Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is seeking to bribe the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to cease its efforts to undermine the nuclear deal with global powers, reports Ali Alfonen – a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – writing for the Arab Weekly.
In a Sept. 15 address to the IRGC's senior leadership, Rouhani bragged about the "revolutionary deed" of "breaking the unjust sanctions regime" and called for the IRGC and other military and security apparatuses to "help the government and the people in production, development and economic growth."
According Alfonen – an expert on the IRGC – Rouhani's message suggests that if the IRGC supports the agreement, a significant amount of money released to Iran as part of the economic sanctions relief will reach the IRGC's extensive business dealings.
Alfonen argues that Rouhani's risky tactic will not prevent the IRGC from accepting the bribe while continuing its staunch opposition to the nuclear agreement. For Rouhani to deliver such an address, the IRGC leadership would have been consulted beforehand, indicating that the hard-line faction accepted the bribe.
But the continued opposition, as Alfonen's headline indicates, could "could torpedo" the nuclear deal.
Increased financial flows to the IRGC's widespread economic interests will lead to more clients and political influence over Iran's elites. Such a situation would only further undermine Rouhani and the relatively pragmatic camp's power struggle with hardliners who actively oppose the nuclear agreement.
This type of deal is reminiscent of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's attempt to encourage the IRGC to stay out of political concerns in return for taking control of significant post Iran-Iraq war reconstruction projects. The IRGC exploited that opportunity to create its now bourgeoning business empire which encompasses major construction, energy, and airline contracts.
Many critics of the Iran deal argue that economic sanctions relief will empower the IRGC and enable hardline factions in Iran to enhance their regional hegemonic ambitions and state sponsorship of terrorism globally.