Insider news & Analysis in Iran
Zarif targeted over anti-money laundering comments but he is not moderate

By Poorang Novak

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is facing criticism from within the mullahs’ regime for comments that he made last week on rampant corruption and money laundering in Iranian institutions, with some in the faction of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seeing this as the perfect opportunity to get rid of another member of President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet.

Zarif made indirect references to Khamenei and the powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on November 11, whilst speaking about those in Iran who are making billions of dollars from money laundering and spending millions to prevent the implementation of financial transparency bills that have passed through the Iranian Parliament.

By November 18, there were reports that Zarif could potentially be dismissed over the remarks. Head of the judiciary Sadiq Larijani, a Khamenei supporter, called Zarif’s comments a “stab right in the heart”, said he’d been exploited by parties “hostile” to the Iran Regime and asked why Zarif did not file a complaint with the judiciary about his corruption claims.

That’s a good question and the answer is that the judiciary is in the pockets of Khamenei and the IRGC, so they would always find in favour of them. Another good point, which is sorely lacking in most media coverage of this news, is that corruption is rife in the Iranian Regime from Khamenei to the judiciary to the parliament, including Zarif. To be clear, there are no moderates in the Iranian Regime; each mullah is intent on preserving the dictatorship that allows them to rob the Iranian people, regardless of who they want in charge.

On Tuesday, the Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported that a member of parliament had said that a motion for Zarif’s dismissal is being prepared to be put to a vote and that Zarif has been required to submit evidence to support his claims, which he hasn't yet done.

Money laundering bills

Zarif made his comments after the Guardian Council rejected legislation that Iran needs to implement in order to join the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), calling it un-Iranian, and demanded 11 revisions to it.

European countries have demanded that Iran help to prevent terrorist financing, with joining FAFT being one of the requirements. If Iran refuses, it will lose even more support from the international community, which has been under threat since the US pulled out of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.

However, joining FAFT would limit IRGC activity abroad, cutting funding to the IRGC Quds Force and terrorist militias like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthis in Yemen.

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