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BALTIMORE — While commentators have charged that Britain capitulated to Iran and handed them a humiliating victory in obtaining the release of the 15 British marines, it would appear that something more like the opposite is actually the case. But to understand why this is so, we have to look at the larger picture of internal Iranian politics against which the crisis played out.

Our Iranian problem is actually a problem with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — or Pasdaran in Persian — and allied institutions like the Basij militia. These are the “power” agencies that serve as the political base for the conservatives inside Iran. In return for its support, political leaders like ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have allowed the IRGC to grow into a semi-autonomous state-within-a-state.

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