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Who's in charge in Iran?: Does it matter?

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Friday, April 26, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

An expert's assessment that Iran's elite military branch has seized economic and political power from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei doesn't mean the nature of that nuke-seeking nation's leadership has changed. Whichever faction's running Iran, it's still crazy.

In an American Enterprise Institute discussion, Ali Alfoneh said Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which he has long studied, has made Iran into a “military dictatorship” that holds the ayatollah “hostage in the hands of his own praetorian guard” while working “to preserve the illusion” that his radical Muslim clerical regime remains in charge, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

The power shift's roots go back decades, to IRGC resentment of clerics who enriched themselves during the Iran-Iraq War without sacrifice. Privatization efforts led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's first military-veteran president, enabled the IRGC to amass private economic assets totaling about $80 billion, Mr. Alfoneh said.

The IRGC “has very little respect for the U.S., particularly this president and this administration” and sees President Obama's overtures as signs of weakness, according to Alfoneh. And he said the IRGC and the clerics could clash over ending Iran's nuclear-weapons program in exchange for easing Western sanctions.

The bottom line? Iran remains a terrorist-friendly hotbed of Islamist hatred for America, Israel and their allies — no matter who's really calling the shots in Tehran.

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