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Aug 17, 2009 | 22:11 GMT

3 mins read

Iran: The Supreme Leader's New Security Force

A new security force staunchly loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been created in Iran, STRATFOR sources privy to the information reported Aug. 17. The new militia is known as the Haydaryan — from the word "haydar," which means "lion" in Arabic and is the nickname of the Prophet Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, who is seen by the Shia as Mohammed's legitimate successor. The Haydaryan, which was first seen in action during the post-election unrest in the streets of Tehran, is a militia modeled after the Basij paramilitary group, even drawing some of the more zealous members from the Basij. But Haydaryan, unlike the Basij, is specifically centered on the supreme leader. The creation of a new security organization designed to be pro-Khamenei in the current political climate is significant. It shows that the supreme leader, despite being the commander in chief of the Islamic republic's armed forces and having the authority to appoint the heads of all organs within the state's police, paramilitary, intelligence, and military organizations, is feeling vulnerable. The clerical regime is rife with complex internal fissures that came to light after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial June 12 re-election, and Khamenei realizes that his position has been weakened. He sided with the president, whom he is struggling to control, and will need to increasingly rely on the use of force to maintain his position at the apex of the complex Iranian political system. The most likely beneficiary of this struggle would be the armed forces, especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which — though loyal to Khamenei and the clerical system — is watching the power struggle among the civilians play out. Iran's military sees both a threat and opportunity in the domestic schism. Khamenei is all too aware of this and thus knows he must maintain control over the security establishment. But the creation of the new security force will be unsettling for the IRGC-dominated security system, which could feel threatened by the new group, especially if it is not under the IRGC's direct control. Already the Iranians have had to ensure a balance of power between the IRGC and the Artesh, or regular military, through the creation of a joint armed forces command structure. There are not yet many details available regarding the new security body in terms of its position in the Iranian security hierarchy or how it can help strengthen Khamenei's position. However, the mere act of creating a new security force is in itself very telling of Khamenei's own vulnerabilities.

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