The statement issued yesterday by the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic [of Iran], Ali Khamenei, about ceasing the global activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and confining its remit to the states neighboring Iran, requires our immediate attention. It must not pass by unnoticed because logically speaking, having analyzed the statement, the Supreme Guide is saying the following:
1- The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force is currently carrying out external operations, as admitted by Ali Khamenei himself.
2- These operations are international in scale.
3- Khamenei has ordered the Quds Force’s to focus its activities on Iran’s neighboring states in the future, although he has failed explicitly name which ones.
Iran’s immediate vicinity includes Iraq, the Gulf States and Afghanistan. As for the states that lie within the scope of Iranian national security, these also extend to Turkey, Israel, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon. It sounds as if the Supreme Guide is telling the Quds Force: Do not waste your time with Somalia, or with fighting Israel in Argentina, or with the Houthis in Yemen. Instead, focus your efforts on this smaller circle that is more important to Iran’s national security.
If this is true, we can understand this move considering Iran’s present-day priorities with its nuclear project and its consequences. The speculated Israeli military strike, the al-Assad regime’s complicated situation in Syria, the political pressure on Hezbollah in Lebanon and the crisis al-Maliki is facing in Iraq all are multiple stems of the same branch: “Iranian national security”.
The Revolutionary Guards, the Supreme Guide’s military arm, are these days considered a force parallel to Iran’s regular army. Officially, their supreme commander is himself the leader of the Islamic Revolution. The Revolutionary Guards were established during the Ayatollah Khomeini era, with a subdivision for general mobilization commonly known as the “Basij”. Now, they incorporate 95,000 regular soldiers and officers, alongside 300,000 reserve troops. The force is in possession of potentially devastating offensive weaponry including long and medium range missiles, modern tanks and fighter jets. A considerable part of these weapons are Iranian-made with Russian, north Korean and Chinese technical support.
It seems we are now facing an official and overt move from the highest Iranian authority to transform the Revolutionary Guards from a globally operating force to a regional one; to gather intelligence and fight battles within Iran’s immediate vicinity. As such we cannot act as if Khamenei’s statement does not concern us, or as if it is a “purely domestic order” issued by the ruler of another country to his own troops, about a purely internal affair.
In summary, this statement represents an overt threat to Arab national security in general and Gulf national security in particular, especially at the time of al-Assad’s massacres!