Iranian Revolutionary Guard: Rough Seas Ahead?

Iranian Revolutionary Guard: Rough Seas Ahead?

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The following post was writen by ASP Senior Adjunct Fellow Ken Robbins

The recent incident on January 12th in which Iran’s Revolutionary Guard temporarily detained two US Navy Ships and 10 Marines is rightfully being touted as a diplomatic success story.  From all accounts, the US Navy erroneously strayed into Iran’s territorial waters, Iran treated the crew respectfully, and they were released without incident.  Clearly, our diplomatic efforts on the Iran Nuclear Deal forged relationships that allowed this issue to be brought to a speedy conclusion.

Given some of the other scenarios that could have played out with this incident, there are many positive conclusions to draw.  However, what is still a big unknown is if the Iranian Revolutionary Guard saw this as an opportunity to embarrass their own political leadership.  It is well known the IRG is less than enthusiastic about the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. With tension already running high in the region with the recent execution of a shite cleric in Saudi Arabia, this incident serves as a cautious reminder to the United States that there are complicated regional and domestic political implications that we still may not fully realize.   The IRG is exerting its influence in Iraq and Syria, and would no doubt like to do the same in other countries.  However, a new and invigorated relationship with the west and particularly the United States may not allow for that.  Unlike our military in the United States, the IRG has economic benefits for many in the higher echelons of leadership.  If these benefits begin to get disrupted, those same leaders may act to protect their way of life.

Let’s certainly celebrate a much needed win for US diplomacy in a region where it is desperately needed.  However, let’s also remain attentive to the agendas of various actors in the region as we move forward.  If there is anything the last several years since the much touted Arab Spring have shown, predictability on how things will change in decidedly unpredictable.



Kendric H. Robbins is a retired Army officer with more than twenty years of experience serving in tactical, operational and strategic level assignments.  Most recently, he served as a Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

Ken is the co-founder and CEO of Agent Hero Inc., which aims to connect home buyers and sellers with carefully selected professional real estate agents who are military veterans or spouses.

His educational background includes a B.S. in American Politics from the United States Military Academy and a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School where he was recognized for academic and leadership excellence.  His military awards include the Legion of Merit, NATO medal, and UN Meda