RFE/RL | July 26, 2010
by Golnaz Esfandiari

July 26, 2010
The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has officially acknowledged that some members have been supportive of the country’s opposition movement. General Mohammad Ali Jafari said that it is better “to convince” guards who support the opposition than to get rid of them.

“Many of the ambiguities have been resolved and they have been convinced that the move was wrong,” Jafari was quoted by Fars as saying, according to Radio Farda. “This is better than to physically deal with them and eliminate them.”

Jafari’s comments mark the first time an Iranian official has acknowledged publicly that some members of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, which was undoubtedly involved in the postelection crackdown, are supporters of the Green Movement.

Many questions remain, however. How widespread is support for the Green Movement within the IRGC? Have they really been convinced, as Jafari claims? Were they threatened, or truly convinced? How high-ranking are those who supported or still support the Green Movement? And can they make a difference?

During last year’s presidential campaign, several former IRGC members expressed support for defeated presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Musavi, including Mohsen Rashid and Azlati Moghdam. Radio Farda reports that Azlati was among those jailed in the postelection crackdown.

“The Guardian” posted a documentary in June that featured interviews with three former senior members of the IRGC who had defected to the West and who spoke about what they described as “a betrayal” of the Iranian government.

— Golnaz Esfandiari