Islamic Nationalism: Tracing Paradoxes in the Evolution of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Islamic World and Near East History
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AbstractThis paper presents a narrative history of Iranian revolutionary ideology and its evolving impact on foreign policy. It looks at this history primary through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an institution established after the revolution and designed to defend the Islamic political order in Iran as well as oppressed Muslims abroad. The Revolutionary Guard, or Guard for short, became a focal point in the efforts of Iranian revolutionaries to export their ideology and has evolved overtime into a politicized and unconventional military force, often associated in the media with supporting foreign terrorists and militants. This paper argues that the Guard has implemented revolutionary ideology in an arc from radical to pragmatic. Unlike past literature on the Guard, this paper situates the organization’s institutional history in Iran’s broader political context and concentrates on its relationships to and differences with other factions. A persistent aim is also to analyze terminology such as radical and pragmatic and provide theoretical foundations for the use of such terms.