By Mahmoud Hakamian
The Iranian Regime is once again beset by internal feuds as President Hassan Rouhani and the leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are engaged in a war of words.
In recent weeks, Rouhani’s foreign policy stance has moved closer to that of the IRGC (i.e. threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz to cut off global oil trade) and this has earned him praise from high-ranking commanders.
In July, IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari praised Rouhani’s comments over incoming US sanctions and promised to help him achieve his goals.
However, the IRGC wants Rouhani to fire his Planning and Budget Organization Chief Mohammad Baqer Nobakht and others economic aides who, according to state media, are responsible for the crisis. Rouhani does not want to.
Jafari told Rouhani to take “revolutionary measures” to control the failing Iranian economy, as the price of gold and foreign currencies skyrocketed, even going to far as to suggest that Rouhani uses the “inherent might and anger we know you are disposed with” to address the mismanagement by his cabinet.
He even makes it clear that IRGC support for Rouhani is contingent on this and given the close ties between the IRGC and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, we can see this as pressure from the very top. It’s also a way for the IRGC to pretend that they are sympathetic to the people’s protests over the failing economy, even while their thugs murder protesters in the streets, and line up a scapegoat. The reality, of course, is that the Regime as a whole caused the economic collapse.
The President and the state security forces have never been close allies and some misinformed members of the media have previously taken Rouhani’s minor criticisms of the IRGC to mean that he is somehow a moderate. He’s not. He has appointed two justice ministers who took part in the massacre of political prisoners in 1988 and he has allowed over 4,000 executions during his term in office.
Rouhani may be in a vulnerable position right now and the Regime may be biding their time until he can be removed, but no one in the West should feel sorry for him. The Iranian people are as much victims of Rouhani as they are of Khamenei and the IRGC.
One thing is for sure, these fights do not show that there is a moderate side to the Regime - what is not there cannot be shown – but they do show how weak the Iranian Regime is. This means that Regime change is right around the corner.