The Basij: Fissures between Iran's Citizen Soldiers and Citizens
Technical Report,01 Oct 2019,31 Dec 2019
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
Pagination or Media Count:
Understanding the internal security apparatus of an autocratic regime provides insights into the regimes stability and staying power. For in domestic unrest, the loyalty and effectiveness of the internal security apparatus means the difference between regime collapse and regime survival. Iran is no different. For Iran, the internal security apparatus is the Organization for the Mobilization of the Oppressed. In Farsi, the name is Sazeman-e Basij-e Mostazafan, or Basij mobilization for short. But as a regime security apparatus, the Basij began in a unique manner as a populist militia. The Basij evolved into its internal security role from popularly supported roles as citizen soldiers in the 1979 Revolution and Iran-Iraq War. However, the Basij beginning clashes with the modern Basij role as an oppressive internal security organization. And the intervening evolution of the Basij created fissures between Basij and population that translate into regime vulnerabilities understanding these fissures provides insights into the staying-power of the Iranian regime. This paper briefly traces the history of the Basij in terms of its relationship to the Iranian population. The history of the Basij is divided into three eras the Iran-Iraq War, the post-war reconstruction period until 2005, and 2005 forward when the Basij made dramatic gains in power. The paper then turns to three specific fissures between the Basij and Iranian population and explores their implications.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics