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Iran: The fight over FATF flares again

Iran internal feud over FATF
Iran internal feud over FATF

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

 

Iran, April 10, 2019 - With the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) added to the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, the controversy over the fate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) bills in Iran is escalating as never before.

While the current waivers are about to expire in approximately four weeks, the uncertain prospects for Iran’s oil exports added pressure on both factions among the Iranian ruling elite to act fast hoping to rescue a crumbling economy that has rendered the population unprecedently discontent with the regime and risks to turn into continuous unrest and protests. This could endanger the whole power structure.

Currently, there are two bills that are under review before the regime’s Expediency Discernment Council. If the Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (also called Palermo, the Italian city where the convention was first adopted) are approved in the Expediency Council, Iran will become an FATF member, the world’s de facto financial transparency body.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, foreign minister of the regime ruling Iran, voiced his thoughts in this regard on April 5.

“The foreign ministry and the government believe that these two conventions are in our national interest. These two conventions not only don’t enable the leakage of intelligence, not joining and being blacklisted by FATF will result in banks doing more investigations and diligence in our banking relations, and more information will be at their disposal without reason,” he explained.

The reason why Tehran is opposed to joining the FATF is that the Islamic Republic of Iran is founded on the idea of exporting its revolution—read death and misery—to the four corners of the world, especially Muslim countries.

The regime advances its nefarious goals by supporting terrorist groups and proxies in different countries, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Houthis in Yemen. That’s one of the main reasons why the U.S. has blacklisted the IRGC.

On the same day, Majlis (parliament) speaker Ali Larijani lashed out at those opposing the FATF.

“If the FATF was against national interests, why did you approve it in 2007? … Currently, the FATF is very important for the future of [the regime’s] banking relations,” he added.

Considering the downward spiral of Iran’s economy, the so-called moderate faction close to regime President Hassan Rouhani believe that without approving the FATF, the theocracy does not stand a chance. Increasing international isolation and U.S. energy sanctions will suffocate the regime.

Mohammadreza Tabesh, an Iranian MP close to Rouhani’s faction, warned about not approving the FATF bills.

“In fact, not approving these bills will result in uncertainty in the economic sector and will disappoint the people,” he said in the Majlis...

“The number of people and [educated] elite that leave the country has risen… All of these are rooted in a disappointment that has formed in the society and this is the worst impact of not approving these bills,” he added.

On the other hand, FATF opponents are equally vocal.

Mohsen Kouhkan, an economist and Majlis member close to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s faction, responded with harsh remarks.

“If we accept the FATF-related bills and the sanctions still continue, what are the benefits to us of joining these conventions? … There is no doubt that joining the FATF will not solve any of the country’s problems because our economic problems are not related to the FATF in any way and are rather rooted in mismanagement,” he concluded.

Former Majlis member Hameed Rasaee, close to Khamenei’s faction, lashed at Larijani.

“While specialists review the discussions, it has become crystal clear how empty and unfounded the arguments of FATF proponents on the joining the Palermo and CFT are. So, fully rejecting these colonialist bills in the Expediency Council becomes all the more necessary,” he explained.

As pointed out earlier, FATF bills are a dead-end that prevent the regime in Iran from keeping the delicate balance of walking on a razor’s edge.

Khamenei’s faction points out that joining the FATF while under sanctions won’t help the Iranian economy, especially when the problems are rooted in domestic mismanagement—although it’s way more than that: Kleptocracy, blatant corruption, nepotism, etc.

Hardliners know very well that financial transparency will prevent them from supporting terrorist proxies, so fundamental a tenet to the regime in Tehran that its lack will reverberate throughout its power structure, leading to an eventual demise.

So-called moderates on the other hand, while acknowledging the shortcomings of Europe’s so-called INSTEX (financial medium platform aimed at circumventing U.S. sanctions on Iran) and joining the FATF, argue that this is the only option Tehran currently has that at least prevents the situation from becoming worse.

In any case, this will be a hot summer for the tyrants ruling Iran.

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