After weeks of an escalating dispute, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps leaders have met, with Rouhani proclaiming cooperation and support for the elite military command.
Rouhani met the overall commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari; the head of the Quds Forces, Major General Qassem Soleimani; and other commanders to call for a unified effort “guaranteeing national security of the country”.
The Guards have been sceptical of Rouhani ever since he took office in 2013, but hostility has risen since the President’s re-election — by a surprisingly large margin against the conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, backed by the Supreme Leader’s office and the Guards — in May.
Rouhani and IRGC commanders, including Jafari, have swapped criticisms and warnings, especially over Iran’s economy. The IRGC has a large and expanding stake in the economy, which Rouhani sees as a hindrance to Iranian recovery after the July 2015 nuclear deal. The Guards have warned of Government weakness, even accusing some officials of being complicit with Iran’s enemies such as the US and Saudi Arabia.
In a pointed sign of pressure on the President, his brother and former senior advisor Hossein Fereydoun was arrested earlier this month on charges linked to the “Payslips Scandal” of excessive salaries and bonuses for executives of State and State-linked firms.
But Rouhani appeared on Monday to be pursuing a public reconciliaton before his inauguration in early August: “Unity among all forces and institutions is essential for the realisation of the Supreme Leader’s guidelines and serving the people.” He slipped in an allusion to his concern with the hope that “commanders would endeavor to act with total transparency”.
The Guards reciprocated by withdrawing objections to Rouhani’s re-election, congratulating the President. According to Rouhani’s website, Jafari said, “The IRGC is ready for comprehensive cooperation with the administration in realization of the goals of the revolution”.