Kayhan London: The first-ever national conference on “Assessing New Military Defense Threats” was held on November 12 at the AJA University of Command and Staff in Tehran. AJA is the acronym for the staff college of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, also known as DAFOOS.
During his opening speech, Second Brigadier-General Hassan Valivand, the commander of the AJA military academy, said: “The main objective of this conference is to study different aspects of the complex and multidimensional threats that we are facing in today’s world. We are in the middle of a cyber, electronic, information technology (IT), economic, political, cultural, social and environmental war.”
Commander Valivand added: “The Islamic Republic military is strong enough to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country and fend off any threat. The massive public marches in support of the Islamic Revolution send a clear message to the [American] hegemony that it cannot create a rift between the people and the country’s officials.”
“America’s hegemony in western Asia is coming to an end,” Major-General Abdolrahim Mousavi, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Republic Army, said on November 12. “The Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC] are two edges of the same sword that ensure the safety and the security of the country.”
Commander Mousavi made these remarks at an event marking the seventh death anniversary of Brigadier-General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, an officer in the IRGC Aerospace (IRGC’s air force) who had founded Iran’s ballistic missile program.
“Let all those who have imposed sanctions on us know that we’ll turn these adversities into opportunities. We’d also like to let all of those people outside Iran who may think that sanctions will destabilize our borders know that they are gravely mistaken,” the Coordinating Deputy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Army Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, said during a speech on November 17.
Iran’s Defence Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami also believes that U.S. sanctions have failed to hurt the country. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Army’s Dental School on November 20, he said: “The country is in better shape today than it was before the sanctions went into effect. We’ll easily overcome these obstacles, and will proudly celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution next year. We’ve achieved great things and will enter the next decade with optimism and confidence.”
The Ideological−Political Organization of the Iranian Armed Forces, which is supervised by Muslim clergy, held its national conference on November 19. Addressing a group of clerics to mark the occasion, the head of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Military Office, Brigadier-General Mohammad Shirazi, said: “America is declining. The leader expects the Ideological−Political Organization of the Iranian Armed Forces to work ten times harder than before. We must fulfill our duties in line with the current realities. The enemy targets the minds of our young people. We must take this threat seriously and counter it decisively.”
Major-General Abdolrahim Mousavi, the commander-in-chief of the army, also delivered a speech at the same gathering in which he said: “In the past 40 years, the enemy has invested a lot in trying to weaken the army. It has now waged cyber warfare and is spreading misinformation about the Iranian military. Our job is to educate and inform our personnel and separate the truth from the lies.”
“Religious leaders have the daunting task of protecting our youth against the onslaught of the enemies’ psychological warfare. They must promote religious studies,” Commander Mousavi added. “The enemy uses various tactics to weaken the Iranian military including hatching plots to infiltrate the army, creating doubt among the personnel, fueling unrest, planting seeds of distrust and discord among military families, and using the current economic conditions to discredit and malign senior government and military officials.”
Mousavi noted: “Muslim clergy must symbolize enlightenment, advocate Islamic family values, highlight army’s achievements, promote optimism and strengthen ties between the officials and the public. Most of our problems stem from the fact that at times we lose sight of the real enemy.”
Iran’s senior government and military officials appear to feeling pressure and the need to study the impacts of the so-called “soft war” and a possible challenge to their authorities inside and outside the country. They are concerned about the wide-ranging effects of the U.S. sanctions, which will ruin the country’s economy and in all likelihood trigger further public unrest. Also, the fact that Mr. Khamenei has called on the Ideological−Political Organization of Iranian Armed Forces to be more vigilant shows that he is concerned about possible discontent among the rank and files of the regular army.
Many opposition leaders have recently reiterated their commitment to welcome those segments of the military who have not oppressed and brutalized Iranian citizens. In an interview with Kayhan Life on July 8, the former Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi said: “Our nation faces a single enemy from within, namely the Islamic Republic, which has taken our country hostage for the past 40 years. However, some people inside the regime sympathize with the public including members of the military, the IRGC, and even Basij. They don’t wish to go down with a sinking ship. However, they want some guarantees that they’ll be safe after the regime has collapsed. Only the Iranian society can give them that assurance.”
Hamed Sheybani-Rod, a member of the pro-democracy opposition group, the Iran Revival, also known as Farshgard, recently spoke to Kayhan Life about his meeting with Reza Pahlavi on October 27 in Washington D.C. during which they discussed the difficulties the families of army officers and personnel are currently facing in Iran. Farshgard is a political action network founded in September 2018 by 40 Iranian activists, most of whom were born in or around 1979. It advocates a secular democracy, either through a Republic or a Constitutional monarchy.
It is abundantly clear that despite the regime’s best efforts to restrict military personnel’s access to the outside world, the opposition groups’ messages continue to reach the army’s rank and file inside Iran.
Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi