Following the US designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, ending sanction waivers for the Iranian regime’s oil imports demonstrating the United States commitment to disrupting Iran’s terror network and changing the regime’s malign behavior.
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced today that The White House is ending exemptions from sanctions for countries that import Iranian oil.
“President Donald Trump has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs) when they expire in early May,” the White House said in a statement ahead of a press conference by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” it added.
Five countries, including Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China and India will no longer be exempt from US sanctions if they continue importing oil from Iran after May 2 when their waivers are set to expire.
The following is the White House statement:
“President Donald J. Trump has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs) when they expire in early May. This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue. The United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, three of the world’s great energy producers, along with our friends and allies, are committed to ensuring that global oil markets remain adequately supplied.
“The Trump Administration and our allies are determined to sustain and expand the maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran to end the regime’s destabilizing activity threatening the United States, our partners and allies, and security in the Middle East. The President’s decision to eliminate all SREs follows the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, demonstrating the United States commitment to disrupting Iran’s terror network and changing the regime’s malign behavior. We welcome the support of our friends and allies for this effort.”
Iran’s oil trade under the IRGC’s malicious tentacles
The IRGC extended its economic hold towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 and founded the Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters and its Cooperation Bonyad. Through these institutions, it became Iran’s largest contractor for government projects.
However, the IRGC’s biggest economic breakthrough came in 2005, during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when Khamenei ordered the complete implementation of article 44 of the Constitution which called for the privatization of government corporations.
During the privatizations, more than 475 large government corporations including some of the most profitable companies, were given to the Guards and institutions controlled by the Supreme Leader.
A month after Iran’s president Rouhani took power in his second term in 2017, he cited the IRGC’s control of the economy, calling the Guards “a government with guns”.
“The implementation of the policies of Article 44 was for the economy to be given to the people, ceasing government control, but what did we do? Part of the economy was in the hands of a government without guns and we handed it over to a government with guns,” he said adding that “this was not privatization”.
According to the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the government is supposedly an “elected institution” with limited time in power and various regulatory bodies monitoring its activities. The IRGC, on the other hand, is controlled and affiliated with the state, aka Khamenei, with no supervision.
According to Article 110 of the Constitution, the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and is charged with installing and uninstalling the commander of the Revolutionary Guards and top commanders of Iran’s military and police.
One of the founding fathers of the current regime, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died in January 2017, once said that the “Guards have taken control of the economy, foreign policy and internal affairs” and that “they are not satisfied with less than the entire country”.
Since 2004, the presence of military officials became more apparent in the Majlis, Iran’s legislative body. More than a fourth of Iran’s Majlis was occupied with those with previous IRGC affiliations.
During Ahmadinejad’s administration, the IRGC’s role in executive institutions became even more obvious. The former commander of the Khatam-al Anbiya Headquarters, Rostam Qasemi, was appointed as the Ministry of Oil which gave the IRGC easy access to major oil and gas projects.
In May 2014, the IRNA state-run News Agency quoted Abdollah Haji Sadeghi, the representative of the Leader in the Guards as saying that “governments come and go while the main indicator for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards is the Leadership”.
Thus, the chief role of the IRGC is preserving the regime and the authority and hegemonic power of the Leader at the head of all the country’s affairs.
Along with other state institutions and systems, the Revolutionary Guards is overseen by the Leader of the regime.
A number of these state institutions include the Astan Quds Razavi, the Mostazafan Foundation, the Khomeini Relief Foundation, and the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, all multibillion dollar conglomerates that have seen an increased cooperation with the IRGC in the past few years.
For example, Astan Quds Razavi, which had the current Chief Justice, Ebrahim Raisi, at its head until recently, is a massive business corporation with a real-estate portfolio worth an estimated $20 billion, which effectively functions as a slush fund for Iran’s supreme leader.