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Ceremony to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution
Members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards hold a placard that says "Down With U.S.A" during a celebration to mark the anniversary of Islamic revolution at the Behesht-e Zahra (Zahra's paradise) cemetery in southern Tehran, Iran on February 1, 2010. The celebration is to mark the 1979 return of Ayatollah Khomeini from exile. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian
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The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Persian: سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی , Sepāh e Pāsdārān e Enqelāb e Eslāmi, also Sepāh) also known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution. Sepāh has 125,000 military personnel including ground, air and naval forces. It also controls the paramilitary Basij militia which has 90,000 active personnel, and in recent years has developed into a "multibillion-dollar business empire." The Chief Commander of the Guardians is Mohammad Ali Jafari, who was preceded by Yahya Rahim Safavi.

Like many young Iranians during the 1980-88 Iran–Iraq War, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a member of the Army of Guardians, in the Basij militia. In recent years the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has become a vast military-based conglomerate. It is active in oil and gas, telecom, and farming, to name a few sections, and has considerable economic and political influence . The Guard's expanding economic role is mirrored by an even greater role in politics and security since the presidential election in June 2009 .

Since its origin as an ideologically driven militia, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution has taken an ever more assertive role in virtually every aspect of Iranian society. Its expanded social, political, military, and economic role under president Ahmadinejad's administration — especially during the 2009 presidential election and post-election suppression of protest — has led many analysts to argue that its political power has surpassed even that of the Shiite clerical system.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."
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