Concerned about the spillover of the Arab Spring into Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the guardian of the clerical regime, is making a concerted effort to prepare its forces for possible unrest in the country, particularly in Tehran.
In so doing, the Mohammad Rasulollah Division, a crack unit of the IRGC responsible for the security of greater Tehran, has staged major exercises for Basij militias in the capital.
Over 31,000 members of the Basij militia's Imam Ali Battalions are taking part in the exercises. The members of these battalions are specially trained to violently control, disperse, and arrest civilian protesters.
Motorcyclists armed with clubs and other means of inflicting injuries to protesters, as shown during the unrest after the 2009 disputed presidential election, are part and parcel of these battalions.
Addressing the participating battalions in the exercises on October 7, IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, "The IRGC and Basij forces are ready to counter any threat against the country by learning from past experiences."
Reflecting on recent political developments in Arab countries, the general said that popular uprisings in the Arab world heralded the beginning of a new era in the region.
Praising the "selflessness and effective actions" of the Basij militia after the 2009 unrest, Jafari told the battalions that the general public was aware of the "seditionary acts" in 2009 -- a reference to the unrest that erupted after President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection.
Saying that the nature of threats facing the Islamic republic was changing, he urged the Basij forces to defend the revolution, maintain domestic security, and draw the attention of as many people as possible to the revolution.
-- Hossein Aryan