The Revolutionary Guards: Gaining Power in Iran
Time / By TIME Staff

The shadowy Revolutionary Guards already oversee a 130,000-strong parallel army and run large swatches of Iran's economy, from dentist clinics to the country's controversial nuclear program. But signs have emerged in recent weeks that the élite military arm isn't satisfied: it may just want to run the entire Islamic republic.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), or Sepah for short in Farsi, is widely believed to have played a large role in orchestrating the crackdown on political dissidents and protesters following the disputed presidential election. Its political influence within the regime has always far exceeded the actual army's, and it has increased exponentially since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to office in 2005. But the speculation among Iranian opposition sources is that, these days, the IRGC's powerful patron — whose second term officially began last week — has now become its puppet, falling under the influence of a gang of security chiefs (the so-called New Right) that harbor schemes to further radicalize the regime or topple it in a military takeover.

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