14 Oct

Divisions and discrepancies among politicians and decision-makers inside Iran are escalating nowadays over many issues. Meanwhile, Iran’s ratification on the Counter Terrorist Financing law, CTF, has dominated the political scene, which aims to combat financing armed groups and terrorism, increase financial transparency and interbank exchange. The non-public discussion and voting session was held in the Shura Council (Parliament) to discuss Iran’s accession to the CTF. The proposal was approved by 143 members with 120 opposed and 5 abstained, out of the 268 members participated in this session. After being ratified by the Parliament, the draft was forwarded to the Guardian Council and other political, legal and legislative apparatuses for more auditing and then to decide whether to approve it or not.

CTF law is a part of the global anti-money laundering body, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and one of the four legislations that have been adopted to avoid listing Iran on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force. Most recently, the resolution draft has faced widespread protests in Iran, and the parliament has even voted to suspend it in last June. Hassan Rouhani’s government and its supporters believe that passing the CTF law would pave the way for Iran’s banking sector and remove all restrictions for its banking transactions abroad, especially after the withdrawal of the United States from the Nuclear Deal, and hence, it has become necessary for Iran to sign such a law in order to ease the pressure of its crisis and economic and financial problems.

On the other hand, the hardliners and the Revolutionary Guard’s leaders believe that joining the Financial Action Task Force, FATF, poses a threat to Iran, and prevents Tehran from supporting Hezbollah, the Houthi group in Yemen and other pro-Iranian groups in the region. There is no doubt that Iran’s joining this body will limit its terrorist activities, which eventually will increase the marginalization of the Revolutionary Guard and its institutions which dominate the country. This explains why the Revolutionary Guard and the fundamentalists have been adamant that Iran must not join this body, and even sending death threats to those members of the Shura Council who would vote in favor of Iran’s accession to the CTF.

The Revolutionary Guard’s leaders have called on the Guardian Council  to reject the ratification of the CTF following the approval of the Parliament, stressing that Iran will not halt support for its groups in the region and that the Revolutionary Guard would not change its tactics there, especially that Iran’s accession to this treaty would mean dismantling Quds Force, the external military arm of the Revolutionary Guard as well the Iranian regime, the main responsible of exporting the revolution and supporting terrorism in the countries of the region.

What made these divisions and differences worse is the unclear position of Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the country, who apparently fears taking any responsibility of the consequences following Iran’s accession to the treaty. While recognizing that such a move would limit Iranian terrorism in the region, which is the main factor in the continuation of the mullahs’ regime, he is aware as well that refusing to join would further isolate Iran internationally and expose it to further problems, crises and blockade. In addition, his position might irritates one of the conflicting parties, and therefore, politically, he might lose a lot if he sided with one side against the other, especially since Iran’s Supreme Leader position is currently going through a major crisis in light of the decline in its social, religious and even political status and while the country is witnessing its worst days for decades and the regime is in its weakest condition. This what made the Supreme Leader incapable of making decisive decisions and resolving problems as he used to do several years ago.

The Revolutionary Guard’s and the hard-liners’ rejection of Iran’s accession to the CTF law, and the Supreme Leader’s failure to make a decision or to resolve the raging conflict between the political currents, have many implications, the most important of which is the clear recognition from the Revolutionary Guard and other radical fundamentalists of supporting terrorism and their insistence on funding the terrorist groups and destabilizing the region as well as rejecting any work under the umbrella of the international laws, norms and conventions. Moreover, this also indicates to the decline of the role of the Iranian Supreme Leader in the Iranian political life and its inability to resolve differences and making decisive decisions

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

October 14,  2018