Why The IRGC Will Back The Second Horn

“I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long.  One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later.”  (Daniel 8:3   NIV)

The first horn of the ram is the Iranian supreme leader, as I wrote about in my book, Hidden In Plain Sight.  In my last post we saw how the second horn of the Persian ram in Daniel 8:3 has been ascending in power.  We learned that the entity behind the power of the second horn is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) itself. 

I found it surprising to learn that the IRGC actually seems to fit the role of the second horn, because after all, it was established by decree issued by Ayatollah Khomeini on 5 May 1979 to serve the Ayatollah, the first horn.  The IRGC was intended to protect the Iranian Revolution and assist the supreme leader by enforcing the new government’s Islamic codes and morality.  In other words, the agenda of the supreme leader and of the IRGC should be one and the same.  And for many years it was.  But now we find that the IRGC has been veering from the supreme leader in its goals and idealogy, and that the second horn is already here, and it is the IRGC.

“The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.”  (Daniel 8:20   NIV)

However, if the Persian ram is indeed to have two kings as represented by these two horns then it would seem that these two horns, though working with each other for common goals, would each have its own agenda.  Even though the IRGC has increased in economic and military power, as we saw in the last post, that by itself would not qualify it as the second horn with its own agenda.  If it continues to fully back the supreme leader, there is only the first horn. 

The subject of this post is to answer the question of why.  That is, why would the IRGC form a second horn, and challenge the top spot of the first horn?  This post will look briefly at how the idealogies of the supreme leader and IRGC differ from one another.  This may answer for us why the IRGC must form a second horn apart from, and competing against, the first horn.

In Iran, back in 1979 there were two political factions – an Islamic right and an Islamic left.  The founder of the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini kept both factions in balance.  A basic difference between them was that the left believed in nationalized industries and socialism, and the right believed in free markets. 

By 1990 the situation had changed.  Khomeini had died and was replaced by Khamenei.  Khamenei leaned much more to the right and all but abandoned the left.  Also, the model of socialism on the Iranian border – the Soviet Union – had dissolved which made socialism in Iran less popular.  The Islamic left became the Reformists, and today it is called the Green Movement.  They push for a form of Islam that allows democracy and freedom for the Iranian people.  However, as we saw after the 2009 presidential election, the IRGC with its Basij paramilitary crushed the rebellion led by the Green Movement in a matter of days.  What was thought to have possibly been a start for real change in Iran was ended by the IRGC.

Today those on the Islamic right are being called the “Principalists.” [Ref. 1]  This is the faction of the supreme leader, and today it dominates the branches of the government like the judiciary and parliament.  The Principalist faction is dedicated to the Islamic revolution and because of this they have not been able to connect with most Iranians in presenting needed economic and social reforms. 

But starting in 2003, it could be said that a new faction appeared in Iran.  This new faction is increasingly referred to as “Neo-Principalist.” [Ref. 2]  The Neo-Principalists are the political expression of the IRGC and as an ideology and political faction they have broken away from the Principalists.  The Neo-Principalists won the presidency through their most visible politician, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2005 and 2009.

There are three major differences between the Principalists and the Neo-Principalists which I believe would contribute to the establishment of the second horn with its own agenda: [Ref. 3]

1)  Neo-Principalists do not look to the clerics as the leaders of the Iranian state.  The IRGC acts on this by undermining the power of the clerics in Iran, and replacing clerics with those loyal to the IRGC wherever possible. This is of course antagonistic to the supreme leader.  This also means that the IRGC is increasingly free to believe in whatever its justification may be since the clerics are out of the way.  Their justification can be claimed to come from God or the coming Mahdi (i.e. the Antichrist of the Christians).  This belief is in parallel with that of the Hojjatieh.  A leading cleric who is seen by some as the head of the Hojjatieh, Ayatollah Yazdi, believes that no cleric should lead the state and he actively encourages the IRGC to intervene in national affairs, both in politics and in crushing rebellion.

2)  Where the Islamic right has traditionally believed in free markets, Neo-Principalists believe that economic power should be controlled by a small group of people, e.g. the IRGC.  The IRGC has perhaps over one-quarter of the Iranian economy directly under their control, and it is steadily increasing.

