IranBriefing Exclusive; by [email protected]
During the IRGC’s annual convention held in September 2013 in Tehran, the Iranian President gave a speech about IRGC involvement in Iran’s economic sector. His lecture had two parts, one part for the Western world and the other part for the IRGC commanders. During his speech he said: “I do not believe in the rumors spread about the IRGC’s activities in the economic sphere” and later on during the same lecture he emphasized and invited IRGC to take up even more major projects. He added that, “The IRGC needs to take up various major national projects which the private sector does not have the resources to finance and manage”.
In reality wherever there is money, there is IRGC. Below we bring you the full translation of Mr. Rouhani’s lecture during IRGC convention and a listing of IRGC activities in various sector of the Iranian economy and politics without any full explanation since it would take hundreds of pages. An alternative to regime change in Iran, if we are seeking peace in the Middle East and the world, might be to install a civilian body to oversee and appoint IRGC commanders, as is done in the United States military, in Turkey, and in other democratic nations.
President Rouhani’s Speech During IRGC Annual Convention:
Iranian President Hasan Rowhani, referring to the commemoration of “31 Shahrivar” [22 September 1980] said: The IRGC had played an influential role during the holy war of defence along with the Baseej [the Volunteers]. On this sacred front, the dearest friends of the Revolution laid down their lives for the sake of the prestige, honor and independence of this country.
He added: The Revolutionary Guards are the repository of great honor as they guarded not only the borders of the country, but were also the protectors of the limits of God Almighty. The IRGC is a child of the Revolution and had no great time distance from the triumph of the Revolution.
Rowhani continued: It was from the first hours of victory after the Revolution that safeguarding, steadfastness and struggle for preservation of the Islamic Revolution took shape, and later the assumption of the name ‘Islamic Revolutionary Guards’. The Guards put their lives at stake for the sake of the continuity of the Revolution and wherever any danger arose, the Guards were present in the frontline in defence of the Revolution. Continue to the rest of the translation…
A listing of IRGC’s Involvements in Iran’s Economy, Politics, and Military
More than 85% of Iran’s economy is fully controlled by the IRGC. Some of the main sectors are:
1. Economic Sector: Khatam al-Anbia, the IRGC’s Economic Wing, gets ‘no-bid’ contracts worth billions of dollars, and is the main company responsible for hijacking Iran’s economy. It has nearly 900 subsidiaries and employs over 50,000 Iranians and over 10,000 foreign nationals, mainly from Lebanon. As of today, it has undertaken over 1,836 major projects and over 19,000 small projects. It is included in the U.S. OFAC list,
2. Banking Sector: The IRGC controls many banks including Mellat, Melli, Saderta, Refah Kargaran, Sepah, Tejarat, and Parsian Bank. The IRGC also controls many financial institutions including Ansar, Arian and KarGoshaee. The IRGC has formed hundreds of major foundations such as the Mostazafan Foundation, as well as many holding companies and investment institutions.
3. Stocks, Money Exchange and Money Laundering: The IRGC has managed to cause the closing down of most money exchange shops and offices, and replaced them with its own personal shops.
4. Oil and Gas Sectors: The IRGC has a major stake in the petrochemical industry, including oil refineries, drilling companies, the National Iranian Oil Company (aka ‘NIOC’), Arvandan Oil & Gas Company, and the National Iranian Tanker Company. It has almost full control over the oil ministry and oil trading, and most aspects of the wider oil industry. Khamenei’s immediate family members own a major portion of this sector.
5. Communication Sector: The IRGC owns the Telecommunications Company of Iran (‘TCI’) which provides a major part of Iran’s cellular phone services, domestic landline phone services and internet services, as well as controlling Iran Electronics Industries (‘IEI’). The Guards are also a main shareholder in MTN Irancell (South African telecom giant MTN owns a minority share), the second largest mobile phone network operator in Iran.
6. Ports, Customs Offices, Aviation: The IRGC assets include Mahan Air, part of Iran Air, and Pars Aviation, in addition to shipping assets such as the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which operates 115 ocean-going vessels (and is also on the U.S. OFAC list http://www.irisl.net)
7. Various Industries including: Maritime industries such as Sadra; missile development and construction industries, auto industries such as Iran Khodro, Pars, Saipa, and other companies that have license to build Peugeot, Renault, Suzuki, Daimler-Benz, and Hyundai models; metal industries including steel and copper, and other heavy machinery industries; the helicopter industry; and even whole industrial towns with hundreds of factories and companies.
