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Are Iran's Revolutionary Guards Preparing for a Coup?

An informed source within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps reports that the ever-increasing tensions and visible animosities between the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei  and President Ahmadinejad has prompted the Ayatollah to issue an operational plan to deal with the clashes that can be expected in the coming weeks between the two differing factions.  

According to this operational plan, which would normally have to be approved by the Supreme National Security Council and, in turn, be confirmed by the Supreme Leader, it is being issued, instead, as a directive from the Supreme Leaders himself. It instructs the Revolutionary Guards’ ground forces to coordinate efforts with the Basij militia to take control of the entire country, all governmental offices, ministries and presidential administration — and most importantly — purge people within all the ranks. 

The source, within the headquarters of Guards command known as “Building Plan 55,” revealed to Iran Briefing (an opposition site), that: “The inception phases of the plan, which begins from within the mosques and Basij militia groups, will be structured and groups will be organized in such a fashion as to prepare for possible clashes that would lead to a preemptory crisis. Networks are also being put in place as supervising bodies in order to carry out the rapid response ‘deathblow’ as it were.”

It is worth mentioning that the orders for such an operation have been given to the Basij forces so that, at minimum, those who are loyal to the Supreme Leader will be separated from the supporters of Ahmadinejad.

To that end, since last week, all sectors of the Basij militia have been situated in areas throughout the country so that the procedures specified in the approved operational plans are carried out in tandem by each individual Basij outlet. The plan, which has been signed off and initialed by the Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, is as follows: “All departments of the ground and resistance forces of the Basij network must be positioned in a such a manner that all the most ardent believers are coalesced and can be quickly called upon for immediate action and total take over.”

The Revolutionary Guards, however, fear that clashes between the disciples of Khamenei and the supporters of Ahmadinejad would pour out to the streets of Tehran, sparking a renewal of the Green Movement and populist anti-regime protests.

All this has led to concerns among the IRGC commanders, whereas over 70 percent of Guard forces are known to have not participated in attacking the Iranian people, and who have refused to suppress the anti-regime protests in the past. Now, however, there is also a known and irreparable rift between the hardliners, some of whom have clearly split loyalties — some loyal to Khamenei, while others are supporters of Ahmadinejad.

Also, the involvement of the Basij forces and plainclothes agents, who played a decisive role in the suppression of the bloody protests following the fraudulent 2009 presidential elections, led to the national security forces having to admit to the Supreme National Security Council that they were defeated in their effort and could not contain the protests. This led up to the IRGC taking total control of Tehran and other big cities throughout Iran.

In other parts of this recently approved operational plan, it is stated that the IRGC is to do its utmost to take total control of the country and all governmental branches within a week. This is a precursor that is intended to lead up to plans that will be “announced at a later time.”

Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Chief Commander of the Guards, is also worried about dissension within the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards. This dissent has grown and spread throughout the forces ever since the fraudulent elections of 2009 because of the brutal response to the peaceful demonstrators where hundreds were killed and injured.

As I revealed on April 19, a group of 37 Guard commanders were arrested and charged with planning a coup against the Islamic regime. They were accused of planning to take over 130 key institutions in Tehran. There are also reports from the city of Mashhad that many other Guard members were arrested on the same charges.

With the combined rift growing within the leadership and the dissent among the Guards, the very forces that have served as the backbone of the Islamic regime, it seems that it is now the most opportune time for leaders in the West to step up and support the Iranian people with their desire for a complete overthrow of their regime.

If the U.S is so willing to support the Egyptians and Libyans in their pursuit of freedom and their pursuit of democracy, why not at last recognize that the Iranians deserve freedom and their own government too? Will they realize the urgency and respond to the call?

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. He is the author of A Time to Betray a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, published by Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster, April 2010.