The sanctions relief that is slated to accompany the emerging nuclear deal with Iran will likely enrich and further entrench Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Reuters reported on Monday.
The Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), created by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, is more than just a military force. It is also an industrial empire with political clout that has grown exponentially in the last decade, benefiting from the favor of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, himself a former guardsman and, most recently, from the opportunities created by Western sanctions.
A Western diplomat who follows Iran closely told Reuters that the IRGC’s recent annual turnover from all of its business activities was estimated to be around $10-12 billion. …
It was the IRGC, unquestioningly loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that suppressed student protests in 1999 and also silenced the pro-reform protests that followed Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.
According to Reuters, $12 billion would equal about one sixth of Iran’s economy.
While the IRGC controls a large chunk of Iran’s economy, sanctions have taken their toll on the force, with one unidentified former Iranian official telling Reuters that “the IRGC-affiliated companies lacked the technology and knowledge and ability to carry out projects,” due to sanctions.
An Iranian executive told Reuters that “boosting the economy will increase the IRGC’s influence over politics and the economy because it will strengthen the hardline establishment.”
In addition to the control it exerts over Iran’s economy, the IRGC also supports terror groups and militias throughout the world through its Qods Force, which is commanded by Gen. Qassem Suleimani. The Qods Force is behind many of the brutal Shiite militias that are fighting in Iraq against the Islamic State, and works closely with the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah. Suleimani has been implicated for his support of terror and sanctioned by United Nations Security Council, though the international community has failed to enforce the sanctions against him.
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