Documents recently obtained by the Iranian Resistance reveal a great deal about the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) role in Iran’s economy and prove how interdependent the ruling establishment has become on its military forces in general and the IRGC in particular. Some of these documents were given to the UK-based Sunday Times, which ran an exclusive on its Saturday edition on April 29, 2023.
The IRGC holds a significant influence on Iran’s economy. Over the years, the IRGC has expanded its economic activities, establishing numerous semi-private companies to circumvent sanctions imposed on the regime ruling Iran and engaging in large-scale smuggling operations. After the U.S. imposed sanctions on the regime in 2010, the IRGC expanded its economic activities to strengthen its control over the Iranian economy, which triggered rivalry among conflicting factions.
The regime’s leaders have emphasized the importance of reducing reliance on foreign companies, which might withdraw because of US sanctions on the regime. Instead, they have urged the IRGC to take the lead in executing major national projects. It is worth noting that the IRGC’s involvement in economic activities expanded after the Iran-Iraq War and it established a presence in various sectors of Iran’s semi-state-run economy.
The following report sheds light on the coordination, the challenges, the sophisticated relations between the different parties engaged, and how greed is a driving motivator for their workmanship.
The documents obtained by the Iranian resistance provide further evidence that the IRGC has created task forces as part of its approach to advancing the “resistance economy” and circumventing sanctions imposed on the clerical dictatorship. The concept of the “resistance economy” is a key component of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s agenda, aimed at countering the impact of U.S.-led sanctions and international isolation without changing his foreign policy direction. These task forces, operating under the banner of the “resistance economy,” expand the IRGC’s economic activities and focus on strategies such as smuggling and illicit trade to tackle the challenges posed by sanctions.
The first document is a letter authored by then Minister of Defense Amir Hatami to the regime’s Supreme Leader Khamenei in November 2020. Back then, while the regime’s military forces had started an initiative to funnel the government’s resources toward military forces, they were facing some difficulties with the Rouhani administration, who had a different agenda for preserving the regime. Despite serving as a member of Rouhani’s cabinet, Brigadier General Hatami is complaining about the president’s objections, and he calls on Khamenei to intervene and help facilitate their activities.
Translation: In the implementation of the mentioned law and within the framework of its executive bylaw, the Ministry of Oil, through public calls and after evaluating the technical and economic aspects of the projects and the capabilities of the investors, selects qualified project executing companies. The results are presented to the President and the head of the Board of Trustees of the National Development Fund for approval of the feedstock breathing rate table in writing. Following this correspondence, the CEO of the Fund made a request to the Board of Trustees, but unfortunately, the feedstock breathing rate table was not approved.
This is while, in order to quickly start the implementation of the projects, 20 selected projects with a capacity of 1.46 million barrels per day have been licensed by the Ministry of Oil. Feedstock breathing commitments have been subject to the approval of the desired table by the Board of Trustees of the National Development Fund in the permits issued for these projects.
Hatami asked Khamenei to order the National Development Fund to release and funnel its resources toward the so-called privatized petrochemical refineries that are being managed by the IRGC.
According to the information, the refusal to approve the feedstock breathing rate table by the Board of Trustees of the executing companies’ fund has caused serious concern for them, and they have stopped executing the projects, as they will not have the possibility of financial resources refunding in the capital market. Your Excellency is aware that the construction of refineries/petrochemical plants subject to the law will have a significant impact on combating sanctions and will be of great importance and advantageous and will have added value for the country. The delay in launching these projects will increase the problems caused by sanctions to the detriment of the country.
Thereby, in order to persuade Khamenei to intervene, the former Defense Minister is leveraging national security and interests. The letter also shows that the entire wealth of the nation is under Khamenei’s control.
Therefore, if deemed appropriate, please issue an order to the esteemed President, who is the head of the Board of Trustees of the National Development Fund, to keep the feedstock breathing rate table for the upcoming years of the projects subject to the mentioned law, and to immediately present and approve it in the Board of Trustees of the National Development Fund so that the investors can confidently start the implementation operations of the project. Otherwise, all the above steps will remain stalled.
