As I have been reading more into the power structure of Iran the Revolutionary Guard has a very interesting story. At first they were charged with being a personal security force of the Supreme Leader they have morphed into an economical/political power player with operations in 20 countries, in an attempt to export the Iranian style revolution.
Ahmadinejad, the incumbant president, a former commander in the revolutionary guard has been slowly helping revolutionary guard commanders take over high levers of power in the government. Under Ahmadinejads, Revolutionary Guard commanders have been appointed to 14 of the 21 cabinet positions, and have taken over as mayors of 30 cities, as well as wining 80 of the 290 seats on the Iranian Congress(Majlis).
This growing power in the politcal halls has meant increasing advantages when the Revolutionary Guard's many front companies bid for government contracts. With their advantage the Guard has built one of the wealthiest empires in Iran with ties to more than 100 companies and control of more than 12 billion dollars in contracts.
The Guard has its hands in such industry as dentistry, travel, oil, and construction. But the pride of the Guard is their controversial uranium enrichment facility at Natanz which is not subject to the parliamentary budget process.(Kim Murphy la times)
As far as the protests go Rez Aslan of the daily beast.com has much hope for the protesters. Paraphrasing a Aslan interview on msnbc he said the last heavy protests of 99' by the students were brutally repressed by the state because the protesters were one group of society. Today they cannot happen because everyone is protesters.
He continues, “What's really fascinating about what's happening right now in 2009 is that it looks a lot like what was happening in 1979. And there's a very simple reason for that. The same people are in charge -- I mean, Mousavi, Rafsanjani, Khatami, Medhi Karroubi, the other reformist candidate -- these were all the original revolutionaries who brought down the Shah to begin with, so they know how to do this right."
Its very powerful to hear that the same strategy that caused the revolution in 1979 is being used today by the same men who organized the revolution in 1979, to put pressure on the current power structure. Under these conditions it seems the Supreme leader and his power base are in trouble and might have to flee the country, which leades to another irony. In 1979 right before the Shah was overthrown he also left the country, today the current president Ahmadinejad is in Russia. It seems to easy to say that he will never come back to Iran.
some of the most blatent abuse on video to date.