Skip to main content

The remilitarization of Iran's Basij

The Iranian supreme leader’s recent string of new appointments in the upper echelons of the country’s military suggests an impending remilitarization of the Basij.

At the Dec. 11 ceremony to introduce Gholamhossein Gheybparvar as the new head of Iran’s paramilitary Basij, Gen. Mohammad Shirazi, the head of military affairs at the office of the supreme leader, recounted that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei realized that a number of “ill-tempered” individuals were angry with Gheybparvar when he visited the southern city of Shiraz. In Shirazi’s telling, rather than being upset, Khamenei saw this as showing Gheybparvar’s “perseverance and [being on the] correct path.” While this story at first glance seems inconsequential, the supreme leader has presented it in Iranian media as a ringing endorsement.

According to biographies circulated in Iranian media, Brig. Gen. Gheybparvar was born in Shiraz. He was expelled from school for writing anti-shah slogans before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After the revolution, he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and fought in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. He received his doctorate in Strategic Studies at Revolutionary Guard-affiliated Imam Hussein University. In 2000, he was put in charge of training the Revolutionary Guards’ ground forces. In October 2015, after the death of Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani in Syria, Gheybparvar was appointed as the head of Imam Hussein Headquarters, which is tasked with organizing IRGC brigades. In this role, he traveled to Syria to “prepare the people-based divisions and brigades.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.