Rouhani Blames Corruption, Economic Woes on Revolutionary Guards

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani launched a strong attack on his political rivals this week, warning that widespread corruption endangered the Islamic Republic and implying that the centralized power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a major source of this corruption.

“Continuation of corruption, expansion of corruption and deepening of corruption means the [political] system and the [1979] revolution are at stake,” Rouhani told an audience of senior officials at a conference in the capital Tehran, the Lebanese newspaper Ya-Libnan and the Financial Times reported.

In a clear reference to the influential military force, the president said:

“If guns, money, newspapers and propaganda all gather in one place, one can be confident of corruption there… Even Abuzar and Salman [allies of Prophet Mohammad] would have become corrupt under one organisation that has accumulated everything.”

This is the first time since coming to power that the Iranian president has launched such a direct attack against other officials in his country, Al-Arab newspaper suggested (Arabic link).

Last week, Transparency International ranked Iran 136 out of 175 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index, making it one of the world’s most corrupt states. The Islamic Republic has a long history of cronyism, which has increased dramatically under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose administration gave loans to regime allies at rates far below inflation and awarded projects to companies affiliated to the IRGC without tenders, the Financial Times reported.

In response, Iranian media outlets affiliated with the IRGC attacked the Rouhani government, accusing it of failing to deliver on economic promises and of fueling public dissatisfaction with high inflation and a youth unemployment level of around 23%. Media outlets critical of the president portrayed last week’s 30% increase in bread prices as an indication that Rouhani failed to live up to his promise of improving the economy.

[Photo: President of the European Council’s photostream / Flickr]