August 19, 2019

Iran’s Supreme Leader Replaces Head of Revolutionary Guards

Iran’s Supreme Leader Replaces Head of Revolutionary Guards


Iran’s supreme leader has replaced the top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, state media reported Sunday, two weeks after the Trump administration designated the elite force of the Iranian military as a foreign terrorist organization.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, did not specify why he was removing the Revolutionary Guards commander, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who had held the post since 2007.

Mr. Khamenei replaced General Jafari with a deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Brig. Gen Hossein Salami, and elevated his rank to major general.

General Salami takes over a 125,000-member branch of the Iranian military that has grown into a vast military-industrial complex since it was created by founders of the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah 40 years ago.

The Revolutionary Guards Corps reports directly to Ayatollah Khamenei, exerts deep influence in politics and the economy, and has its own air force, navy and intelligence service.

It also is in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile development and operates a subsidiary known as the Al Quds force, which carries out clandestine operations and other activities in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

The announcement of the leadership change, carried by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, said Mr. Khamenei had thanked General Jafari “for his valuable efforts.”

General Salami has been outspoken recently in expressing Iran’s antipathy toward Israel, which regards Iran as its most dangerous foe in the Middle East.

In January, after Israel had publicized a map showing Iranian bases in Syria, General Salami warned that “if Israel takes any step to start a new war, without a doubt, this war would be the same war which would end in its elimination.”

On April 8, President Trump announced he had classified the Revolutionary Guards as foreign terrorist organization, which imposes wide-ranging economic and travel sanctions on its members and affiliated individuals and groups.

It was the first time the United States had named part of another nation’s government as that type of threat, and represented a significant escalation of American sanctions on Iran under the Trump administration.

Iran retaliated by designating the United States Central Command as a terrorist organization.

The timing of Mr. Trump’s announcement, one day before the Israeli election, appeared partly aimed at lifting the campaign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who thanked Mr. Trump in a Twitter post for “keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism.”





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