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

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.

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In a live hour-long television interview, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) spoke about the functions and operations of IRGC, his experiences during the Iran-Iraq war, and the different views of top officials toward signing UN Security Council Resolution 598, which called for a cease-fire in that war.

Major General Mohammad Ali “Aziz” Jafari, the head of IRGC, drew a parallel between differences between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and other political figures who convinced him to end the war to circumstances today, in which some political figures are pushing Iran’s top leadership to pursue relations and negotiations with the United States.

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Rouhani Tells IRGC: Stay Out of Partisan Politics

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A team from the United Nations announced today that it will head to an Iraqi camp of Iranian exiles to investigate the deaths of dozens of its residents. The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) said on Sunday that Iraqi forces had killed 52 of their members in a raid at Camp Ashraf, the group’s longtime base in Diyala, Iraq. The Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which is how they are known in Iran, was a leftist-Islamist group which left Iran after the 1979 revolution over a power struggle with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Continue reading

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Iran Police Dress Suspect in Women’s Clothing, Parade Him in Public

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