ANALYSIS: The end-times apocalyptic vision of Iran’s IRGC

Tony Duheaume
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If the Islamic Republic of Iran has learnt anything from the Iran-Iraq War, it was the need to become totally self-sufficient in all forms of military development. During that war, with a radicalized Iran, it found itself standing alone against Saddam Hussein’s well-equipped military forces.

In a region where most of Iran’s nearest neighbors were Sunni Arabs and Turks, all of whom were disturbed by the radical doctrine spewing from Khomeini in those heady days following the Iranian revolution, the fear was that such rhetoric could stir up Shiite militancy in neighboring Arab states, eventually turning into civil unrest, and the overthrow of existing governments.


Since its inception, the Islamic Republic of Iran has adopted its founder Ruhollah Khomeini’s doctrine of self-reliance, and with Saddam Hussein having launched a full-scale invasion of Iran on 22 September 1980, just a matter of months after the dust had settled on Khomeini’s blood-stained 1979 revolution, it was at a time when the Iranian military had suffered a series of extensive purges.

Under these purges, officers thought to be still loyal to the previous Iranian leader Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had been rooted out, and with many of its top military figures having been executed, the armed forces were in a very weakened state.

During the conflict, with a US arms embargo on Iran biting hard, Iranian cities were bombarded by Iraqi missiles, and with nowhere to legally acquire arms on the international market, Iran turned to the rogue regime of Kim Il-sung. Through North Korea it procured enough missiles to aid it in its fight against Saddam, a war which ended in stalemate, leaving behind a death toll of an estimated one million for Iran, and between 250,000 to 500,000 for Iraq.

Doctrine of self-reliance

This war left an indelible mark on the Iranian psyche as far as their doctrine of self-reliance was concerned, from that time on they pursued a program of self-sufficiency with fervent devotion, and with no superpower benefactor to back it up in its time of need, the regime headed down road towards superpower status itself.

Not only was Iran determined to develop its own arms industries, to end its reliance on foreign suppliers, it also set up a partnership with North Korea, to fund the production of North Korea’s 300-kilometre-range Scud-B missiles, as well as to collaborate in the development of new weapons systems.

Becoming paranoid about security, the Iranian regime set its sights on producing advanced arms, as well as all aspects of military equipment, and eventually stepped up its nuclear program. Determined to obtain nuclear weapons, as well as the technology to fit them to long-range missiles, the mullahs became obsessed with creating the ability to reach all its enemies, including the United States.

With Iran’s arms industries falling under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including that of its nuclear program, and with the IRGC’s power greatly increased under Khamenei, they also adhere like him to an end-times apocalyptic doctrine, passed down from Ruhollah Khomeini.

With the whole of the military industrial complex in the hands of the IRGC, as well as its nuclear program, what makes the whole concept of a clash with the regime even more scarier, is the fact that through the Iran deal, it has been allowed to keep its nuclear program on hold. It is ready to start up again at any time and as a result, plus the fact the IRGC have many secret underground nuclear facilities up and running, a nuclear weapon could be much closer to completion than many realize.

Members of the IRGC cheer during the speech of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the occasion of IRGC Week in Tehran 13 November 1999. (AFP)
Members of the IRGC cheer during the speech of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the occasion of IRGC Week in Tehran 13 November 1999. (AFP)

Submitted intelligence

Already, the regime has made numerous threats should its nuclear facilities come under attack from either Israel or the West. It was through an article as far back as 2006, where intelligence submitted to the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat by Nouri Zadeh – compiled from information leaked from an Iranian military source – pointed to how Iran had put together a secret plan to retaliate after such an attack, which was code-named Qiyamah or “Judgement Day”.

In their retaliation, the IRGC would immediately respond through missile attacks on the US coalition’s Arab and Muslim allies in the Gulf region, hitting military bases occupied by the US Coalition, as well as a series of suicide operations targeting US and British interests in the area.

If such a scenario was acted out, it would play into the hands of all of those in the Iranian regime that advocated the doctrine of global chaos surrounding the return of the Mahdi. Mahdism Doctrine is the cornerstone of both the IRGC’s and the Iranian regime’s revolutionary doctrine, which was highlighted in its entirety during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tenure as president of Iran, when he made constant references to it in public statements.

It could be argued that with such wealth accumulated by IRGC commanders through inducements given to them by Khamenei to obtain their loyalty, they wouldn’t want to risk their lives in such an apocalyptic battle. But on the other hand, should the Iranian regime end up with its back to the wall, with all seeming to be lost, with their Islamic republic crumbling around them, death might seem to be the right choice for these prophets of martyrdom.

Fanatical zeal

It also needs to be remembered that throughout their learning curve, in both their general childhood schooling, through to their military or political careers, the leaders of both the IRGC, and the Iranian regime, have had it pumped into their minds with fanatical zeal, the glories of self-sacrifice for the state, and for the survival of the ongoing revolution.

Through such doctrine, the Iranian Qods Force, which is the overseas arm of the IRGC, charged with subversion abroad, as well as executing foreign military campaigns, had turned the fledgling movement of Hezbollah into an effective fighting force, using their proxy to carry out suicide attacks on their behalf, thus allowing their political masters in Tehran to claim plausible deniability.

Through intense indoctrination, the foot-soldiers of Hezbollah, as well as those in the ranks of Iran’s “Martyrdom-seeking Division” of the Iranian army – which is said to have three battalions numbering in the region of 50,000 volunteers – have also been brainwashed to such an extent in the ideology of self-sacrifice.

They believe that should they die as a result of carrying out suicide operations, aimed at protecting revolutionary values laid down by the founder of the Iranian Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, they will enter paradise.

In the event of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, these loyal vassals of the IRGC, either under the control of its proxy Hezbollah commanders, or in the case of Iran’s Martyrdom-seeking Division, under the direct control of an IRGC commander, would carry out a series of devastating suicide operations on numerous Western targets, in an effort to cause the global chaos they believe will lead to the apocalyptic end-time’s battle, which will hasten the return of their Mahdi.

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