Editor’s Note: Amid the escalation of tensions between Iran and the West and the upcoming parliamentary elections, InsideIran’s Reza Akbari conducted an interview with Dr. Seyed Ahmad Shams, a former IRGC political adviser. This is the second part of the interview. Click here to read the first part.
Q: Is there a possibility that the United States government could leave Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei out of the equation and instead negotiate directly with the Revolutionary Guards, just as it negotiated with the Egyptian army before former President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall?
A: The dominant segment in the Revolutionary Guards includes a spectrum of forces with diverging tendencies. I think what some commanders of Revolutionary Guards refer to as “velayat” (Guardianship of the Jurist) does not originate from a deep-seated belief but stems from personal and economic interests that ensure inclusion in the pyramid of power. It is possible that if serious problems arise, this impassioned support will collapse; any threat to these interests can even lead to confrontation with the Supreme Leader. The behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in recent years and his struggle with Khamenei over conflicting interests mirrors perfectly the behavior of other members of Revolutionary Guards in the future if serious problems break out. As Mohammad Nourizad has asserted in one of his letters to Khamenei, “At a time when the country’s system experiences probable changes, individuals such as Hussein Shariatmadari and some chiefs of Revolutionary Guards will be the first to denounce you.”