Laura Secor examines whether the revolution can prise some of the armed forces away from the regime:

The purpose of the Revolutionary Guard and Basij is the defense of the Islamic Revolution and of the person of the Supreme Leader. Rarely have the true believers in the militias been forced to consider the possibility that these two functions might come into conflict. Such a moment may have arrived. It is one thing to unleash brutal force on crowds that insult the Leader or Islam. That was how the members of the Revolutionary Guards and Basij could defend their assault on demonstrators at Tehran University in 1999. But now, in the name of Ahmadinejad’s controversial presidency, they are being asked to violently disperse fellow Iranians who are chanting religious slogans, carrying Korans, and calling for the lawful counting of their votes. Whether or not the rumors of splits at the top of the Revolutionary Guards’ hierarchy are true, the rank and file is not necessarily monolithic.


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