8. Pharmaceutical & Medical Industries: Every year the IRGC imports medicine from countries such as India and Europe worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and sells it on the black market in order to inflate prices. They store tons of rare drugs, often keeping them beyond their expiry date, and sell them knowing they will be used in hospitals and make sick patients even sicker. There have been many fatal cases of surgery where the anesthetics or other drugs used were not effective for this reason.
9. Drug Trafficking, Human Trafficking: Iran is the main route for heroin and opium cultivated in Afghanistan. IRGC has been trafficking drugs from Afghanistan into Iran and then on to Europe, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, making billions of dollars through this trade as well as creating many drug addicts inside and outside Iran. Currently, there are more than ten million drug addicts in Iran.
10. Trade and Investment in other countries: IRGC has been investing in many neighboring countries to bypass sanctions. It has investments on all five continents, the details of which are described below in the “Overseas Operation” section.
The IRGC controls between 40-65% of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of Iran’s government. Some of the details are listed below:
1. Leader’s Office: Khamenei himself is a former IRGC member. His son Mujtaba is the main link between his office and the IRGC, as well as dozens of Khamenei’s advisors and office staff.
2. Expediency Council: A body whose 39 members are appointed by the Supreme Leader to resolve conflicts between the Parliament (Majlis) and the Guardian Council as well as advising the Supreme Leader. More than 55%of the members are IRGC members.
3. Assembly of Experts: The Assembly’s six committees are responsible for overseeing the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. However, their role has been neutered and they have become devout followers of Khamenei, and politely receive a formal lecture from him once each year. More than 32% of the 86 members of the Assembly of Experts are members of IRGC, Basij, and Intelligence. In fact, in order to be chosen for this assembly candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council, Supreme Leader, and IRGC.
4. Guardian Council: The Council is a twelve member body of clerics, judges and lawyers, which supervises elections to, and approves candidates standing for, the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Majlis. 45% of the members of this Council are members of Intelligence and the Basij.
5. Parliament: According to recent research by IranBriefing, more than 56% of the parliament (Majlis) members are members of the IRGC (Pasdaran, Basij, Intelligence, Qods Force) https://iranbriefing.net/irgc-members-in-irans-parliament/
6. Judicial Ministry: Judicial branches across the country are dominated by IRGC appointees. It is estimated that more than 60% of them are IRGC members.
7. Presidential Cabinet: There are now more former IRGC and Intelligence members in Rouhani’s presidential cabinet than there were during Ahmadinejad’s presidency.
8. Foreign Ministry: Even though there is a parallel body under Ayatollah Khamenei in charge of foreign policy and decision making, all being taken in accordance with IRGC policy and objectives, the IRGC also has at least two officials in every embassy. More than 70% of Iran’s foreign ministry staff are members of IRGC.
9. Governors: More than 80% of governors are IRGC members. (Basij, Intelligence, and IRGC.)
10. Mayors: More than 65% of mayors are IRGC members (Basij, Intelligence, and IRGC.)
11. Today every single government agency, office, and institution has an office called “Daftar Hefazat” or “Security Office,” a section of the IRGC which keeps an eye on every single employee. Officers of that agency have a file on every person working there. This section of the IRGC reports directly to IRGC’s intelligence office.
The IRGC has its own military force in addition to the country’s existing military, which was established decades before the Islamic Revolution. All three branches of the traditional military are controlled and dominated by officials and military personnel from the IRGC, who are all the Supreme Leader’s appointees. The Supreme Leader’s representatives have the final say in choosing or replacing officers, and exert strong influence on decisions by military officials. In addition to the three traditional branches of the military;
1. Air Force
the IRGC has added a few new ones to the list:
4. Basij (Militia)
5. Aerospace Sector, Airports
6. Army Joint Command Center (IRGC & Regular Army)
7. Quds Force
8. Cyber Technology & Cyber Warfare
9. Nuclear Industry
10. Chemical & Biological Industry
11. The Ansar-Ul-Mehdi Corps which is responsible for the protection of top government officials and members of parliament.
The IRGC has full control of all media in Iran. No one would dare criticize or write anything against the IRGC. Some of the top news sites that belong to the IRGC, or have IRGC officials as their managing directors, are as follows:
1. TV: All TV stations are controlled by the IRGC, and the current head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is a former IRGC member.
2. Radio: Inside Iran there are hundreds of radio stations broadcasting programs which brainwash even the best educated members of the public.
3. Satellites: IRGC has invested millions of dollars in satellite technologies and satellite programs in Iran and the Arab world.
4. Websites: The IRGC pays thousands of Basijis to manage and post news on websites, all of which are registered under various names belonging to the IRGC.
5. Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.): There are thousands of Basij members active in social media, each having dozens of fake accounts.
