The Basij Resistance Force
- The Basij Resistance Force is a volunteer paramilitary organization operating under the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). It is an auxiliary force with many duties, especially internal security, law enforcement, special religious or political events and morals policing. The Basij have branches in virtually every city and town in Iran.
- The Basij have become more important since the disputed 2009 election. Facing domestic demands for reform and anticipating economic hardships from international sanctions, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has mobilized the Basij to counter perceived threats to the regime.
- The Basij’s growing powers have in turn increased the force’s political and economic influence and contributed to the militarization of the Iranian regime.
- Yet the Basij also face problems, reflected in their poor handling of the 2009 protests, limited budget and integration into the IRGC Ground Forces in July 2008. Targeted U.S. and international sanctions against the IRGC could further weaken the Basij.
- Ashoura and Al-Zahra Brigades are the security and military branch tasked with “defending the neighborhoods in case of emergencies.”
- Imam Hossein Brigades are composed of Basij war veterans who cooperate closely with the IRGC ground forces.
- Imam Ali Brigades deal with security threats.
- Basij of the Guilds [Basij-e Asnaf]
- Labor Basij [Basij-e Karegaran]
- Basij of the Nomads [Basij-e ‘Ashayer]
- Public Servants’ Basij [Basij-e Edarii]
- Pupil’s Basij [Basij-e Danesh-Amouzi]
- Student Basij [Basij-e Daneshjouyi]
- Regular members, who are mobilized in wartime and engage in developmental activities in peacetime. Regular members are volunteers and are unpaid, unless they engage in war-time duty.
- Active Members, who have had extensive ideological and political indoctrination, and who also receive payment for peacetime work.
- Special Members, who are paid dual members of the Basij and the IRGC and serve as the IRGC ground forces.
- Without a solution to Iran’s internal political turmoil, the Basij’s role and powers are almost certain to grow.
- But because they receive less training than other Iranian security forces, their tactics are often the toughest against dissidents—and in turn generate more public anger that could weaken rather than strengthen the regime long-term.
- Incorporating the Basij into the Revolutionary Guards ground forces may improve the overall Basij performance in the future, but in the short- and middle-term, the IRGC and not the Basij are likely to remain the main pillar of support for the regime.
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