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Observatorio PSyD

The observatory says

17th of January 2020

Vanguardia de Ideas 17/01/2020

Isabel Adé Portero
Doctora en Historia Contemporánea

Maryam Alemzadeh, “Ordinary Brother, Exceptional General.”, Foreign Affairs,, [15/01/2020].

 What Major General Soleimani’s Killing Means for the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). […]

Qasem Soleimani, the controversial commander of the IRGC Quds Force, was an ordinary IRGC commander in this regard, but also an exception. He was himself one of the “great” young commanders who fought in the Iran-Iraq War, having started as a Revolutionary Guard in his hometown of Kerman and progressed to higher levels of command the way all guards were promoted in the absence of a systematized hierarchy and professional training: by showing dedication, initiative, and a penchant for bold, independent action.

Such was the dynamic that ran the entirety of the IRGC in its early years. A nonprofessional, volunteer-based militia, the IRGC was introduced after the 1979 revolution as a transitional force to impose order and repress counterrevolutionary uprisings until the police and the army could be restored. But as conservatives and radicals struggled for power in the early 1980s, the IRGC was institutionalized as a radical militia—and, later, military—parallel to the regular Iranian Army. Owing to the same power struggle, the IRGC lacked the financial and technical support to fully professionalize. But the passionate young leaders and volunteers didn’t feel the need to do so anyway. […]

What kept the IRGC together on the battlefield, through civil conflicts and during the early years of the Iran-Iraq War, was not a central, transparent chain of command with rank orders: insignia were not even introduced until after the war. Rather, the organization cohered through ties of actual and projected interpersonal trust, infused with religious and revolutionary dedication. […]

Soleimani was an exemplary figure for a group defined by such traits. On extraterritorial battlefields, he demonstrated the behavior that Iranian veterans cherished in their fallen commanders and co-combatants: he was fearlessly and selflessly present on the front; he held strong Shiite revolutionary beliefs; he led a humble, austere life; and he treated his men as equals, frequently appearing in the simple khaki uniform of the foot soldiers. […]

But Soleimani’s forte, especially in the post-9/11 Middle East, was to strengthen and deploy non-Iranian militias backed by Iran. These militias, including multiple branches of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, are loyal to Iran because of the financial and technical support they receive. The force they together constitute, however, is fractured, diverse, and mutable. The regional militias share neither the IRGC’s history of gradually institutionalizing revolutionary commitment nor its readily available ties of trust. Throughout the years, Soleimani had gradually forged such ties, which were not automatically present, with several leaders and their forces. His successor will not fit in as easily as a new IRGC commander would during the Iran-Iraq War, because the organizational context is simply not that welcoming. […]

The IRGC Quds Force’s status in relation to other military and political players in the Middle East, however, did rely on Soleimani’s person. His absence will be particularly felt as Iran and its allies try to secure their interests in a region that is changing by the day—amid popular uprisings in Iraq and Lebanon, the United States’ struggle to reduce the number of its forces, and the temporarily contained but generally heated and already disastrous tension between Iran and the United States.”    

DEIROS BRONTE, Trinidad. Violencia sexual en Congo: el estereotipo del «arma de guerra» y sus peligrosas consecuencias. Documento Marco IEEE 01/2020.


“Los altos niveles de violencia sexual en la República Democrática del Congo (RDC), junto con la «estigmatizante» cobertura mediática de la que ha sido objeto el país africano, han conformado una visión de este fenómeno exclusivamente como parte de una estrategia bélica por parte de los actores armados del conflicto congoleño. Sin embargo, este discurso de la violación como «arma de guerra» y la abrumadora atención que suscita en audiencias y donantes internacionales, no solo obvia el elevado número de violaciones perpetradas por civiles, sino que además tiene consecuencias perversas, como la de propiciar graves discriminaciones en poblaciones muy vulnerables y promover el uso de la violencia sexual como herramienta negociadora por parte de las milicias. El estereotipo del «arma de guerra» dificulta además la prevención de esta atrocidad, pues una comprensión inexacta de quiénes son los perpetradores y de los factores que subyacen a esos abusos podría inducir respuestas ineficaces.”

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