An article in Iran Focus on January 26 describes Iran currency as dropping to record lows. Meanwhile, the budget for the next calendar year (March 2017 to March 2018), presented by the cabinet of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is described as a “moderate”, which is currently under review in Iran’s parliament, is a fully military-security budget, according to economic analysts.
The recent plummet of Iran’s currency raised concerns about the country’s economic status, especially with a new administration coming to office in Washington.
“The street value of the rial reportedly hit 41,500 to the dollar on December 26, compared to 35,570 in September and beating the previous low of around 40,000 recorded in 2012,” reports indicate.
The budget bill is estimated at around $106 billion, at its entirety. The breakdown of how significant portions were allocated to institutions involved in domestic crackdown and foreign-bound terrorism/expansionism, according to Iran Focus, follows:
- Ministry of Defense (MoD) (and affiliated entities including the Armed Forces Social Welfare Organization – MoD Counterintelligence – Defensive Research – MoD Ideological/Political Organization – Armed Forces Geographical Organization – Malek Ashtar University, affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards): $6.57 billion
- Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) (and affiliated entities including counterintelligence, Supreme Leader representative office in the IRGC, paramilitary Basij militia, Imam Hossein University and the IRGC Officers College): $7.01 billion
- Army Joint Chiefs of Staff and affiliated entities, including the Ideological/Political Office, officer colleges, counterintelligence and Army Medical Sciences: $2.24 billion
- Armed Forces Chief of Staff and affiliated entities: $891 million
- Intelligence services and police, including the Ministry of Intelligence, State Police, affiliated entities and Supreme Leader representative offices in universities across the country: $3.29 billion
- Efforts involved in exporting Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism enjoy a huge budget through various means. This is most specifically provided through budgets allocated to the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, the Al-Mustafa International University and the so-called “Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation” (the entity specifically involved in supporting Iran’s warmongering and support for unrest in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and …): $1.41 billion
- The so-called “Shaheed (Martyr) Foundation”: $3.1 billion
These statistics don’t take into account the the sporadic funds provided to the IRGC, Ministry of Intelligence, and the Ministry of Defense under various pretexts. Anyhow, the total amounts to more than $24.51 billion, equaling to more than 23% of Iran’s upcoming fiscal budget. Iran Focus cites these statistics from Iran’s budget book published by the regime’s Budget and Planning Organization. They also call the 55% escalation from $4.52 billion to $7.01 billion, related to the IRGC, the highest increase in Iran’s 2017 fiscal budget.
During Rouhani’s tenure, Iran’s military budget has risen 70%. This includes the budgets allocated for the IRGC, Basij and the army. Statistics below have been obtained from Iran’s official budget bills:
2014: $9.29 billion
2015: $12.02 billion
2016: $14.5 billion
2017: $15.9 billion
In an interview with state-run TV, last year, Rouhani made the following remarks, “There are those who claim our cabinet is focused on the economy, bringing inflation under control, resolving depression, providing health care and foreign policy affairs, and fails to see to defense matters. I must say we have taken significant measures in strategic weapons and beefing the defensive foundations. Such measures during the past two years equal to 80% of the past ten years combined.” (State-run TV, August 2, 2015, and State-run IRNA news agency, August 3, 2015)
Iran Focus calls the above statistics “far from the truth”, saying, “The most important portion of the funds for the regime’s crackdown and warmongering campaigns are provided through Tehran’s trade and financial cartels run by the IRGC and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This includes the “Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam” – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam; the IRGC construction wing Khatam al Anbia, “controlling at least 812 affiliated companies worth billions of dollars and deemed by Washington ‘proliferators of weapons of mass destruction,’” as explained by Reuters; Bank Ansar; Ghadir Investment and … Statistics regarding these entities are always kept in the dark.”
At the same time, the above mentioned statistics clearly show escalation in military spending under Rouhani’s watch, which can likely be attributed to Iran’s involvement in the wars of Syria and Iraq.
That Iran is allocating further funds for war efforts are blamed on the failed U.S. administration rapprochement policy, releasing billions after the highly controversial Iran nuclear deal by many.
“The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region,” said Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group of Iranian dissident entities, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
The latest result of Iran allocating such funds were the massacres in Aleppo. The rise in numbers is a likely prelude to more increases in defense/security budgets, as the regime gears for more tumultuous times ahead. Iran’s currency fall can be attributed to economic qualms around the incoming US Presidency of Donald Trump, and Iran’s own upcoming presidential elections.