Vahid Nick Pay, University of Oxford
Andrew Omond, University of Oxford
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pervades most aspects of life in post-revolutionary Iran. Ostensibly the regime’s security organisation, the IRGC’s political clout and economic heft enable it to extend its influence beyond security and into foreign policy. This study employs a constructivist perspective, casting light on the key elements of the IRGC’s identity, notably its religious discourse. In doing so, it develops our understanding of how the organisation’s beliefs and values affect the foreign policy agenda of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This article draws on IRGC press statements, ideological training materials and its constitutive charter in conjunction with an analysis of the organisation's behaviour to delineate an image of an organisation staunchly loyal to the total imperium of the ‘House of Leader’, and which buttresses the regime with its militant, violent and religiously hardline outlook. Working to promote rather than define Ayatollah Khamenei’s system of Islamic governance, the IRGC’s role is closer to that of enforcer and implementer than of autonomous agent of foreign policy. This article contributes to the wider literature on constructivist idealism by highlighting the importance of ideas as relational and performative elements of foreign policy.