iranian-revolution
17 Dexter Filkins, “The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution,” The New Yorker, May 18, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/25/the-twilight-of-the-iranian-revolution
18 Nader Hashemi, Webinar on “What Does Iran’s Coronavirus Pandemic Teach Us about the Legitimacy of the Islamic Republic?” Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, June 18, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmNEPvk0yDg; Dexter Filkins, “The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution,” The New Yorker, May 18, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/25/the-twilight-of-the-iranian-revolution; “Regime Ideologue Says Iranians Evade Islam, Turn To Secularism,” Radio Farda, January 2, 2019, https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-islamic-ideologue-says-iranians-turning-to-secularism-mesbah/29688233.html
19 Dexter Filkins, “The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution,” The New Yorker, May 18, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/25/the-twilight-of-the-iranian-revolution
20 Ariane Tabatabai, “After Soleimani: What`s Next for IRGC,” CTC Sentinel 13, issue 1 (January 2020), https://ctc.usma.edu/after-soleimani-whats-next-irans-quds-force/
21 Ariane Tabatabai, “After Soleimani: What`s Next for IRGC,” CTC Sentinel 13, issue 1 (January 2020), https://ctc.usma.edu/after-soleimani-whats-next-irans-quds-force/
22 Nakissa Jahabani, “Beyond Soleimani: Implications for Iran’s Proxy Network in Iraq and Syria,” Combatting Terrorism Center, January 10, 2020, https://ctc.usma.edu/beyond-soleimani-implications-irans-proxy-network-iraq-syria/