Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are continuing their fight with the Rouhani Government, pushing back against efforts to limit their holdings in the Iranian economy.
President Hassan Rouhani, re-elected in May, has criticized the economic approach from 2006-2013 of the Ahmadinejad administration which allowed the Guards to bolster their position. Already entrenched through their engineering, logistics, and infrastructure projects, the IRGC expanded their stake by purchasing large parts of State enterprises.
Rouhani indicated that he will pursue a proper privatization diversifying the holdings and investment beyond the IRGC. He is also pursuing foreign investment links which could compete with the Guards’ interests.
Revolutionary Guards head General Mohammad Ali Jafari hit back last week, defending the IRGC’s position in the economy as one for security and not their profit. Jafari, whose term was extended for three years, said the Guards see “solving economic and social problems as much a provision of safety as armaments and military equipment, if not more”.
This week General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Guards’ elite Quds Forces, sent the message that “no one should target the IRGC to weaken and attack it, since today the IRGC’s heart is devoted to a way forward for the country and the people”.
On Wednesday, the IRGC received backing from the Supreme Leader’s office. General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the military adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei, said that “weakening the IRGC….[results in] the weakening of the politics and national security”. He reinforced Jafari’s line with the assertion that the weakening of the Guards would hinder the economy because, “if there is no security in the country, domestic and foreign investment” will not increase.
Safavi invoked the declaration of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, “I wish I was a Revolutionary Guard”: “Imam Khomeini…said [that statement] from the bottom of his heart and I hope that people will not seek to weaken the IRGC.”
Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati, the head of both the Guardian Council and the Assembly of Experts, chided Rouhani for his behavior during and after the May 19 election and said, “What would happen to this country’s security without the IRGC? One dimension of the IRGC is to serve [the government].”