The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said that he was not hopeful about working with the United States in the nuclear negotiations, but given the economic pressure on Iranians and the sensitivity of the negotiations, he would remain silent.
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.
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.
At the 20th National Assembly of Commanders and Officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), President Hassan Rouhani praised the efforts of the IRGC in defending the country and asked for its help in economic matters, while asking it to function as a non-partisan group in Iran’s domestic political affairs. Rouhani also took arguably his strongest stance to date on the civil war in Syria, blaming the West for taking action for the benefit of Israel.
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.
General Ramazan Sharif, head of public relations for Sepah (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), has given an extensive and revealing interview to Reformist newspaper Shargh. Sharif is described by the author of the article, Mohammad Norouzi, as “one of the few people in the security field who has had a good relationship with the media.”
In a speech in Iran’s Khuzestan province today, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he “received a message that said, ‘If you become too bold, you’ll pay for it.’”
The president continued, “They ask, ‘Why are you traveling at the end of your term?’ Does it make a difference if it’s the end of the term or the beginning?” As president, Ahmadinejad spent a considerable portion of his time traveling to Iran’s various provinces to shore up support for his administration. He is accused of doing so now to campaign in an unofficial capacity for his ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who has not yet announced his candidacy. The message of which Ahmadinejad speaks to is most likely in reference to his bold campaigning efforts and statements.
On April 16, Saham News, a website close to Mehdi Karroubi, published an article which quoted an anonymous source who was present at a meeting between the head of the Expediency Council, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and provincial governors during Rafsanjani’s and Mohammad Khatami’s presidencies. The following day, the public-relations department of the Expediency Council denied the reports attributed to Rafsanjani.
A group of parliament members have signed a letter of protest after police officials had reportedly forced a suspect to wear women’s clothing in public. According to Digarban, this event took place on April 13. According to Nasim online, which originally reported the story, the event took place in the city of Marivan, in Iran’s Kurdish region near the Iran-Iraq border.
The parliament members had “sought to notify the interior and justice ministers” of the event. Security officers had reportedly forced a “famous street thug” to wear women’s clothing and then paraded him in public. The parliament members who signed the letter, including the representative from Marivan, wrote that “this action is against Islamic values and it degrades the clothing and character of Muslim women.”