6. Newspapers: The vast majority of Iranian newspaper chief editors and management are IRGC members.
7. Books: All books published in Iran have to be endorsed by Iran’s Guidance Ministry which is under the control of IRGC or is affiliated with the IRGC. Iran’s Supreme Leader and the IRGC have the final say on who should be in charge of this ministry.
8. Publishing companies: All publishing companies in Iran must follow IRGC, Intelligence, and Guidance Ministry’s frequent guidelines, restrictions, and red lines, otherwise they will be subject to huge fines and shutdown.
9. Reporters: More than 90% of reporters around the world are members of IRGC or Iran’s Intelligence office.
10. Commentators/ anchors: Other than clerics who have proved to be loyal to the system, only former IRGC members or IRGC endorsed commentators and anchors have the privilege of appearing on live programs relating to social and political issues.
E. Education & Universities
1. Universities: The IRGC has established several universities of its own focusing on military industrial projects, information technology, intelligence gathering, and management. These include the Imam Hossein University, Malek Ashtar University and Imam Mohammad Baqir University.
2. Academic & Scientific Projects: The IRGC has full control over major projects in some of the top universities such as Sharif University of Technology, Isfahan University of Technology, and various universities related to technology and research, and directs them towards military and related information technology applications.
3. Recruiting Top Scientists Inside Iran: The IRGC also recruits top scientists from various sectors and universities to work and teach part-time in its own universities.
4. Recruiting Top Scientists Outside Iran: The IRGC spends millions of dollars every year to hire and recruit scientists from Russia and Eastern Europe to carry out research in the fields of military and technology and to train its graduate students.
5. Academic Take Over: Every year the IRGC ensures a set portion of its Basij members enter top universities and various departments, even if they are not qualified. In this way Basij members are always present in meetings and activities by other students who are not loyal to the regime.
The IRGC began controlling religious activities over ten years ago. Below are some of its activities:
1. Religious Seminaries: IRGC has been establishing its own religious seminaries and training future Ayatollahs and religious figures for the last fifteen years.
2. Friday Prayer Sermons: Every Friday, there is a Friday prayer in every city and town in Iran and all Friday prayer Imams (religious figures appointed by Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader) deliver sermons related to politics and religion. The leader’s office faxes and emails these sermons every week to the Imams, and the IRGC ensures that its representatives in the Supreme Leader’s office oversees the content of these sermons. Even Ayatollah Khamenei’s sermons on most occasions have to be endorsed by the IRGC.
3. Occupying Mosques (Masjids): Every Mosque in Iran must have some Basij members who are in charge of the running of the building. They work with religious clerics to ensure they are effective in shaping people’s religious ideology, and prevent any lecture or program that is critical of the regime. In most cases those who are killed in IRGC prisons are not even allowed to have funerals and religious ceremonies in Mosques.
4. Religious Tourism: The IRGC has worked with other government offices to heavily subsidize travel, and has facilitated lodging in cities where religious figures or saints are buried. Mashad is one of these cities, where one of the descendants of prophet Mohammad is buried, and every year millions of people go to Mashad for religious pilgrimage. This work ensures that the IRGC penetrates deep into the minds and religious beliefs of the Iranians, inculcating the view that IRGC is not just a regular army but an ideology working alongside religion, and therefore whatever it does or forbids has a religious base to it and people must obey them. Outside Iran, members of IRGC are always present as under cover pilgrims accompanying Iranian pilgrims going to religious cities in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria.
5. Religious Fatwas (Verdicts): The IRGC has used religion to extract confessions, and commits torture, arrests, and thousands of executions in the name of religion. In fact, as part of their training, IRGC interrogators are trained to torture to obtain a confession, and in some cases even rape prisoners, believing that their act is indeed a religious practice, and would take them to Heaven, and that having any pity or leniency during torture is considered to be the act of a person who is not sufficiently devout. In other arenas, the IRGC pressures Ayatollahs to move closer to the regime in order to isolate and discredit those religious authorities who are not in line with the Islamic Republic.
6. Religious Donations: Setting up religious Donation Boxes all around the country, in the corner of every city and village, and using clerics and religious leaders to encourage people to donate daily, thereby earning millions of dollars every year. At the same time they brainwash people on a daily basis to believe that their prosperity and success in life depends on their donation. In the past people’s donation would go to their favorite religious authorities, however since the takeover of the IRGC within the religious field, only those religious authorities who are approved by the regime are entitled to public religious donations. Religious figures opposing the regime are either under house arrest or deprived of any government appointments, and in the worst cases they end up in prison or losing their authority to act as religious figures.
