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Iran's New Status Quo
Rouhani Lashes Out at Revolutionary Guard

On Monday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani accused the Revolutionary Guard and other regime insiders of benefiting from corruption and of threatening the Islamic Revolution in a speech to senior officials. As the Financial Times reports:

“Continuation of corruption, expansion of corruption and deepening of corruption means the [political] system and the [1979] revolution are at stake” [Rouhani said….]

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

“Our [economic] problems will not be resolved unless we battle corruption,” Mr Rouhani said, calling for “public supervision” by civil society, unions, political parties and the media to help the government clean up state-run sectors.

The government has pledged to shut down some credit institutions affiliated to the Guards and other power centres, and increase supervision on the banking system, end the expropriation of land by powerful bodies and individuals, and levy taxes on organisations which currently enjoy tax exemptions — including companies affiliated to the armed forces and Astan-e Qods, a powerful, conservative religious foundation.

This speech could be a sign of an intensifying power struggle to determine how Iran will deal with the new status quo—in which Iran’s economy is struggling due to falling oil prices, but not struggling so much that it feels the need to cave on a nuclear deal that would remove sanctions. While a nuclear deal would have given Rouhani extraordinary clout, and an outright failure would have vindicated the hardliners, the extension of the negotiations poses a challenge to both sides. Iran’s politics remain a black box, but it does look like something may be kicking off inside it.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    The test is how well Rouhani fares a few months to a year after saying things like this. There are probably more voters in Iran who support something like the Revolutionary Guard than who don’t——-but, we never know for sure when that might tip. We’ve been looking for it, hoping for it in that nation and many others. (Then again, there remains the chaos problem which seems to appear wherever there is hint of a vacuum in actual power.)

    • Pete

      “There are probably more voters in Iran who support something like the Revolutionary Guard than who don’t–”

      True, but the problem is that the Revolutionary Guard has the guns.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Yes, and that IS a big problem. We also know that the chaos of Libya (for instance) is a big problem.

  • Ed

    Or it could be a ploy to further his “moderate” credentials when he actually has no real power. He says how awful the Revolutionary Guard is, and Western appeasers can say “look how moderate he is! we should make a deal with him.” When in reality, Khamenei is in charge and will have his bomb come hell or the arrival of the 12th imam.

  • Fat_Man

    The idea that any member of the Iranian regime is a “moderate” is delusional. Different Iranian politicians can belong to different factions, and they can have opposed material interests. But, like the Soviets before them, they are all revolutionaries.

    There can be no hope that any change in personnel will change the way that the institution operates. Our best hope for changing their behavior is an extended bombing campaign. The next best is sanctions, but North Korea proves that a regime will let its population eat grass before it gives up any power because of sanctions. After those too, there is death. Khamenei will die in the relative short term. There might be infighting over who his successor will be. Maybe they will all kill each other. But the smart money would bet on the nastiest, most brutal, and most loathsome man being the winner.

  • Brett Champion

    This is probably the beginning of the end for Rouhani. Khamenei long ago cast his lot in with the Revolutionary Guards. The inevitable failure of the nuclear talks will simply be the excuse that Khamenei uses to sideline Rouhani.

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