Hossein Salami Appointed IRGC Commander

April 22, 2019

On April 21, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Hossein Salami as the new commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The IRGC is Iran’s most powerful military and security organization as well as a key economic player. Major General Salami, a veteran of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, had been the deputy IRGC commander. He had previously served as head of the IRGC Air Force, which is responsible for Iran’s missile program. He replaced Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, who was appointed to head the Hazrat-e Baqiatollah Social and Cultural Base, an ideological organization associated with the IRGC.

Salami
Hossein Salami

Salami had previously made public threats against the United States, Israel, and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. “The whole world should know that when we talk about martyrdom it does not mean that we stand still so that the enemy attacks us and kills us. If the enemy opts for a war, we will become fully offensive,” he said in February 2019.

President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif congratulated Salami on his appointment. “I hope that we witness further collaboration and empathy between the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran and growing authority and dignity against any kind of threats and conspiracies,” said Rouhani. The following is a roundup of quotes from Salami and reactions to his appointment.

 

IRAN

Major General Hossein Salami

Salami

“The U.S. threats over the past year have had no achievements other than making Iran more powerful. We have become such a major power today that we can destroy the enemy's interests at any point and respond to the enemy at every level, and this current power has been created as a result of this very pressure from the enemy.”

―Oct. 16, 2018, in a speech in Iran’s southwest

“We announce that if Israel takes any step to start a new war, without a doubt, this war would be the same war, which would end in its elimination and the occupied territories will be retaken.”

―Jan. 28, 2019, in remarks to the Iranian press in Tehran

“We warn the regime of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which orchestrate some evil plots in some parts of the country (Iran) and have a dream of bringing insecurity into the country, that you will never succeed in increasing tensions with the Islamic Republic.”

―Sep. 28, 2018, in a speech in Tehran in response to the terrorist attack against an IRGC military parade in Ahvaz

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Establishment is a practical and true model of Islamic civilization. Our 40-year-old struggle with the enemies is on this very issue that if this model succeeds, it will cross geographical boundaries.”

―Feb. 25, 2019, in a speech in Tehran

“The whole world should know that when we talk about martyrdom it does not mean that we stand still so that the enemy attacks us and kills us. If the enemy opts for a war, we will become fully offensive. Martyrdom does not mean that only we will be killed; before we kill dozens of enemies, none of us will be martyred.”

―Feb. 23, 2019, in a speech in Kerman

 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

KhameneiIn the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,

IRGC Brigadier General Hussain Salami,

Given the expression of  the need for change in the leadership of the IRGC brought forward by IRGC Major-General Mohammad-Ali Jafari, and while appreciating a decade of valuable service by him, taking into account your qualifications and valuable experiences in important managerial positions and various responsibilities in the revolutionary, Jihad-oriented, and popular sectors of the IRGC, I promote you to the rank of Major-General and appoint you as the commander-in-chief of the IRGC.

Improving capabilities in every aspect, readiness in every domain, reinforcing the roots of the IRGC that include piety and wisdom, increasing methods of management that enjoy moral basis and professional abilities, as well as cultural promotion—all of which have been attended to under the command of Major-General Jafari—are required in order to achieve more progress employing your innovations so that the IRGC will evolve taking great steps.

I ask Allah the Great to bestow prosperity on you and your colleagues.

―Apr. 21, 2019, in his decree appointing Salami commander of the IRGC

 

 

In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,

IRGC Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari,

Considering your interest in engagement in cultural arenas and playing a role in the soft war, while thanking your precious efforts as the Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC, I hereby appoint you as the Head of Cultural and Social Base of Hazrat Baqiat-Allah-AlA’zam (our souls be sacrificed for him).

The following are thus expected to be fulfilled: exploiting the extensive capacities and great capabilities that exist in the society, particularly among religious scholars and cultural elites as well as jihadi and revolutionary youth in order to inform and promote the teachings of the Islamic Revolution based on the provisions of the Second Phase Statement, through knowledge-based and strategic planning, mutual relations and synergy with the cultural entities of the IRGC and the Mobilized Forces.

I ask Allah the Great to bestow prosperity on you.

―Apr. 21, 2019, in his decree relieving former IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari

 

President Hassan Rouhani

RouhaniIn the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,

Major General Hossein Salami,

I would like to congratulate your appointment as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution by the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, which highlights your devotion, capabilities and valuable services during the Sacred Defence era.

I hope that we witness further collaboration and empathy between the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran and growing authority and dignity against any kind of threats and conspiracies.

I wish you success in carrying out your duty in this critical point.

I would also like to thank the devotion and hard work of Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari during his tenure.”

―Apr. 21, 2019, in a congratulatory message

 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

“I congratulate you on your appointment as the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps on the auspicious day of the middle of [the lunar month of] Sha’ban, and wish you success and great achievement in this great position.”

―Apr. 21, 2019, in a congratulatory message

 

 

UNITED STATES

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo

QUESTION:  With the maximum pressure campaign, have you detected any change in the Iranian behavior, with the few exception that you mention I think before, which is short of cash of the Hizballah and maybe to not giving all to the Syrian regime?  And also talking about senior leadership, do you have any comment about the appointment of the new leader of the IRGC – I think his name is Mr. Hossein Salami, because he’s been praised as a hardliner, anti-U.S.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So we have watched Iran have diminished power as a result of our campaign.  Their capacity to wreak harm around the world is absolutely clearly diminished.  I talked about it with respect to Hizballah not being able to make payroll in a timely fashion.  I’ve talked about it in other places as well.  What we’re announcing this morning, the designation of the IRGC a couple of weeks back, actions that we’ll take in a handful of weeks – each of these things will continue to support the Iranian people so that they can get what they ultimately are so desperately seeking.

I don’t have any comment on the new appointment of the IRGC other than – IRGC leader other than this:  You described him as a hardliner. …

It is the case that every Iranian leader – that includes President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif – has accepted the notion, has accepted this fundamental notion of the nature of the regime itself, right.  So they accept that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the appropriate method for which Iran to engage – when – once they’ve conceded that, in our view, these distinctions are often – are often insignificant.  That is, if you are pushing and you are supporting Qasem Soleimani’s efforts in Iraq, if you’re supporting the efforts of the IRGC’s Qods Force and Hizballah, and you’re supporting the underwriting of Hamas, by definition that is working against what America has laid out as our objective.  

―Apr. 22, 2019, in response to a reporter’s question at a press briefing

 

John Prentice Caves, a research assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace, contributed to this roundup. 

Photo credit: Hossein Salami via Tasnim News Agency (CC BY 4.0); Salami by Hossein Zohrevand for Tasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]