"Iran continues to pursue its interests and create a balance of power that is favorable to the Islamic republic," said James Russell, a former Pentagon official and a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. "There is nothing surprising about any of this. In some respects, the decline in U.S. influence in the Persian Gulf and Middle East is seeing the resurgence of regional states directly confronting one another for regional power and influence. Iran is in the game. No question about it."
"The IRGC is an entrenched bureaucracy and organization in the Iranian regime," Mr. Russell said. "Its roles and responsibilities will not be quickly changed or altered by a single leader. It's typically been answerable to the supreme leader and responsible for regime security and internal stability. These were the truncheon-wielding thugs crushing heads in the crackdown in 2009 during the protests against the [presidential] election. These guys aren't going away anytime soon, regardless of who is in charge."