Mohammad Ali Jaffari, the head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.), has in a speech dismissed American warnings against Iranian actions. “Iran is today in a such a position that it can look at America as a 'paper tiger',” Jaffari said on February 7. He continued to say that “some people even think it is time for America to stop considering itself a superpower.” In his speech in the city of Hamedan, Jaffari also not only strongly defended the record of the Iranian regime, but said the “Islamic revolution is timeless.”

Comment: Mohammad Ali Jaffari was appointed as the head of the I.R.G.C. in September 2007 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei, who is the Commander-In-Chief and a man with a keen interest in military affairs, can theoretically keep top military commanders in position for as along as he wishes. However, since the mid-1990s, Khamenei has rotated the head of the I.R.G.C. every 10 years. In fact, the clerics in the Islamic Republic have always made sure military men do not become political figures in their own right. Accordingly, regular reshuffling at the top of the Iranian military has to be seen in this context. Should Jaffari be replaced in 2017 it will have little bearing on the organization or the operational trajectory of the I.R.G.C. which in recent years has invested heavily on two fronts: it is now the undisputed quashing force against the Iranian opposition at home while the I.R.G.C. spreads it militant and often sectarian message to neighboring states through its proxies such as Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi Shiite-dominated militia.