Sanctions Relief Won’t Revive Iran’s Economy While Also Enriching The Revolutionary Guards

The Revolutionary Guards will get rich with the loosening of US sanctions at the expense of the Iranian economy – former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Ken Blackwell, has written in Wednesday’s edition of Investor’s Business Daily

In light of the recent release of US soldiers, Blackwell writes “we can expect economic sanctions on Tehran’s nuclear program to be lifted soon, provided Iran continues to fulfil its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

Assuming it will, Blackwell argues there will be a “release of billions of dollars of Iran’s frozen assets”, however, “the agreement does not specify who will receive this money.” 

Blackwell laments the fact that “the overwhelming proportion of the funds will probably go straight to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the very people whose images were broadcast on Iranian state TV parading our sailors with their hands behind their heads.”

This is because, in reality “more than 50% of Iran’s gross domestic product is controlled by 14 entities, all of which are affiliated with the military and security apparatus and controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.” This is according to the Paris-based Middle East Studies Foundation. Therefore “virtually all Western businesses that invest in Iran will be dealing with these entities and contributing to the expenses of the Revolutionary Guards, including financial aid to the Assad regime in Syria.” 

This is why Blackwell warns that “When Rouhani visits Italy and France later this month, he’ll try to entice European entities into doing more business with Iran. Even if he’s successful, Iran’s economy will remain engulfed in such crises that there’s no prospect for serious changes without major political alterations, which seems as unlikely as ever.”

“The money to be released from sanctions won’t seriously boost that economy or improve the lives of everyday Iranians. It will be at the disposal of the Guards and other entities that dominate Iran’s economic infrastructure.” Blackwell continues, “Its real effect will be to provide for the expenses of this regime’s terrorism, export of fundamentalism and suppression of the Iranian people, including dissidents such as members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.”

Proof of this is seemingly abundant, for example “in September, the French Accor hotel chain signed a contract with the Iranian company Aria Ziggurat on the management of two 4- and 5-star hotels, Ibis and Novotel. Aria Ziggurat is 100% owned by the Segma tourism investment group, the Persian abbreviation for Iran Cultural Heritage & Tourism Investment Group, a branch of the Revolutionary Guards’ companies.”

“The deferral of Iranian wealth to the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields is obligatory for the Iranian government. The supreme leader has outlined his “6th Economic Plan,” which will be implemented on March 21, calling for a portion of the country’s oil income to be placed on deposit to provide support for “revolutionary entities,” i.e. the Guards and foreign militias.”

Blackwell warns “Any such siphoning of Iran’s new revenue streams is sure to have a negative impact on the domestic economy, since the prospective recovery is already severely limited.” As Mr Blackwell suggests, it’s The Revolutionary Guards who stand to gain by the loosening of the sanctions.