G. Overseas Operation
The IRGC has major operations in various countries which it conducts through diverse means:
1. Quds Force
2. Full control and influence on Hizbullah
3. Influence among both Shia and Sunni factions in Iraq
4. Influence within the Syrian regime and its officials
5. Strong influence among Iraqi officials
6. Influence among Kurdish factions
7. Influence among Afghan factions
8. Investment in real estate and the religious sector of Azerbaijan, funding private Shia religious schools
9. Tourism, trade, real estate, and shipping in Turkey
10. Tourism, trade, real estate, and shipping in Canada
11. Tourism, trade, real estate, and shipping in Africa
12. Tourism, trade, real estate, and shipping in Central and South America
13. Intelligence gathering and terrorist activities as well as murder and the disappearance of dissidents
H. Food Industry
IRGC has gained control over the trade, price, storage, distribution, and quality of the food and daily living of the Iranians. In the last five years for instance, IRGC has been importing very cheap and on some occasions harmful food products from India, and as a result Iran’s own rice and tea farmers have been out of work, and people have been made sick by consuming below-standard food products. Iran subsidizes food products. In most cases this involves selling them to IRGC or Basij members wholesale, and they then distribute them among the public, pocketing huge sums of money. Some of the main products IRGC has been profiting from are:
6. Fisheries products
7. Mineral Water
10. Meat and other high protein foods.
I. Mining & Construction
The IRGC earns billions of dollars from mining natural resources and is involved heavily in importing and exporting various minerals. Below are some of the major relevant mining resources in Iran:
1. Gold: Only the government – under IRGC control – has the authority to explore and work mines extracting precious metals.
5. Building Dams: All projects related to dams are undertaken by the IRGC, and are undertaken without any planning consent or consideration of the environment. Recently Iran’s largest lake, Urmia in the northwest of the country, has been drying up due to dozens of dams constructed around it. This has caused salt laden winds spreading salt across hundreds of kilometers as well as causing drought.
J. Miscellaneous Sectors
The IRGC’s activities are not limited to the above industries or sectors; wherever there is money, the IRGC will be there.
1. Prison System: The IRGC has been building dozens of prisons following the fraudulent election, and all prisoners have to pay – sometimes up to ten times the regular price – for their basic needs inside prison. This has put tremendous pressure on prisoners’ families.
2. Tourism Industry: The IRGC is active in the tourism industry both inside and outside Iran. It collects travelers’ information, especially through agents and agencies outside of Iran.
3. Utilities Recently it was revealed that Iran’s Telecommunication industry, which is under the control of the IRGC, has been overcharging people by millions of dollars.
4. Wholesale & Retail Trades: Former IRGC and Basij members are given priority to be chosen to work in the wholesale and retail sectors, and in the import and export arena. Every month, hundreds of IRGC and Basij members travel to Asia and specifically to China to conduct business. They bypass sanctions by working with natives in those countries to bring home products ranging from technology to food, and other items unavailable to the Iranian public. This is a means by which the regime rewards Basij members. The IRGC allow them to conduct business and get rich, in return for Basij help protecting the interests of the regime when required. This can include anything from interfering in the way people dress, to beating up protestors.
5. Kidnapping & Prostitution: IRGC and Basij members have been making money by ransoming kidnap victims, and from kidnapping girls and selling them for prostitution to neighboring countries. In other cases, the IRGC uses prostitution for espionage inside and outside Iran, as well as trapping people inside Iran during demonstration.
6. Use of Orphans. The IRGC and Iranian Intelligence (MOIS) uses orphans in various overt and covert operations, taking advantage of the fact that these agents have no known identities that might be identified by enemies. They are trained to be extremely brutal and ruthless in some cases.
7. Importing, Sale, and Distribution of Luxury Cars.
If the IRGC is not removed totally from Iran’s politics and economy, and its military domination and expansion is not restricted, and if its top 100 commanders are not dismissed or retired as soon as possible, the whole world including the Iranian people will inevitably pay a heavy price for the destructive authority it wields.
The IRGC might make some substantial concessions to the West in order to survive in the short term, but sooner or later its brutal ambition will cost many lives across the world. People within Iran will be the first to suffer, but so too will Western societies.
An alternative to regime change in Iran, if we are seeking peace in the Middle East and the world, might be to install a civilian body to oversee and appoint IRGC commanders, as is done in the United States military, in Turkey, and in other democratic nations. A final thought for those who believe Rouhani’s election will bring real change.
And to ensure a permanent solution, the concept of Velayat Faqih (Leadership of Jurist) must be abolished from the Iranian constitution.
Read Part 2 here