Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, November 13, 2018 - The Iranian regime’s internal quarrels about approving the CFT bill has reached a turning point.
Combatting Terrorist Financing (CFT) is one of many guidelines approved by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to help keep the integrity and transparency of financial institutions. Member countries, which account for more that 190, have to pass laws through their sovereign legislatives to comply with FATF’s guidelines.
On Nevember 8, Ahmad Tavakoli, member of the Expediency Council with close ties to the Supreme Leader’s faction, said that the CFT bill will be passed into law. Previously, other high-ranking individuals close to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, like Hossein Shariatmadari, had described the approval of the bill as treason to the country.
Earlier, Heshmatollah Falahatpishe, chief of the Iranian parliament’s security commission, had said that this week the issue of the differences between the parliament and the Assembly of Experts regarding this bill will be referred to the Expediency Council for mediation.
But before that, statements by Kazem Seddiqi in Tehran’s Friday prayers and the responses it created showed the dangerous differences in Iran’s ruling elite about the future they see fit for the Islamic Republic’s stance towards the west.
Seddiqi claimed that Khamenei is against the FATF and warned Rouhani’s faction saying: “This law has been the same as selling the country’s dignity and independence to the Americans.” Referring to the capitulation treaty in Iran’s shah, when foreigners were not subject to Iranian laws, Seddiqi said: “FATF and the likes are the continuation of the very capitulation law, therefore we expect the country’s officials not to follow these lowly laws.”
“Officials should learn from the Supreme Leader’s statements when he said that you should not follow the plans that are cooked in the colonialists’ thinktanks,” he added, implying that Ali Khamenei is opposed to the FATF bills.
Hashem Hosseini Bushehri also referred to the internal fight about the Iranian regime’s approach towards the West and said in Qom’s Friday prayers: “As the Supreme Leader said, as long as I have the power, the traitors won’t be able to coerce the population to take cover by the enemy.”
Interestingly, except for the above two instances, all the Friday prayer leaders in province capitals remained silent about FATF and the ongoing differences.
Rouhani’s faction swiftly read the meaning of this widespread silence and attacked Seddiqi about his statements. Alireza Rahimi, an Iranian MP from Rouhani’s faction, said: “in this new era, creating crisis and advancing the country towards a war and giving aliens the upper hand, is considered capitulation for Iran. There is no doubt that joining the CFT or FATF is part of the containment and management diplomacy of the current situation. The parliament is also concerned and aware of the current situation.”
Mohammad Mohajeri, close to Rouhani’s faction, accused Seddiqi of stupidity and wrote in an article published on Khabar Online: “In today’s Friday prayers, Seddiqi said that FATF is the same as capitulation. Until now, I was thinking that he doesn’t know what FATF is. Today it appears that he also doesn’t know anything about capitulation.”
Mojtaba Zolnur, chief of the parliament’s nuclear commission and close to Khamenei, talked about new divisions around the CFT bill and said: “There is a movement of repentance in the parliament and some MPs who previously voted for CFT regret that decision due to people’s protests. They wanted this bill to be declined in the Guardian Council and that happened. The problem is that if this bill experiences the same fate as the two Palermo bills and the bill for amending money laundering laws and goes without review directly to the Expediency Council—which is likely to happen—these repentant MPs are practically prevented from withdrawing their votes.”
Zolnur once again attacked Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament, for circumventing the parliament and directly sending the Palermo bills and the money laundering bill to the Expediency Council and said: “The Guardian Council bill was directly sent to the expediency council and that is against the constitution and the parliament’s regulations. I’m concerned about repeating this error regarding the CFT bill.”
Parts of the Supreme Leader’s faction are concerned that the bill is approved in the Expediency Council with Khamenei’s approval.
Differences between the so-called moderates and the conservatives in the Iranian regime are normal. But in-faction battles, especially among Khamenei’s faction, are rare. That is partly because the Supreme Leader can act as the strong authoritarian figure whose opinions should be regarded as God’s orders.
Continuing popular protests, a shrinking economy, and increasing international isolation have weakened the Supreme Leader to a degree that his own minions won’t get in line behind a collective goal.