The US Treasury Department’s recent move to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) under terrorism authority has put the military organization back in the spotlight. The subsequent tweet by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in which he declared that “all Iranians are IRGC” ready to defend their homeland in response to US pressure, gave rise to spirited debate on social media about the Guard Corps and its role in Iranian society.
The US Treasury’s action and Zarif’s response illustrate the dual character of the IRGC as it exists in Iran today. On one hand, it is a political and military organization and the principal actor behind Iran’s internal and external security posture. On the other hand, it is an organization of great social significance, motivated by the ideology of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and a patron of institutions and bodies that define the orthodoxy of Iranian patriotism.