Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Hicham Bou Nassif


Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini rose to power. Although Khomeini was a popular figure among many Iranians, Khomeini secured power through the actions of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the early days of the post-revolutionary period and after. The IRGC is an ideological armed force that arose from simple beginnings. In the days after the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime, the Guards were fervent supporters of Khomeini, who operated in an unorganized manner as defenders of his revolutionary ideology. After their formal establishment in 1979, the Guards received the authority to act as a domestic security force that defended Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution from oppositional groups. During the Iran-Iraq War, the Guards received more experience and legitimacy as a force. Despite the IRGC’s insecurity about institutional survival in the postwar period, it remained a significant force, primarily in the security and economic realms. Following 9/11, the Guards shifted into a global role as a variety of destabilizing events occurred throughout the region, like the Iraq War, Arab Spring, and U.S. withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. Simultaneously, the Basij branch of the IRGC has become increasingly involved in crushing protests and unrest since 2009. Although the IRGC serves as an armed force that protects the Islamic Republic of Iran (ISI) from internal and external threats, it is not merely an armed force. This thesis seeks to understand how the Revolutionary Guards maintain the Iranian Regime despite the internal and external threats that it faces. Aside from serving security and military needs, Khomeini mandated that the IRGC serve a political and socio-cultural role since its inception as guardians of his ideology. Nevertheless, their political and socio-cultural authorities have expanded, giving them rights to conduct surveillance, arrest, produce propaganda, among other powers. Over the course of its existence, the Guards have controlled an increasing part of the domestic economy. The funds from sources enrich IRGC members, veterans, among others, and influence the ways they vote and use their money. Ultimately these influences further empower the IRGC, increasing its role and stature in the regime.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.