Tag Archives: Rouhani

#Rouhani cuts the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) budget by 20%

20 Jan

Iran’s President Rouhani presented his budget to the Iranian parliament 3 days ago.

One of the very interesting facts from his latest budget is that he has cut the IRGC budget by as much as 20% (from $6.1 billion this year to $4.9 billion  next year).

Even after this cut, the budget of the IRGC which has approximately 125000 active personnel will be twice that of Iran’s armed forces (Artesh) which has approximately 500,000 personnel on active duty. Next year the budget has allocated $2.03 billion for the Artesh, a rise of 9% from this year.

In my latest interview (from 2 days ago) for I24 News I discuss President Rouhani’s latest budget in more details.

خوب پس: روحانی خطرناکتر از مجاهدین​ خلق​ ​هم ​شد

18 Sep

اظهارات امروز حمیدرضا مقدم فر، معاون فرهنگی سپاه پاسداران در نماز جمعه تهران, به نقل بخش فارسی رادیو فرانسه.

#Iran: Rouhani’s most interesting speech to date

4 Jan

Hassan Rouhani


Most importantly because in his speech today, President Rouhani asked for or as the Financial Times put it, “threatened” to hold a referendum in Iran.

The Iranian president stated that Iran’s constitution allows such referendums for important issues such as economic, political, cultural and social related matters. Although he didn’t specifically say for which issue he wants a referendum, I think its safe to assume that he was talking about the nuclear program. This is right now the most important decision for the nezam or the system of the Islamic Republic to make.

So why would Rouhani call for a referendum?

Most probably because he is confident that the people would back his nuclear strategy, which is assumed to be more flexible than that of the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the hardliners around him.

Why propose a referendum now?

Here we are looking at two possibilities:

1 –  Rouhani is engaged in a behind the scenes tug of war with the hardliners regarding nuclear talks, and he believes that in a referendum the people would back him, thus tipping the balance in his favor.

2- give Ayatollah Khamenei a ladder to climb down from his current nuclear position. When it comes to face-saving, a referendum would provide the perfect excuse for the supreme leader. Ayatollah Khamenei could say that he didn’t want to compromise with the Americans, but as the people demanded otherwise, he had no other choice but to listen, “as he has always done” or so he could claim.

In the same speech today Rouhani also attacked monopolistic powers in Iran (in other words the Revolutionary Guards).

What next? – short-term

The Revolutionary Guards and the hardliners are not going to sit still. Rouhani should expect retaliation from them, perhaps in the parliamenet. They could dismiss yet another one of his minister.

What next? – long-term

Difficult to say. But if Rouhani feels confident enough to challenge the IRGC and the hardliners to a referendum, then it seems he is not as passive as some believed he was going to be (regarding the nuclear program). It also seems that the people could live with what the hardliners call “a bad deal”.

On Iran, Israel’s military intelligence disagrees with Netanyahu

22 Nov

In a meeting with the foreign press, Israel’s Military Intelligence has decided to publicly support the current P5+1 negotiations with Iran, “even one that relaxes the Western sanctions on Iran.” This is in direct contrast to Prime Minister Netanyahu who does not want the sanctions lifted.

Israel’s Military Intelligence has also decided to come out against Prime Minister’s current strategy of “Zero enrichment” on Iranian soil.

According to Josh Mitnick who attended the meeting:

While Netanyahu has demanded that negotiators seek the full dismantling of Iran’s nuclear capability, the military official said the intelligence branch does not think this demand is realistic. The international community isn’t talking about “deleting” Iran’s nuclear program, he said.

Furthermore, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has called Rouhani “a wolf in Sheep’s clothing” the military intelligence official sees his election as a sign of change:

“The fact that economic numbers are not good and that there is some kind of noise among the public – at least about the economic situation – makes challenges for the regime. That’s probably why Rouhani was elected in such large numbers more than anything else.”

When asked if the officer sees signs of real change in Iran, he said that such a shift depends on the outcome of negotiations.

As Josh Mitnick points out in the rest pf his article, Israel’s Military Intelligence already came out on this against Netanyahu two months ago, by telling Haaretz that his election is a sign of “undergoing significant, strategic changes”.

My two cents: As I have mentioned in my previous posts, in Israel there are always several opinions regarding each policy. The fact that the Military Intelligence has come out to dispute some of Netanyahu’s notable Iran policies speaks volumes about the presence of lively, free and uninhibited debate in the state of Israel about Iran. It also shows that there are important people and groups who disagree with Netanyahu’s current Iran strategy. In Israel, no one wants to see a nuclear armed Iranian regime. There is a shared goal, but there are differences regarding the most suitable strategy to get there.

You can read the rest of Josh Mitnick’s article here

Saudi-Backed Salafists Returning To Iran’s Border?

31 Oct

The Iranian government and the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in particular are paying a price with the lives of Iranian soldiers inside Iranian territory for their support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

This seems to be the gist of the statement from Jaish al-Adl, which killed 14 Iranian border guards on the 26th of October.

My latest article explains:


Not starry eyed about Rouhani

27 Oct

Rouhani is not well known for being a defender of human rights in Iran.

In fact he:

spoke in support of the harsh crackdown on student protesters at Tehran University in 1999″.

Please remember these were unarmed students.

And even if Rouhani were a champion of human rights, he would not have much power to change things.

This is because it is “Deep State” which consists of the un-elected group of the intelligence services, the Revolutionary Guards and the supreme leader at the top is in charge of such matters.

Khatami wanted to improve human rights, the Deep State did not let him. And Rouhani is no Khatami (although he is no Ahmadinejad either).

Yes, the Iranian regime seems more moderate in terms of its approach to the nuclear program. But when it comes to human rights, things are unlikely to change much. The life of an Iranian is still worth almost nothing to this group. $20 seems to be the value to the regime.   

Today’s reports of hangings (in retaliation to an attack) and the lashing of Christians are very much part and parcel of the regime which is only moderating its nuclear stance mostly because of sanctions. It’s a shame that the nuclear talks are diverting attention from the brutal way it treats the very same people who it claims its representing in the nuclear talks.

Panel: An Assessment of Rouhani’s Visit to New York

22 Oct

Does Rouhani have much leverage?

Why was he elected?

What are the domestic challenges which his government faces?

What is likely to be the biggest threat which Iran will face in the next decade?

These are some of the questions which I addressed during my recent appearance at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, alongside my respected colleague Robin Wright.