Rouhani to Guards: Stay Out of Politics

      On September 16, President Hassan Rouhani warned the elite Revolutionary Guards to stay out of politics. The Guards, Iran’s most powerful military organization, should “belong to the entire nation,” he told leaders at the 20th National Assembly of Commanders and Officials.
      Rouhani praised the organization's rising economic power and asked it to help the government with national projects. The new president seemed to pick his words carefully to avoid provoking the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which has increased its political influence during the last several years. The IRGC and its volunteer paramilitary, the Basij, were responsible for harsh crackdowns on the massive protests following the disputed 2009 reelection of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. IRGC veterans held some 80 out of 290 seats in parliament during Ahmadinejad's second term from 2009 to 2013. The percentage in the current parliament is unknown. But veterans are thought to retain significant influence. The following are excerpts from Rouhani’s address.

Military and Politics
            The Revolutionary Guards Corps “should be far from political currents, because its place is higher than these partisan games and currents. It should not be attached to a side or party.”
            The Guards “should belong to the entire nation, because if a day comes when the unity of the nation is needed, [what] will bring the entire nation onto the field under the banner of Islam is Sepah [the Guards].”
Military and Economy
            “Sepah, which is to protect and be at the front line of defending the revolution, today has a huge responsibility on its shoulders in this field, with the immense capacities at its discretion, in various situations, [and] can take action.”
            “Sepah has manpower, equipment and planning [capabilities], and must act on this situation of the economy which the enemy has targeted… [and] take charge of large national projects.”
Military and Security
           “The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is a corps of peace, stability and security in the region. Our discourse is of democracy, stability, unity, fraternity and fighting terrorism in the wide region.
           “All Iranian citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim, should feel security and peace when they see an IRGC member should consider him their protector.”
           “Whoever Syrian citizens vote for to rule their country, we’ll agree with it.”
           “The Guards do not seek military domination over the region. It [claiming Iran is directly helping the Syrian army] is a mistake by the West, which thinks Iran is after military domination over the region."
            “The arrogant [powers] have, with the excuse of the use of chemical weapons, initiated the topic of attacks against Syria, and are after the consolidation of the interests of the Zionist regime and weakening the resistance front.
           “Democracy should be the basis. In Syria, in Iraq, people’s opinion and vote should rule, in Palestine too. As the Supreme Leader had emphasized, all Palestinian refugees should have the right to return to their country and take part in a referendum.”
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