The word ‘Basij’ (Mobilization) which is one of the most hated words in Iran since the start of the mullahs’ rule is today reminiscent for most Iranians of a character with attributes like mercenary, criminality, ragged nature (Lumpenism), and sloppiness, and finally, the thugs of society and those people who the rulers hire to control the people and repress them.
In the 8-year Iran-Iraq war, they were whose young people, mostly underaged, were used as minefield cleaners for the IRGC.
After the war, these group of people changed their goals and started the repression of the people. The regime’s hardline cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda in 2020 revealed the goal of the Basij and its class descent: “Many of the young people who had become thugs in their regions because of poverty and deprivation became local Basijis with the right cultural work and getting to know Imam Hussein, who prevented many of the riots. (Hamshahri Online, October 8, 2020)
Earlier, one of the IRGC commanders Hossein Hamedani, who was killed in Syria, had explained this issue better:
“We did something with intelligence work that was a boom in Tehran. We identified 5,000 people who were present in the riots but were not from any political parties and movements, but were among the miscreants and thugs, and controlled them at their homes.
“The day they called (for protests), they were controlled and were not allowed to leave the house. Then I made them members of the battalion. Later, these three battalions showed that if we want to train mujahedeen, we must bring such people who are dealing with blades and machetes to work. One of these was a man named Sattari. When he hit the crowd, he was injured by 70 percent and was martyred last year.” (Tabnak, October 9, 2015)
If we want to compare the Basij with armed forces outside Iran, we can compare them with Hitler’s protective squads or the SS which were the most important tools of Hitler’s terror.
These days while the regime is facing a more frustrated and angry society, the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei on March 11, 2021, asked the Basijs to “create hope” on the internet for the regime’s desperate forces and encourage each other to “stand”, “not become lazy” and “not get tired”.
Now it seems that after this the regime has started a new chapter in using these Basijis for repression and the expansion of the regime’s fundamental ideology.
Gholamreza Soleimani, one of the senior officers of the IRGC who commands the Basij forces, made big claims and said:
“The establishment of the Islamic State, the implementation of a new Islamic civilization, and the socialization of the revolution are the second steps in the leadership’s statement, and we must move towards these indicators so that the Islamic State can be established.” (State-run daily, Entekhab, September 29, 2021)
To reach this goal, he asked for the training of 8 million new Basijis.
“Training eight million young Basijis with the help of middle circles and NGOs and forming an Islamic government to realize all aspects of religious democracy is one of the goals of the Basij, and all bases should also pay attention to this important issue.” (State-run daily, Entekhab, September 29, 2021)
This big claim can be easily translated into the regime’s need for thugs and killers to counter the people’s upcoming protests.
But it should be noted that the sociopolitical condition of Iran is changed compared to the situation at the time of the 2009 protests. And the regime is no longer able to repress the people with these thugs.
Claiming to build a ‘civilization’ and an ‘Islamic government’ with these thugs, is propaganda to hide the regime’s weakness and desperation and is like someone who is whistling in the dark.
Like the regime, Shah at the end of his reign has dreamed about the same ‘great civilization’ but could not withstand the people’s will for change.
‘Islamic civilization’, like ‘great civilization’, is an inverse expression of the coming days of decline and fall of the regime.