Khamenei Rep says Revolutionary Guard has ‘limited’ their economic projects

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The Iranian supreme leader’s representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) told reporters yesterday that the IRGC has “limited” their economic projects.

Hojat al-Islam Ali Saeedi, who represents Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the IRGC, which is known as Sepah in Iran, said: “Just as up until now it has limited its projects, Sepah plans to continue to do this and turn over its national projects to the private sector that has the capacity for these projects.”

Since taking office, President Hassan Rouhani has had to maintain a dual track message with respect to Sepah’s economic activities, which operate under the engineering conglomerate Khatam al-Anbia and its many subsidiaries. While Rouhani has asked Sepah to continue their large scale infrastructure projects, he has been seeking a larger role for the private sector, especially for smaller economic projects.

In defense of Sepah’s economic activities, Saeedi said, “Sepah’s primary goal in entering economic projects is in movement of the direction of Sepah’s natural responsibility, meaning defense of the Islamic Revolution.” Sepah’s function is to “defend the revolution,” a duty that has given it wide powers at various moments.

Saeedi continued: “The time two large companies, Shell and Total, pulled out of their prime projects, an institution must carry this load on its shoulders so that harm does not enter the movement of the revolution, as a result, this action by Sepah is a strategic result.” As Iran was hit with economic sanctions, Sepah, given their experience during the Iran-Iraq war and close relation with the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration, stepped in.

Total and Shell ended their Iran investments in 2010. In 2011, Rostam Ghassemi, a former IRGC commander who had also worked at Khatam al-Anbia, became Iran’s petroleum minister under Ahmadinejad, in a move that many viewed as Sepah’s growing influence in the energy sector.

In recent years, many large-scale industrial projects have been awarded to Sepah. Smaller companies have struggled acquiring business contracts and competing in the market due to sanctions and lack of access of funding, leaving even smaller projects to Sepah. Sepah subsidiaries are all not known and it is unclear to what extent Saeedi means that Sepah has turned over economic projects to the private sector.

At the World Economic Forum last week, Rouhani expressed high hopes for recovery for the Iranian economy in light of the partial sanctions relief as a result of an interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries.

Khamenei representative rejects calls for Mousavi, Karroubi release

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After President Hassan Rouhani’s spokesman said that the administration was working to release political prisoners, including 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative dismissed the idea, saying that “the people” would not allow their release.

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Khamenei Rep: US-Iran War Due to ‘Conflict of Beliefs’

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The Supreme Leader’s representative to Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] said, “A soft war comes from the conflict of beliefs, and our war today with America also comes from this conflict of beliefs, and in this war all of Islam stands against all of the unbelievers.”

Hojat al-Islam Ali Saeedi, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to Sepah, warned that “when the enemy cannot move forward with a soft war, they will start a hard war.” He made these statements in the eastern city of Mashhad yesterday.

The term “soft war” is often referred to as a cultural war that many Iranian officials believe the US and the West are waging against Iran to change the identity and tastes of its public, so that it becomes more friendly to the West and, in their eyes, less Islamic.

Saeedi framed Iran’s standing in the Islamic world this way: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is holding the banner of Islam and it is standing against two imperfect forms of Islam.” The first Islam he described as one “that has taken the shape of al-Qaeda, which has been promoted from the Salafi-Wahabi Arab countries [in the Persian Gulf].” The second “imperfect Islam” that Saeedi believes Iran stands against is from the Western, “secularized Islam, such as one that is present in Turkey.” Continue reading

Hajjarian rejects referendum on Iran’s nuclear programme

On the domestic front

Former advisor to President Mohammad Khatami and Reformist strategist Saeed Hajjarian, has expressed his disagreement with the idea of a referendum on Iran’s nuclear programme, BBC Persian has reported. The idea of a referendum had been posed in July of this year, by former Minister of Interior, and prominent Reformist politician, Abdollah Nouri, and received much coverage in the Western media. Opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, currently under house arrest, also made a comparable proposal.

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