3)  Neo-Principalists are much more nationalistic.  They mix their Islamic fervor with Iranian nationalism, pushing for an Iranian Shia supremacy within Islam.  This can be expressed in the future as military ambition and conquest on the part of the IRGC.  This of course is what Iran is called to do in the Second Signpost.

In the past, some news sources have said that the cleric AyatollahYazdi has been president Ahmadinejad’s mentor, and that both men are of the Hojjatieh.  They have been painted in the supreme-leader-controlled news media as fringe.  But now what we see behind the curtain is that Yazdi is providing additional legitimacy to the Neo-Principalists (IRGC’s) future seizure of power, and that Ahmadinejad who is a former commander in the IRGC is the man who has been representing the Neo-Principalists as president.  President Ahmadinejad has added several former IRGC officers to his cabinet which in turn furthers the goals and power of the IRGC.

Prior to the revolution in 1979, the clerics got their legitimacy from the people.  After 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini acted on his beliefs and writings expounded as Velayat-e Faqih and took over the state.  Khomeini believed that one cleric should lead the people and the state, and be like an Islamic shepherd.  In this way the supreme leader has been getting its legitimacy from the state instead of the people. 

Ayatollah Yazdi, however, believes that since the clerics don’t rely on the people anymore, whoever rules Iran is free to believe their legitimacy comes directly from God.  The Neo-Principalist belief in legitimacy directly from God is what would likely give them the belief that they have the right to seize power and realize a new office of leadership.  The IRGC will provide the means of power for the realization of this new office.  The second horn will then be visible when it decides to act.

The Neo-Principalists are probably further along in their grasp for leadership than the Iranian media is letting on.  Many stories in the last two years have spoken of Ahmadinejad being rebuffed and delegitimized by the supreme leader, but these have all appeared in the mainstream news which is controlled directly by the supreme leader.  Of course he would make his own office appear superior.

The Principalists, led by the supreme leader, have actually been instrumental in handing power over to the Neo-Principalists for many years.  Heavy reliance on the IRGC to quell rebellion, allowing the indoctrination of IRGC officers by the IRGC itself and not by clerics [Ref. 4], and privatizing whole industries by selling them to the IRGC, have all been done with the oversight of the supreme leader.  And all these things have only helped both the IRGC’s ascending power, and its idealogical split with the supreme leader.

In other countries in the last few decades, a situation like we see in Iran today would usually lead to one faction replacing the other.  How many nations can you think of had their army replace the civilian government in a coup d’etat?  Every other nation in the third world has had this situation it seems.  But this will not be the case with Iran, because the Bible says so in Daniel 8:3.  The second horn will come up next to the first horn.  The IRGC will not replace or erase the office of supreme leader.  The IRGC’s new office will co-exist with the supreme leader. 

What I believe may happen – and this is entirely speculation – is that after the second horn has established its new office we will learn that a deal was struck.  The supreme leader will have lent additional legitimacy to the new IRGC-backed office to provide at least a thin veneer to the people that it isn’t an outright military coup, and in exchange the IRGC will allow the office of supreme leader to continue its existence with much of its current power.  The two horns will be linked by a common goal – the support and spread of the Islamic revolution.  But their agendas will be different.  So far the supreme leader has been spreading the revolution via the Quds Force (an arm of the IRGC) operating in many countries in the Middle East, but the IRGC will do things differently and spread it through outright conquest.

And since we now realize the truth that Ahmadinejad is president only because he was allowed to represent the Neo-Principalist faction, it is not Ahmadinejad who will decide who will be the leader in the office of the second horn.  It will be the IRGC with its Neo-Principalists who will decide.


[Ref. 1]  Safshekan, Roozbeh and Sabet, Farzan; The Ayatollah’s Praetorians: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the 2009 Election Crisis; Middle East Journal, Vol. 64, No. 4, Autumn 2010; Middle East Institute.

[Ref. 2]  Ibid.

[Ref. 3]  Ibid.

[Ref. 4]  Alfoneh, Ali; Indoctrination of the Revolutionary Guards; February 2009; American Enterprise Institute (AEI); retrieved from http://www.aei.org/outlook/foreign-and-defense-policy/regional/middle-east-and-north-africa/indoctrination-of-the-revolutionary-guards/; January 22, 2013.

Categories: Signpost #2: Iran

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