The new rulers of Iran: The Revolutionary Guard

It is the Pasdaran that controls Ahmadinejad, not the mullahs. Indeed, it was precisely fear of the Pasdaran’s rising political and economic influence that led to the “anybody but Ahmadinejad” coalition we saw in this election, wherein young, leftist students and popular reformists like Mohammad Khatami joined together with conservative mullahs and “centrists” like Rafsanjani to push back against what they consider to be the rampant militarization of Iranian politics. There is a genuine fear among these groups that Iran is beginning to resemble Egypt or Pakistan, countries in which the military controls the apparatus of government.

It is difficult to know how this coalition will react to Ahmadinejad’s “victory.” Thus far, their appeals to Ayatollah Khamenei to treat this stolen election as “an act of treason against the state,” which is how both Mousavi and Rafsanjani have described it, have fallen on deaf ears. What is abundantly clear, however, is that the days in which power in Iran rested in the hands of a single individual (the supreme leader) or a single group (the mullahs) are over. For better or worse, the new power base in Iran is the Pasdaran.