Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards
"Iran's Revolutionary Guards are one of the most important forces in the Middle East today. As the appointed defender of Iran's revolution, the Guards have evolved into a pillar of the Islamic Republic and the spearhead of its influence across the region. Their sway has spread across the Middle East, where the Guards have overseen loyalist support to Bashar al-Assad in Syria and been a staunch backer in Iraq's war against ISIS-bringing its own troops, Lebanon's Hezbollah, and Shiite militias to the fight. Links to terrorism, human rights abuses, and the suppression of popular democracy have long shrouded the Revolutionary Guards in controversy. In spite of their prominence, the Guards remain poorly understood to outside observers. In Vanguard of the Imam, Afshon Ostovar provides the first comprehensive history of the organization. Situating the rise of the Guards in the larger contexts of Shiite Islam, modern Iranian history, and international affairs, Ostovar takes a multifaceted approach in demystifying the organization and detailing its evolution since 1979. Politics, power, and religion collide in this story, wherein the Guards transform from a rag-tag militia established in the midst of revolutionary upheaval into a formidable military with covert capabilities that extend far beyond Iran. The Guards have been fundamental to the success of the Islamic revolution. The symbiotic relationship between them and Iran's clerical rulers underpins the regime's nearly unshakeable hold on power. The Guards have used their privileged position at home to export Iran's revolution outside its borders, establishing client armies in their image and extending Iran's strategic footprint in the process. Ostovar documents the Guards' transformation into a power-player and explores why the group matters now more than ever to regional and global affairs. The book simultaneously serves as a history of modern Iran, and provides a crucial and engrossing entryway into the complex world of war, politics, and identity in the Middle East"--Provided by publisher.