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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the praetorian guard of the Tehran regime, has gained immense power with the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president and is likely to gain more in the months ahead by crushing his political opponents.
The Guard Corps, or Pasdaran as it is known in Farsi, has established a parallel authority in the Islamic Republic over the last few years, giving it wide-ranging political and economic power to a degree that surpasses that held by the military in other authoritarian states in the region.
The 125,000-strong Guard Corps was formed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 as an ideologically pure force to protect the infant Islamic regime following the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.