Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the elite military corps feared for its crackdowns on internal dissent and pervasive presence in Iranian society, says it hasn’t been a good communicator.
Its spokesman, in rare comments about the Guards’ work published today in the Shargh newspaper, wants it to do a better job trumpeting its achievements.
“I see the most important weakness of the Guards as being in the information arena,” Ramezan Sharif told the Tehran-based newspaper. “Despite much effort, we haven’t been able to present correctly the work and actions of this popular and revolutionary entity.”
Sharif said the Guards, apart from keeping foreign aggressors at bay, has been a key driver of the country’s economy, pressing ahead on infrastructure and energy projects even after international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program restricted foreign investment and operations.
“Despite certain political propaganda, it isn’t the Guards that is seeking to take on projects, it’s been governments that have tried to make better use of its potential,” Sharif said.
The unusual glimpse into the Guards came less than two weeks before Hassan Rohani is scheduled to replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who promoted the Guards’ influence during his eight-year tenure.
Iran’s clerical rulers created the Guards after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the monarchy to safeguard the Islamic Republic’s core principles. Over time, it became an increasingly powerful force in Iran’s economy and political life, with many top officials in Ahmadinejad’s government having been members.
The Guards and its militia, the Basij, played a key role in suppressing mass protests that broke out over after the disputed 2009 presidential election. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Guards said protesters played into the hands of Western powers plotting to topple the Islamic Republic regime.