The Revolutionary Guards: An Introduction
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s most important institution. The military-security institution commands huge influence in every aspect of Iranian public life, from culture and the environment to the economy, politics and judicial process. Whatever the field or area, the IRGC is not required to report to anybody and is answerable to no one.
The IRGC was created early after the 1979 Islamic Revolution by the order of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Its declared mission was to safeguard the revolution and its accomplishments. As the years have gone by, it has expanded its sphere of activities. The entities under its control have multiplied to such a degree that it now operates effectively as a parallel government. It interferes in all current affairs of the country and it aims to have control over every aspect of the way Iran is run.
In a series of reports, IranWire presents a detailed portrait of this powerful and mysterious institution and, for the first time, identifies and explains all bodies, institutions and other entities operating under the umbrella of the Revolutionary Guards, at the same time outlining its activities through an infographic and an interactive diagram.
The infographic is a visual representation of the Guards’ organizational structure and presents all institutions under the control of IRGC in one map. It resembles a family tree, a portrait of the IRGC with all its children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren — a dramatic picture of power in Iran today.
In the interactive diagram, the viewer is able to use the mouse to see how various entities under the control of the Guards emerged, and how they are connected — exactly like a family tree.
IranWire has aimed for this series and the overall project to be informative and a solid research tool. But it is not perfect, and there will always be room for updates, enhancements and further information. We welcome your views, ideas and knowledge, so please do get in touch via email, Twitter or Facebook.
(Gharargah-e Sazandegi-e Khatam-al-Anbiya)
The Khatam-al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters was established in 1989 by order of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The reason for the establishment of such an organization was Article 147 of the Constitution, which asks for the involvement of the army in construction and manufacturing projects, disaster relief operations, and educational programs. The Constitution specifically mentions the Islamic Republic Army, but the Khatam-al-Anbiya advocates argue that the concept is also reflected in Article 10 of the IRGC statute. It states that the army should have "active participation in disaster relief operations, educational programs, manufacturing, and construction works,” and therefore justifies the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) presence in these areas. This is why the administration at that time had a very supportive approach toward the headquarters and especially involved them in many construction projects all around the country.
According to Khatam-al-Anbiya officials, it provides employment for 170,000 people, including 30,000 full-time staff and it has around one million independent contractors who work with it. Currently, it will not accept projects that are less than one trillion Iranian rials and has 5,000 contracts with private companies. The managers claim that they have executed more than 2,500 construction and infrastructure projects.
During the last decade, especially during the eight years of Ahmadinejad’s administration (2005-2013), the Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters was the exclusive contractor for numerous government projects. Many Khatam-al-Anbiya contracts were signed without observing official procedures. These include a $1.3 billion (USD) contract for the construction of a gas pipeline from the southern port of Asaluye to Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the east and a $2.5 billion (USD) contract for completing phases 15 and 16 of the South Pars oilfield. After the US sanctions against Iran’s oil and gas sector intensified in 2011-12, Khatam-al-Anbiya tried to fill the vacuum left by international companies. The sanctions were a turning point for the Khatam-al-Anbiya. It has since turned into a giant enterprise and the biggest contractor in Iran. Khatam-al-Anbiya is one of the eight organizations in Iran that can independently enter international projects. The other seven companies are Petropars Company, OIEC Trust, Dana Energy, Petro Iran Development Co, Mapna Group, Industrial Development, and Renovation Organization of Iran and the Executive Headquarters of Imam’s directives.
In recent years, the construction headquarters has designed and executed some construction and infrastructure projects in Iraq, such as natural gas installations, water treatment facilities, development, and renovation of religious shrines and buildings.
Those who join Khatam-al-Anbiya must sign a “construction contract” (Misagh Nameyeh Sazandegi) when they join the Headquarters. University graduates can also choose to work as researchers in Khatam-al-Anbiya instead of serving in the military. Since 2014, Khatam al-Anbiya, and its subsidiaries and companies along with economic bodies under the control of the leader have been obliged to pay taxes. However, according to government officials, they pay little or no taxes. The only agency that can monitor the activities inside the headquarters is the IRGC Intelligence Protection Agency (Sazeman-e Hefazat-e Etela’at-e Sepah). Since 2010, the organization has been blacklisted on the US sanctions list.
