In This Review

Temperature Rising: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Wars in the Middle East
Temperature Rising: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Wars in the Middle East
By Nader Uskowi
Rowman & Littlefield, 2018, 226 pp

This insightful monograph examines the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran, founded in 1979 to defend the country’s Islamic Revolution. In 1980, Iran created the Quds Force, a detachment of the Revolutionary Guards intended to mobilize Shiite communities throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Uskowi focuses on the Quds Force and Qasem Soleimani, who has led the group since 1998. Although Uskowi has served as a senior U.S. military adviser, his respect for Soleimani is clear. The force’s 200,000 members include Iranians, Afghan Hazaras, Iraqi Shiites, and others. Its budget is largely off the books, siphoned from the operations of Iranian foundations and companies. Annual funding for the group may be as much as $20 billion. Its biggest operation by far is in Syria, but the force is also active in Iraq, through militias that boast 100,000 fighters (twice as many as are in the regular Iraqi military); in Lebanon, through Hezbollah; in Afghanistan, through logistical support for the Taliban; and, since 2014, in Yemen, through the Houthis. In Syria, the Quds Force has established a land bridge from Iran to Lebanon. Despite these gains, Soleimani’s group and its parent body, the Revolutionary Guards, face major obstacles. The risk of a war with Israel is high. Economic decline at home and the fracturing of Shiite communities abroad may also curtail Soleimani’s ambitions.