Leaked recordings reveal IRGC soldiers’ ‘doubt and confusion’ over protest crackdown
Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are feeling “doubt and confusion” after nearly six months of anti-regime protests, senior officers have said.
Compounding this sense of frustration is their pay, The Times reported on Friday. The salaries of IRGC soldiers are a quarter of their counterparts in Lebanon’s Hezbollah forces, Iran’s most powerful Middle East proxy, according to sources.
The IRGC has brutally cracked down on the demonstrations that have swept Iran following the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September last year, for not wearing her hijab correctly.
The crackdown has seen 528 civilians killed and tens of thousands imprisoned.
Some 70 IRGC soldiers have died during the unrest, The Times said.
Adding to the force’s frustration, sources say, is the fact salaries paid to IRGC soldiers are a quarter of those granted to their Lebanese counterparts in Hezbollah.
Documents seen by The Times show a guard earns $300 a month, while average pay in Hezbollah is around $1,300.
With the Iranian economy under huge strain, inflation has exacerbated the problem, and a source told The Times: “While Hezbollah militants get richer, the Iranian public is hitting rock bottom.
“It is a painful difference for the IRGC forces who have been on the front line for all these months. They feel undervalued and underpaid.”
Gen. Qassem Qureshi, deputy commander of the Basij paramilitary, a religious militia within the IRGC, told journalists that “a huge fraction of the revolutionary forces on the streets are experiencing doubt and confusion,” leaked recordings revealed.
Morteza Abbaszadeh, an Iranian defense reporter, said: “These young men were simply seeking stable jobs, but many of them could never have imagined this is what they were getting themselves into.
“They live in isolated housing so they conceal what they are really doing from their families, who prefer to believe they are away performing duties such as guarding critical installations such as power plants and governors’ offices.”
Despite running businesses worth billions of dollars, ranging from oil and gas to construction, the way IRGC money is spent is not made available to the public.
Mardo Sorghum, an economic analyst, said: “Nobody knows where all this proxy funding such as Hezbollah comes from, the weapons research, the money going to Iraq and Syria.
“It’s all hidden from the budget and, in turn, the Iranian people.”