Nov 23, 2021 09:54 UTC

In this episode, we are going to discuss Imam Khomeini’s views on armed forces and his recommendations on the issue which he has dealt with in his testament.

Armed forces are among the most important bases of security and stability of countries as they are in the first to confront any foreign aggression and threat against public security. Formation of an army in the modern shape in Iran dates back to some two centuries. The formation of armed forces has undergone ups and downs but during the Pahlavi rule, Iran’s army became one of the equipped armies in the region and in the second half of the 20th century it was considered as the most powerful armies in the region and the world thanks to the oil money that was generously spent to purchase American weapons and ammunitions. In view of this, Iran’s army turned into the gendarme of the region. Upon the fall of the Shah in February 1979, the Iranian army weakened for a short while, but with Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist army’s attack on Iran in 1980, the Islamic Republic revised its armed forces and succeeded to prevent Saddam’s expansionism and safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The 8-year imposed war proved the high status of armed forces for the country. Hence, for the past three decades after the war, reinforcement of the armed forces has been one of the most important priorities of the Islamic Republic. This has its roots in the Islamic ideology. God says in ayah 60 of surah Anfāl, “Prepare against them whatever you can of power.” Imam Ali (Peace upon him) writes in his famous letter to his top commander, Malek Ashtar, “The soldiers are the fortresses of people, the ornament of rulers, the dignity of religion and the ways of security; and people will not last long except by them.”

The formation and strengthening of armed forces has been emphasized in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Accordingly, Iran’s armed forces are divided into military and law enforcement forces with separate duties for each of them. The military forces consist of the Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). According to Iran’s Constitution, the Army is duty-bound to maintain the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country; while the IRGC’s duty is to maintain the Islamic Revolution and its achievements. The Constitution emphatically prohibits the membership of foreigners in the Armed Forces. Furthermore, establishment of any foreign base is forbidden in the Iranian soil even for peaceful purposes. The Leader of the Islamic Revolution is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. According to the importance of the Armed Forces in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini (God’s mercy upon him) dedicated parts of his testament to the issue. He writes, “The Armed Forces, including the Army, the IRGC, police, committees and Basij, have especial characteristics. These [forces], which are the strong arms of the Islamic Republic and the guardians of borders, ways, cities, villages and finally the guards of security and comforters of the nation, should be paid special attention by the nation, the government and the parliament.”

Imam Khomeini warns against the role of big powers to make use of military forces in different countries for regime change and staging of coup d’états. He writes in his testament, “Take heed that what in this world, is abused by big powers and their destructive policies, are the armed forces; as, through political games, coups and regime changes are done by them. And the deceitful profiteers bribe some of their leaders and, through them and the deceived commanders, take the countries in their hands, subjugate oppressed nations and deny independence and freedom of these countries. And if virtuous commanders take the helms [of power], there will never be the possibility of a coup or occupation of a country; and if there is, it will be defeated and unsuccessful by devoted commanders.”