Khatam-al-Anbiya' s activities include crude oil, natural gas, petroleum, energy and water treatment facilities, ports, harbors and marine industries, transportation, information and information technology, mines and mining industries, construction and infrastructure, agriculture, health and sanitation, environment, manufacturing and design, a cultural and educational program, and poverty alleviation schemes.
The Khatam-al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters has the following sub-headquarters:
Command and Structure
The commander of the IRGC is the head of the Khatam-al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters and appoints a deputy as the acting commander of operations. Only the chief commander is involved in the policymaking concerning which projects are accepted. Previous heads were: Mohammad Vafaie, Mohammad-Bagher Qalibaf, Seyyed-Yahya Rahim-Safavi, Mohammad Ali Jafari, Abd-al-Reza Abed, Rostam Ghasemi, Abolqasem Mozafari-Shams and Ebadallah Abdollahi. On August 1, 2018, Chief Commander of the IRGC Mohammad Ali Jafari, appointed Saeed Mohammad as his deputy at the headquarters. The Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters has the following divisions: Culture and Propaganda Division, Selection Division, Training and Human Resources Division and Inspection Division.
Crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum: Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters entered this field in 1999 and is now the largest contractor in the country within this sector.
Construction, mining and other industries: Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters is active in building and developing cities and roads, energy and water treatment facilities, information and information technology, mines and mining industries, construction and infrastructure, health and sanitation.
Agriculture: Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters builds water distribution systems and networks, organizes farmers’ unions, and operates its own farms.
Poverty Alleviation: Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters regularly works with the communities living adjacent to its projects. Such work includes cultural, educational and construction programs, building mosques and schools, developing housing units, clinics, public restrooms, roads, bridges and sports centers, the distribution of food, the provision of medical care, and sending families on pilgrimage.
The cultural and educational parts of the program are run by the Supreme Leader’s representative and the Political Division. Such programs have taken place in the following provinces: Ilam, Khuzestan, Bushehr, Hurmozgan, Kerman, Sistan and Baluchestan, Northern Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi, Tehran, Kurdistan, Hamedan, Lorestan, Western Azerbaijan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, and Kohgiluyeh & Boyer-Ahmad. The Kowsar Headquarters is directly in charge of poverty alleviation programs and its officials claim that more than 36,000 programs have taken place thus far. In order to execute its duties, the headquarters works in constant coordination and cooperation with the Basij Construction Bases.
Research: the research and development programs of Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters are done in the “Self-Sufficiency and Efficiency Research Center.” The center was established in 2013. Its mission includes improving scientific standards, implementing the resistance economy, and developing technology with the goal of attaining self-sufficiency. It is also responsible for preparation of the “reverse sanctions lists,” which bans foreign products that have national counterparts.
The subsidiary companies of Khatam-al-Anbiya Headquarters include Sepasad, Nirugostar, Samavat, the water treatment facilities of Fater, the marine industries of Iran Sadra, train engineering of Rahab, Tehran Gostaresh, Valiasr, Ashura, road builders of Shahid Rajaei, Makin, the digging industries of Darya Sahel, building tunnels and dams in Fajr and Hara, building dams and reservoirs Sar-Allah, and more. The total number of such companies is estimated to be over 800. In 2018 alone, the headquarters was in charge of 40 projects valued at 1,200 trillion Iranian rials.
The following is the details of the Khatam-al-Anbiya sub-headquarters and subsidiaries:
- Nuh Construction Headquarters is active in dredging, planning, and construction of roads and infrastructures, planning and excavation of underground spaces and tunnels, loading and installing refinery equipment, planning and drilling of coastal and offshore marine structures, consulting engineering services, and construction, installation and commissioning of oil, gas and petrochemical industries. The following is the list of the headquarters’ prominent subsidiaries and companies:
- Shahid Rajaei Corporation is a contractor for construction projects of bridge, road, tunnel, railroad and oil and gas infrastructure. The Corporation implemented the Shahid Sadr four-storey highway project. In 2015 its managing director, Abbas Akbari, told the media that it had been involved in the construction of 80 percent of the bridges of Tehran. He said that the Corporation’s mission is to carry out timely projects cost-effectively.
