Author

Saeid Golkar

Saeid Golkar

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science & Public Service at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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The Evolution of Iran's Police Forces and Social Control in the Islamic Republic

Police Forces

Saeid Golkar
Middle East Brief 120, July 2018

Summary

In late June 2018, demonstrations and strikes spread throughout Iran. This unrest followed a widespread wave of protests that began in the final days of 2017 and continued into January. Both sets of protests started over economic issues, but soon turned to political and social concerns. Despite their dramatic spread, however, these recent protests have been suppressed quickly by the Iranian government’s police forces, known as NAJA, and largely without the help of Iran’s paramilitary militia (the Basij) or the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). In this Brief, Saeid Golkar argues that NAJA and its special forces have evolved over the past decade specifically to prepare for such contingencies, and its recent success in controlling and suppressing protests is the result of a continuous process of restructuring, expansion, and professionalization of police forces in post-revolutionary Iran. While most academics and policy makers focus on the Basij and the IRGC when discussing the Islamic Republic’s coercive apparatus, this Brief describes how NAJA and its special forces have become ever more important in maintaining domestic public order, blocking reform, and ensuring the survival of the Iranian regime.


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