After Khomeini: The Iranian Second Republic

By Anoushiravan Ehteshami | Go to book overview

8

Security and defence strategy of the Second Republic

I was right in the past. Think what the Iraqis could do today with their torpedo boats in the Persian Gulf if we did not have the power to retaliate.

(Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, June 1969)

Another policy area which underwent a major transformation in the Second Republic is security and defence. The policy changes in this field have encompassed the republic’s military structures as well as a review of the country’s rearmament strategy and the development of its defence industries. The previous chapter discussed the issue of Iran’s rearmament drive within the context of the Second Republic’s security environment and foreign policy objectives. This chapter, by contrast, will deal with the mechanisms through which these ambitions of the Second Republic leaders may be realised. In addition it builds on the discussion in previous chapters to show what, if any, might be the impact of the regional arms race and other regional realities on the security strategy of the Second Republic.

Despite the idiosyncracies of the First Islamic Republic’s defence strategy, and in its conduct of the war with Iraq, a constant streak of pragmatism was visible with regard to defence strategy beneath the veneer of radicalism and rejectionism. The politico-military elite, the high-ranking military personnel and their technocratic allies in the political establishment (both clerical and non-clerical), was responsible not only for the planning and execution of the war effort on a daily basis, it also supervised the country’s military procurements for the Pasdaran and the regular army on the one hand, and the republic’s domestic defence production efforts on the other.

The leaders of the Second Republic, including the President and the Faqih, have been involved in the nation’s defence policies since 1980, many having served on important defence-related executive and decision-making committees and bodies. Khamenei, as the former President and the Chairman of the Supreme Defence Council, for instance, was directly involved in virtually every strategic decision taken by the country’s military establishment. And

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