The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has responded to President Hassan Rouhani’s criticism of IRGC’s role in the Iranian economy, saying “We are not afraid of such rebukes”.
On June 22, Rouhani in an iftar speech had defended liberalization of the economy and expansion of the private sector, also implicitly criticizing IRGC’s control of a big chunk of the economy.
“A part of the economy was controlled by an unarmed government and we delegated it to an armed government. This is not [a sound] economy or privatization”, Rouhani had said.
Sepah News, IRGC’s official news outlet has reported on Mohammad Ali Ja'afari’s remarks, without mentioning a date, but saying that the commander was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting.
Ja'afari in an indirect response to Rouhani reportedly said that if a government is “without guns” it will be “ridiculed by the enemy and will be forced to surrender”.
Opponents of Rouhani often accuse his government of weakness in the face of “enemies” and readiness to compromise.
IRGC’s major role in the Iranian economy has been a very controversial issue with reformists, most Iranian economists and has led to criticism among ordinary people active on social media.
IRGC has involvement in hundreds of companies in various economic sectors; from construction to services and the oil industry.
Continuing his remarks Ja'afari is quoted as saying, “It is possible that they label us as people with guns, yes, but more than guns, we have missiles, which can bust the enemy and we use them against enemies and in defense of the [regime], the people and Islamic Iran’s security…”.
Verbal conflicts between Rouhani and the IRGC have happened many times in the past four years. IRGC and its officials have repeatedly criticized the nuclear agreement Rouhani’s government negotiated with world powers led by the U.S.
In the recent presidential election campaign in May, Rouhani indirectly even accused the IRGC of instigating provocative actions to disrupt the nuclear deal, alluding to IRGC’s missile brandishing and sloganeering against Israel.