Yesterday, a meticulously planned attack on Israel carried out by Hamas unfolded, unveiling the extensive militant networks operating in the Middle East.
This incident brings to light the significant role played by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a multi-service primary branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, not only in the geopolitical sphere but also in the global organized crime scene.
The IRGC’s involvement in various illicit activities worldwide showcases its multifaceted operations that extend beyond conventional military roles.
Hamas and their connection to the IRGC
Hamas is a Palestinian militant group with a political arm, founded in 1987, with the aim to liberate Palestine. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), established post the 1979 Iranian Revolution, serves as Iran’s primary military force alongside the conventional army, heavily influencing Iran’s domestic and foreign policies.
Hezbollah, a Shiite political and military organization based in Lebanon, was formed in the 1980s with the aid of the IRGC to resist Israeli occupation.
The recent attack on Israel by Hamas showcased the collaborative efforts of Iran and Hezbollah in planning and executing multi-front militant operations. A Wall Street Journal report highlighted that Iran, through the IRGC, and Hezbollah aided Hamas in strategizing this attack, with meetings held in Beirut since August, reflecting the extensive militant network and the geopolitical intricacies of the Middle East.
The Founding and Purpose of the IRGC
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a multifaceted entity within Iran, with influences stretching across various sectors of Iranian society, and beyond its borders, particularly impacting countries like Lebanon and Syria. Established after the 1979 Iranian Revolution to protect the Islamic regime, the IRGC has evolved into a dominant military and economic force in Iran. It’s not just a conventional military force; its influence permeates through all layers of Iranian society.
Domestic Repression and Terrorism
The IRGC has been heavily implicated in both domestic repression and international terrorism. The organization is known for its significant control over the Iranian economy, including the management of state-owned industries and other lucrative enterprises, which, through international engagements, have greatly enriched both the IRGC and Iran’s clerical leadership.
Internally, the IRGC plays a crucial role in quelling dissent and maintaining the regime’s grip on power. It’s a key player in Iran’s intelligence and security apparatus, with its operations extending to the detention and interrogation of political dissidents, suppression of protests, and enforcement of ideological conformity within the country. It’s known for operating notorious detention facilities like the Evin Prison, where detainees are often subjected to harsh treatment.
The Qud’s Force
Externally, the IRGC’s Quds Force is tasked with carrying out extraterritorial operations. It’s not only implicated in planning terrorist attacks but also in associating with major transnational criminal organizations. Its activities are reported to span a range of criminal enterprises, including global organized crime, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.
The IRGC is also a key player in supporting and nurturing terrorist organizations. It’s known for its longstanding support for Hezbollah, a Shiite political and military organization based in Lebanon.
The IRGC was instrumental in the founding of Hezbollah and continues to provide significant financial, military, and logistical support to the group. This support extends to operational theaters like Syria, where Hezbollah has been active in supporting the Assad regime.
The Relationship Between the IRGC and Hezbollah
The relationship between Hezbollah and the IRGC is symbiotic, with both entities benefiting from a close operational and ideological alliance.
Syria and the Greater Middle East
In the broader geopolitical context, the IRGC’s actions in Syria and Lebanon are part of Iran’s strategy to extend its influence across the Middle East.
In Syria, the IRGC has deployed personnel to support Hezbollah and Syrian government forces.
Its involvement has not only bolstered the capabilities of Hezbollah but has also facilitated the movement of resources and personnel between Lebanon and Syria, thus contributing to the ongoing conflict and instability in these countries. Furthermore, the IRGC’s support for armed groups and militias in these countries significantly contributes to the region’s geopolitical tensions and conflict dynamics.
Things to Note:
The IRGC’s pervasive influence within Iran, coupled with its external military and criminal engagements, underscores its centrality to Iran’s domestic and foreign policies.
The activities of the IRGC significantly contribute to the internal repression within Iran and the broader instability in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon and Syria.
- Center for Security Policy. “Situation Report: IRGC’s ties to the international crime world.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- Counter Extremism Project. “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- CSIS. “The Escalating Conflict with Hezbollah in Syria.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- Economic Times. “U.S strikes groups linked to IRGC in Syria; here’s all you need to know.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- FDD. “Hezbollah.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- NCRI. “The Criminal Empire of the Iran Regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- terrorism-info.org.il. “The Intelligence Organization of the IRGC: A Major Iranian Intelligence Agency.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- The Iran Primer. “U.S. Sanctions Iran’s IRGC for Hostage-Taking.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- The Times of Israel. “WSJ: Iran, Hezbollah helped Hamas plan multi-front attack on Israel.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- The Washington Institute. “Iran’s Military Intervention in Syria: Long-Term Implications.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.
- Wikipedia. “Iranian intervention in the Syrian civil war.” Accessed October 8, 2023. link.