- Sadra Company, or Iran Marine Industrial Co, was founded in 1968. Sadra is a shipbuilding and ship repairing company in Iran. The company has also gained entry into the offshore oil, gas and petrochemical industries and infrastructural civil construction, focusing on local and international markets. Among the oil and gas projects that the company has been involved in are the planning and implementation phases 13, 23 and 24 of the South Pars gas fields. In recent years, it has been in the media’s focus because of its large volume of debt and bankruptcy. In 2009, Khatam al-Anbiya purchased a 50 percent share of Sadra’s shipbuilding to keep it from further debt. In 2013, it was reported that Khatam al-Anbiya handed over 62 percent of Sadra’s shares to a private company, Aban Rahan. Apparently, this handover was to take place following a request by the incoming oil minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh to push for privatization and change the country’s management of oil and gas. However, the commander of Khatam al-Anbiya, Abadollah Abdollahi, denied the handover. In 2016, Abdollahi told the media that Khatam al-Anbiya owned 72 percent of Sadra’s shares and had paid some of its debt. He also claimed that, according to Khatam al-Anbiya’s estimate, Sadra had the potential to create 5,000 new jobs. According to Abdollahi, to revitalize Sadra and to enable it to generate economic growth for the country, Khatam al-Anbiya had invested $25 billion (USD) in phases of the Southern Pars fields and would need another $5 billion (USD) for completion of the project.
- Sahel-Sea Institute. There is limited information about the institute. The available data from its contracted companies, such as RSP Company, indicates that the institute is a contractor in the mechanical operation and installation of valve terminals of pipelines. The institute is also involved in infrastructure projects. In 2014, IRNA news agency reported that the institution had implemented 4,650 projects and was given another 12,987 infrastructure projects, including construction of 570 mosques, 780 gyms, 55 Basij bases, and 476 schools.
- Makin Institute is involved in the construction of dredging and marine structures, including ports. In 2008, the Institute was handed the construction of a 12,000-ton quay in Bandar Kish. In 2015, the deputy director of Makin, Hussein Ghorbani, said that the institute was halfway through the dredging of a 17-million cubic meter port in Bandar Chabahar.
Karbala Construction Headquarters is active in the construction of dams, road, transportation, and irrigation. In addition, it is involved in poverty alleviation, job creation, and infrastructural projects in impoverished provinces. According to the commander of Karbala Headquarters in Khuzestan, Colonel Ebrahim Na’imi, it has been involved in 5,400 infrastructure, job creation and poverty alleviation projects in the provinces of Khuzestan, Kurdestan, Kermanshah, Hurmozgan, West Azerbaijan, Sistan and Baluchestan and Khorasan. Some of the prominent subsidiaries and companies of the Karbala Headquarters are the following:
- Sepasd Company or Sepasd Group. The company was established in 1992 with the goal of “contributing to Iran’s sustainable development for present and future generations.” On its website, the group credits itself for the completion of national “mega-projects” such as Karkhe Reservoir Dam, and the Qotvand Olya Dam, the highest earth-fill dam. The Company’s activities include, “infrastructure projects, such as dam and appurtenant structures, irrigation, drainage and water conveyance networks, rail transportation (subway), power plants and power transmission systems.”
An- Sar-Aallah Institute. The institute was founded in 1990 to help with the stated goal of post-war reconstruction. The institute’s activities include large-scale infrastructure projects such as dam construction and tunnel construction. In 2015, its managing director, Mehdi Mohammad Baqeri announced that the institute was implementing the development of a 67-kilometer railroad from Chabahar to Iranshahr, together with the construction of a steel plant in Baft, construction of Polrud Gilan Storage Dam, Shahidan Amir Teimuri Storage Dam (Safarud) and completion of water pipelines from Talivar Dam to Hamedan and Safarud to Kerman.
- Ashura Institute. The institute’s activities include both infrastructure construction projects and cultural projects. In 2016, the commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Headquarters, General Abadollah Abdollahi, said that the Ashura Institute was implementing a water supply construction project in Zarinerud River in Tabriz. Also in 2016, it carried out the construction of the Garden of the Holy Defense Museum of Tabriz, with 10,000 square meters of landscaping.
- Fajr Institute. The institute is active in infrastructure projects. In 2018, its public relations department told the media that the institute had implemented and completed five infrastructure projects in Fars Province in the fields of building of dams, construction and development of transportation facilities. These included completion of the Haiqer Roller Concrete Dam in the city of Firuzabad, and construction of the Kazerun Dam to provide hydro-energy and annual irrigation to about 12 thousand hectares of agricultural lands. In addition, it has been involved in large-scale infrastructure projects in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province.
