In a village in Isfahan. Safavi was one of the leaders of the Iraq-Iran War and played a key role in the 2001 uprising in Herat in November 2001. He also led the battle for Herat during the United States invasion of Afghanistan.
He served as the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps until 1997 when he was appointed its commander, replacing Mohsen Rezaee in 1997.
He was replaced as commander of the IRGC by Mohammad Ali Jafari, former director of the Strategic Studies Center of AGIR on 1 September 2007. Then he was appointed the Supreme Leader Ali Khameini"s special advisor.
On 24 December 2006, Rahim Safavi was listed in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 asking for his assets (among others") to be frozen because of alleged involvements in Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.