Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, December 09, 2016

Origins of Iran's Basij

The stories that inspire loyalty and obedience. It's part of socialization.

The Making of the Basij - Basij Mostazafan - attack dogs of the Iranian regime
The Basij - Basij Mostazafan – or “mobilisation of the oppressed”, is an Iranian militia group that is fanatically loyal to the Iranian clerical leadership, and is often seen rolling out onto the streets of Iranian towns and cities on motorbikes, beating innocent street protestors with clubs and wooden staves, and often using snipers to pick off the ringleaders of such demonstrations, shooting them dead.

The Basij comes under the umbrella of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and is often used by them to carry out vicious attacks against the populace, of the type that the Guards themselves would rather not dirty their hands with, as they have always looked upon themselves as the protectors of the people, and liked to be respected rather than reviled by their fellow Iranians…

But when it comes to understanding the fanatical devotion of the Iranian Basij, to their clerical masters leading the regime, you need to return to the Basij militia’s baptism of fire during the Iran/Iraq War.

In September 1980, at the start of the war, with Khomeini’s troops facing Saddam Hussein’s professional, well-armed military battalions, the situation looked dire for IRGC forces, and so… a suicidal band of zealots in the form of the Basij - seemed to be the perfect answer.

The Basij is made up of boys aged 12 to 17, as well as middle aged men not suitable for standard military service…

As far as their absolute devotion to their religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini was concerned, it was proven beyond doubt during the Iran/Iraq War, when minefields along the front line were becoming a direct obstacle for advancing Iranian troops, and a swift method was needed to eradicate this threat…

[H]eavily indoctrinated with Khomeini’s radical ideology, into carrying out acts of insane martyrdom, they were sent in their thousands to march across minefields laid by Iraqi troops, which were hampering the advance of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and in droves these youngsters were blown to smithereens…

So this was the birth of the Basij, a militia contingent that revels in its past glories, and thinks nothing about sacrificing life on earth for their Supreme Leader. Even though suicide was against the teachings of the Quran, in the minds of these fanatical zealots, such sacrifice would take them through an open door straight into paradise.

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