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date: 25 June 2024

Iran: Imperial and Republican Civil–Military Relationslocked

Iran: Imperial and Republican Civil–Military Relationslocked

  • Ahmed S. HashimAhmed S. HashimDepartment of Strategic Studies, Deakin University


Iran has traditionally been troubled by unstable civil–military relations throughout its history. In the past, even before the emergence of the academic study of civil–military relations, Iranian imperial monarchs attempted, but often failed to ensure complete oversight of their military forces, due to the nature of imperial rule with its multiple power centers, and to the existence of myriad military forces that were often not under the monarch’s control. The rise of a centralized state in the early 20th century under Reza Shah ensured the emergence of stability in civil–military relations by means of carrots and sticks. Under Mohammad Reza Shah (r.1941–1979), early civil–military relations were quite unstable due to political turmoil and the young ruler’s lack of confidence; in subsequent years, he managed to cement his control over the military by means of patronage, insulation from domestic politics, and stringent oversight of the senior officer corps. The Iranian revolution (1978–1979) succeeded, to a large extent, due to the Shah’s own failures and those of the senior officer corps, both of which were paralyzed in the face of massive political and social turmoil. The successor state, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) achieved control over the armed forces through ideological control and oversight and the creation of institutionalized parallel military structures. Nonetheless, the IRI has faced and continues to face instability in civil–military relations due to war, domestic political and socioeconomic crises, and foreign pressures.


  • History and Politics
  • World Politics

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