Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MORTEZA NIKOUBAZL)
A day after a high level Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps internal security commander was removed, Iran also replaced Mohammed Ali Jafari with Hossein Salami. It appears to be a major shakeup at the top of the IRGC and likely indicates that rumors of internal scandals are accurate.
The announcement came a day after Fathollah Jamiri was brought in from Yazd province to replace the head of protection services and security. Fathollah is supposed to secure leaders of the regime, airlines and infrastructure. The next day Jafari, who had appointed Fathollah, was out.
An announcement from Tehran notes that Ayatollah Khamenei had accepted the change in power. Jafari was given a nice goodbye letter in the form of praise for his years of service and his management of the force. He will continue to hold the rank of Major General. Salami was ordered to “fully upgrade the IRGC’s capabilities.” Salami is a frequent critic of Israel and has boasted about Iran’s increasing missile capabilities. “If Israel makes a mistake that sparks a new war they can rest assured this will bring their annihilation,” he said in February.
Salami threatened to make “the Zionist regime practice swimming in the Mediterranean” last October, claiming Iran could force Israel into the sea. In July, last year, he said Iran’s forces in Syria were ready to fight Israel. He has also frequently boasted of Iran’s missile capabilities, claiming that missiles from Lebanon and Gaza could strike Israel and that Iran might make a “strategic” decision to increase their range even to the extent of threatening Europe.
Salami’s rhetoric is not a great departure from the usual boasting of the Iranian regime and its far-right elements, but his elevation appears to indicate a desire to bring renewed vigor to the IRGC at the very top levels. Jafari held his position since 2007, so a new commander will bring a new face. It appears that other positions may be in flux within the IRGC. The IRGC is also in the spotlight after the US designated it a terrorist organization. These considerations mean that as tensions heat up with the US and Israel, the IRGC will be at the forefront of Iran’s policies in the region. It has been increasing the quality and precision of its missiles in recent years.
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