The truth about the IRGC’s business empire

Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami recently proclaimed that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered the Regime’s Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to curtail its business empire, which made some people hope that there was an end in sight to the IRGC’s stranglehold on the Iranian economy.

Hatami said that the IRGC and the Artesh (Iran’s regular army) were supposed to transfer any entities and assets “not related to their mission” into the private sector with two months.

The offices of the Supreme Leader and the IRGC did not comment on these remarks, but IRGC Brigadier General Esmail Kowsari downplayed them, claiming that the IRGC’s business interests were all related to their mission of safeguarding the regime from internal and external threats and completely legal. However, it is worth noting that under the Iranian Regime, most anything is legal if you’re a high-ranking member of the Regime.

Of course, the facts show that IRGC businesses now dominates in the sectors of energy, construction, telecommunication, media, mining, electronics, automobile, banking, agriculture, and more. Their companies also benefitted substantially from the 2015 nuclear deal.

This is also true of the Basij Organization, a paramilitary force under IRGC control, which has shares in major construction, mining, energy and pharmaceutical companies.

The money gained from these are used to fund terrorism and destabilisation abroad, so it’s not clear how that helps the Iranian people.

Even if Khamenei’s actually ordered the divestment of IRGC businesses (and many in the IRGC are claiming that he hasn’t) it would more likely be a move to placate the Iranian people and the international community, rather than a genuine effort to change.

The latest messaging from Tehran is aimed at placating both domestic and international concerns. On the one hand, by promising to curtail the IRGC economic role, the regime in Tehran would like to defuse the anger of ordinary Iranians who recently took to the streets in big numbers to protest against corruption and mismanagement of the government. IRGC’s policies at home and costly involvement in regional conflicts were among key issues raised by the protesters.

Furthermore, Tehran also expects additional US sanctions – or even the reinstatement of nuclear sanctions if the Trump administration terminates the nuclear deal. Thus, it is taking pre-emptive measures to minimize the impact of US sanctions that are increasingly targeting the IRGC and its affiliated institutions. But no real and significant transfer of IRGC investment holdings to the private sector is likely to happen – at least anytime soon.

The Iranian Regime is incapable of genuine change, as evidenced by previous statements about disbanding the IRGC’s commercial assets by regime’s President Hassan Rouhani and other senior Iranian officials, after which the IRGC’s economic activities only expanded.

Source » middleeastinstitute

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