Created: 9/1/1980

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Unrest in the Military


Unreal in Ibe Mililary (u)

in the Iranian military appears to be growing as seniorincreasingly disenchanted with Ayatollah Khomeini and thedominate Iran. Coup plotting apparently ha* becomeJuly the regime uncovered a

Officersoup face numerous difficulties,ack of support among enlisted men andhomeini informers among the junior officers- The regime has sought tooup by purging the military of dissidents, monitoring the officers' activities throughrevolutionary committees, and establishing tbe Revolutionary Guardounter**eight to the regular military.

A successful coup appears unlikely at present, out dissident officers could try to kill Khomeini, hoping that chaos would ensue and bring down the regime|


I'nrtM in Ihe Military(U)

Iran's profcssiorial military officers arc beoming increasingly restless and dissatisfied wilh AyatUiah Khomcini'i Islamic Republic. Report* of unrest in the office, corps have become more widespread' in roceni months, and ihe regime has become increasingly alarmed aboui (he threatilitary

inonths after the fall of ihe the Iranian mililary rertuvnstate of disarray. The Army, which Had almost JOO.OOO personnel under the Shah, now numbers onlyen. Major equipment such as armor is onlyo '5 percent operational, while ihe helicopter fleet is onlyoercent ready. The Air Force has dwindledersonnel tond only about half its aircraft are ready for actkm. The Navy has dropped0 men to[ |

The military- especially thebeen hard hit bypoorack of leadership, and poor discipline The leadcnhp has been purged down to the field grade level, and ihe latest purges will cilend even further. Disregarding orders is common

ofdecline in theha* been onccatuc of the

unrest among the officer corps. Professional miliury men are appalled by the clerics' disdain for their profession, which many *ec a* the country's main defense againstSoviet andin the country's internal affairs.^

The militaryrivileged class under Ihe Shah and the last bastion of (he Pahlavi monarchy. Most of the senior officii* *ided with the Shah until the last days before Khomeini took power. The mililary il still lied in the public mind with tint Shah, and ii* loyally to the cleric* who seized control in9 hai* alway* been questionable

The Shah recruited his officers primarily from the upper and middle classes. By background and education the officer corps it inclined to be leu sympathetic to the Shia clergy lhan meetany officer* believe the clergy is "ruining" Iran and opening the door to an eventual Communist and Soviet takeover.

The purges of the officer corps have served to increase enharspines* while intimidating those who remain. Senior officer* in every service have been purged, tried, and executed. Virtually every officer in the military probably

has seen friends killed by the regime. (The annex lists prominent officers executed since the revolution.)^

Junior officers and the enlisted ranks arc much more sympathetic to the Islamic Republic than the senior officers. Most are drawn from the lower classes and tend to be more pious. Someey role in the fighting in9 that brought down Prime Minister Bakhtiar's government, and most have fought loyally against Khomeini's enemies in Kordestan and other troubled areas. Nonetheless, the enlisted ranks and the junior officers arc divided, like the majority of Iranians^

July Plot

Islamic regime has claimed repeatedly that il has broken up military coup plots. Inor example, Tehran claimed to havelot among Azarbayjani officers in Tabriz. President Bani-Sadr claims to have foiled six plots since he took power in January. Wc cannot confirm how many of these claims are based on serious plots and how many arc efforts to rally support for the regime. The Khomeini regime almost always blames coup plotting on foreignusually the United Slates. Israel. Egypt, andan effort to discredit its enemies and appeal lo Persian nationalism. Q

By far the most serious plot was unraveled in July. Onuly Bani-Sadr announcedoup had been discovered at the Shahroki Airbase near Hamadan wherealf dozen officers were shot while preparing to take ofrto bomb Bani-Sadr's office, Khomeini's home, the Revolutionary Guards' headquarters, and the Qom Theological Seminary. The regime blamed the United Stales. Iraq, Egypt, and Israel for fomenting the plot. M

The regimeassive purge of the military in reaction to Ihe plot. More thanfficers have been executed for alleged participation in the plot, andave been arrested. Those arrested included the commander ofd Armored Division located in Khuzistanthe commander or the Khorramshahr Navalormerof the Gendarmerie,ormer commander of Ihe Air Force. (u>

TheIslamic regime has taken numerous measures iouccessful

coup. The abortive July plot illustrates some of the difficulties

plotters face, including the lackignificant base among enlisted men and junior officers and the numerous spies among ihcm.f^

The regime clearly hopes that the mass arrests and executions of senior officers will intimidate the militaryhole|

Immediately after the revolution the clerics sought to defend their hold on power byystem of revolutionary committees to monitor military activities throughout the armed forces chain of command. In many units the comrmilccs include enlisted men. officers, and clerics, who can overrule the commands of the senior officer*.J |

At the top of the chain of command. Khomeini has apoointed his own representative* to report oa ihe activities of the military. After the July psot was uncovered, the governmeni reportedlyew directorate to the joint chiefs under the directionleric to formalize thecommittee structure in the military and ensure its oversight of the officer corps, f"

Under the Iranian conslttution Khomeini is commander in chief of the armede delegated ihi* power to Bnni-Sadr inut the President has been unable to gain full control over the military. The clerics have successfully resisted giving Bani-Sadr control over the Revolutionary Guards, and some senior fundamentalists, including Ayatollah Khamanei and former Defense Minister Chamran. have played key roles in the past in assuring clerical oversight of the military.!-


establishment of the Revolutionary Guardsngclab) in9 was also intended in part to serveeterrent to coup ptalers. The regime hopes that the Pasdaran can serveraetorian

The Patdaran's relations with ihe mililary are poor. The Guard*ell-deserved repoiaiion for poor discipline and brutality, and regular military pesonnei chafe under the Guards' oversight.!-

Dcspiic their combat experience againsi the Kurd* and otherhe Pasdaran arc still largely untested. Their capabilities have been under-mined by extensive factionalism and infighting among the clericalThe Guards'training has beenore litlle more lhan



the regime's efforts, plotting involving the military almost certainly is continuing in Iran. The rightist exile groups, the leftists such as the Tudch and Mujahcdin, and other dissidents all recognize the value of an apparatus in the military. I-

order to succeed both in toppling Khomeini andewhowever, coup plotters would have to deal with theharismatic hold on millions of Iranians. There is no good evidence that dissidents among the officer corpsignificant following among the rank andof whom are loyal to the Islamic regime.!-

On the other hand disgruntled officers couldoup, planning to kill Khomeini, create chuos. and hope that eventually anti-Khomeini forces would prevail.ove could plunge Iran into civil war pitting loyal military units and the Revolutionary Guards againsi dissidents. P


Prominent Iranian Military Officer* Fxeculcd Since the Resolution


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Original document.

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