Investors own 990,000 barrels out of the approved 1.46 million barrels per day (equal to one million and four hundred and six thousand barrels per day) for refineries/petrochemical plants and affiliated companies of the armed forces, military funds and the Executive Headquarters of Imam Khomeini’s Order.
Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics.”
During the Ebrahim Raisi administration, the regime increased propaganda and became vocal about the military forces being actively engaged in the economy to solve problems through the Resistance Economy Task Force. They aim to sell crude oil and cash in for themselves.
Another document contains the minutes of a meeting led by IRGC commander Eshaghi, who is tasked to run a special task force for Oil and Petrochemical projects. This document has the letterhead of the Headquarters of the General Command.
The meeting that took place on January 20, 2023, was intended to concentrate all relative activities under the new apparatus they call ‘Command of oil depots and refineries’ so they can funnel the wealth and control the export and cash in the income.
Headquarters of the Armed Forces
The meeting was held at the scheduled time and with the presence of the invited members as described in the invitation letter, under the chairmanship of Commander Ishaghi (Honorable Commander Headquarters for Oil and Petrochemical refineries), and after discussion and review, the following agreements were reached:
1) Ghadir and Shastan Groups should prepare and send the following documents within seven days from the date of this letter:
- The list of names of petrochemical complexes (companies) by Ghadir and Shastan separately
- The order of shareholders, address and telephone, board of directors, and CEOs
- Past, present, and future challenges (at national and transnational level, armed forces)
- Correspondence was made regarding solving the challenges related to paragraph 3
- The planning made along with the possible resources needed
- Declaring the earned incomes up to this date and the possible incomes at the end of the year
2) In order to solve the problems of foreign exchange obligations, a joint meeting was held with Bushehr Petrochemical and the Central Bank’s foreign exchange manager (Honorable Qanbari).
On April 3, 2018, Hamid Ghanbari became the director of the Central Bank’s foreign currency credit supply department. Ghanbari was granted special authority by the Supreme Leader.
3) Ghadir Group (Parsian Oil and Gas Company) to announce the latest information related to the licenses for the transfer of urea to the Ministry of Jihad and Construction, the amounts paid and claims, etc., separately for each of the transfer companies to this headquarters by 18/01/2023.
4) Due to the previous interaction between the headquarters and the oil ministry, the Headquarters for Oil and Petrochemical refineries is ready to review all the rules in the central bank in order to maximize the income from the sale of petrochemical companies. For this purpose, petrochemical companies should specify their problems related to the central bank in detail to the headquarters.
5) In order to speed up and facilitate the correspondence, it was decided that all correspondence between the headquarter and the subsidiary petrochemical companies should be sent through their main group (Shastan and Ghadir) so that necessary response be provided quickly and accurately.
The document unveils the establishment of this authoritative entity, engineered to dismantle every legal obstruction, thereby facilitating the swift advancement of the relentless juggernaut responsible for appropriating the nation’s invaluable resources towards the ambitious undertakings of the IRGC. These calculated actions have yielded substantial benefits, fostering the exponential enrichment of the regime’s high military commanders. Consequently, their vested interests and profound commitment to the regime’s endurance have grown exponentially.
According to a series of reports by Reuters in 2013, the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, possessed a vast empire of assets worth approximately $95 billion. This astonishing figure surpassed Iran’s annual oil revenue.
“The possessions of the current supreme leader Ali Khamenei alone are estimated at $200 billion, while many people languish in poverty because of the dire economic situation in #Iran after 40 years of rule by the mullahs,” the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said in a Facebook post in 2019.
While inflation rises and prices of basic items cut people’s purchasing power by half every year, Khamenei’s assets are growing at the same pace upward. The documents obtained by the Iranian Resistance network show how the regime uses a complex and dedicated apparatus to circumvent international sanctions and keep its ailing terror machine, both domestically and regionally, on life support.
As the Iranian people are paying for this continuum of impunity with their lives, perhaps legislators in the free world can help combat this lethal system with genuine counter-terrorism efforts.