Saturday, November 26, 2005

Heavy Weapons for Iran's Basij Militia

Meysam Tavab, Rooz Online:
In an unprecedented move, even during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war, Baseej Volunteer Militia has started arming some of its units with heavy arms. Taking place under the current administration, it is not clear whether a new role has been added to Baseej or whether its mission has changed altogether. What is not clear is the purpose of arming this force at peace time. And since Baseej has been acting as an arm of the Judiciary, especially under Ahmadinejad’s administration, this change is looked at suspiciously. The principal mission of Baseej resistance mobilization force, under the law establishing it, is to carry out “military” responsibilities on the borders of the country.

This development is puzzling because even at the height of Iran-Iraq’s 8-year war when military operations were common at the fronts, Baseej only utilized light arms. It also has been using light arms in its operations to combat drug smugglers. Perhaps most importantly, the training structure and content of Baseej has only involved light arms. Whenever the force had needed heavy arms in its operations against drug smugglers, units of Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps or the army have been called in.
Mullah Meshkini answered this question recently when he told the Baseej their main mission was to guard the existence of the regime against the ire of the Iranian people.