Kowsar Construction Headquarters. The headquarters’ activities include both large-scale - such as road construction - and small infrastructure projects. Kowsar is also involved in poverty alleviation projects. In 2017, the commander of the headquarters, General Zaedin Hozni told the media that the headquarters was involved in 47,000 poverty alleviation projects in the northwest and southwest of the country, as well as in some provinces located on the country’s borders. Among its activities are the construction of health centers, sports facilities, and agriculture. Below is the list of the headquarter’s important subsidiaries and companies:
- Tehran Gostaresh Co. Its main field of activity is the construction of roads and highways. In 2010, the institute was awarded the contract to build the Qom to Mashhad Highway also known as “Haram beh Haram” (Shrine to Shrine) Highway with a length of 1,100 kilometers. In 2018, the managing director of the Company told the media that it has spent more than 3,540 billion (rial) in poverty alleviation projects. He also said that the institute was currently carrying out a number of highway construction projects, including the Arak-Khoram Abad Highway.
- Samavat Institute. The institute operates in the field of infrastructure communications, energy, information technology, transportation, the petrochemical, oil and gas industries, as well as poverty alleviation projects. In recent years, the institute was granted the contract for a new nationwide fiber optic development project.
- Hara Institute. The institute was founded in 1992 and carries out small- and large-scale infrastructure projects. In 2017, the institute was given the following projects: tunnels and underpasses of Arash, Esfandiar, Niayesh, and the Velenjak Canal. In addition, the institute is active in agricultural projects, such as the implementation of a water supply scheme for the agricultural land of Babakalan, located in the county of Gachsaran in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province.
Qaem Construction Headquarters. Founded in 1992 Qaem Headquarters is active in the construction of tunnels, roads and buildings, dams and power plants. Some of the important subsidiaries and companies of the headquarters are as follows:
- Nirugostar Corporation. The Nirougostar Corporation was founded in 2012 and operates in the fields of electricity and electric power equipment, including electrical boards. It is also involved in oil and gas projects, such as the implementation of the Sixth Gas Pipeline which aims to supply gas to the west and southwest regions of the country. In 2017, the managing director of Amanollah Zare’ said that the company completed the fourth phase of the project which took place in the provinces of Kurdistan and Kermanshah. In addition, the company is said to have completed Iran’s gas pipeline to Baghdad worth 70 million euros.
- Omran Institute. Involved in transportation and railroads, the institute has implemented the following projects: railway and technical structures in Aprin-Bahram, railway and technical structures of Tehran-Mashhad and drilling and consolidation of hydrant tunnels in the Qotvand Olya Dam.
- Fater Institute. Specialists in drilling and the construction of underground spaces, the institute completed the construction of a water reservoir structure consisting of water tunnels in Karun-4 Dam, plus the supply and manufacturing of ballasts for Iran’s railroads and the construction of underground spaces.
- Rahab Engineering Institute. Rahab Institute is active in water transfer and in 2004 was granted the 26km Nosoud Water Transfer Tunnel project. Rahab also completed the construction of the access road to the Karun-4 Dam, plus the 4-Bidleh and Fars cement projects.
- Imen Sazan Engineering and Consulting Institute. Founded in 2008 the institute is involved in engineering, consultation and the construction of roads (and transportation), dams and tunnels. In the past the company had been contracted on a number of projects, including consultation and design services for the Nosoud Water Transfer Tunnel 2, consultation and design services for water transfer structures for the Nosoud Tunnels, and consultation services for the management of the Tehran Metro 7th Line.
- Valiasr Institute. The institute is active in the construction of roads and railways. It has recently been working on five road construction and natural resource projects in Khuzestan Province. One of the projects is a railroad, the 100-kilometer Ahvaz-Sarband Line 2. The institute’s other projects are the Mahshar-Hindijan Beltway, the substructures and pavements of Line 2 of the Ahvaz-Andishmak Railway, and the main road of Kuran Dam to Izeh.
Sepanir Construction Headquarters is involved in oil and gas, technical and engineering projects. An important subsidiary of the Headquarters is the Sepanir Oil and Gas Engineering Company which was granted the implementation of the 15th and 16th phases of South Pars Gas field in 2006.