With the Shah of Iran in at least temporary exile, and the Ayatollah Khomeiny expressing determination to return to Iran and help establish an Islamic Republic, the Iranian Army takes on a more critical role.
With the Shah of Iran in at least temporary exile, and the Ayatollah Khomeiny expressing determination to return to Iran and help establish an Islamic Republic, the Iranian Army takes on a more critical role. On Monday (22 January) Iran's military chief said the army were united behind the constitution. The following day, journalists were invited to see the Imperial guard in action.
SYNOPSIS: General ali Nashat, commander of the Javidan Brigade - "The Immortals", arrives to review his troops who demonstrated their loyalty to the absent Shah. They paraded to the lilt of French marches.
The troops shouted "Long live the Shah, death to all traitors". The display at the Lavizan base near Teheran by the normally -secretive Iranian Army was seen by journalists as a warning to the Ayatollah Khomeiny.
General Nashat told newsmen his troops were willing "to shed their last drop of blood for their majesties, the Shah and the Empress".
The army is still a privileged group in Iran, and billions have been spent on their armaments.
The Javidan, with a strength of 2,500 men, were specifically assigned as the royal guard. They are carefully selected, and nearly every man has a ranger or para-troops badge. Here they demonstrate their anti-riot control techniques with (pause two secs) bayonets fixed.
A Palace aide, Mr Hossein Amersaddighi, who has assumed the role of royal rearguard commented; "this unit could take over the country at any moment. They nearly mutinied last week and went into Teheran."
Apart from Russian built anti-aircraft guns, and British Chieftain tanks, the Iranian Army has many Iranian heavy mortar weapons.
Most of the Immortals are intensely loyal to the Shah, but at least a few have been affected by the Iranian cataclysm. In December, three of the guards burst into a canteen and opened fire at sergeants and officers, killing five of them.
Larger questions loom over the loyalties of the average conscripted soldier. The decision to close Iran's airports against the returning Ayatollah Khomeiny has also affected Iranian troops stationed in Lebanon.
The troops have been serving as part of the five-and-half-thousand-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
The 600-man Iranian force are packed and ready to go - but the airports closed to the Ayatollah are also closed to them.