January 4, 2015 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1136

In Iran, Pragmatic Camp Faces Down Ideological Camp

January 4, 2015
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1136


In a January 4, 2015 speech at an economic conference in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, a leader of the country's pragmatic camp, attacked the rival ideological camp, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the country's most powerful military and economic force. He presented a political, economic and cultural ideological line contradictory to that of the IRGC, and stressed that he aimed to direct the Iranian revolutionary regime in the moderate spirit of pragmatic camp leader and Expediency Council head Hashemi Rafsanjani, the fundamental tenets of which are "sustainable economic growth without political isolation"; an economic policy encouraging competition and foreign investments instead of the current IRGC economic monopoly; willingness to make certain concessions in the nuclear negotiations; and emphasis on the supremacy of the principle of the sovereignty of the people over decisions by Supreme Leader (Ali Khamenei).

Rohani Challenges IRGC, Khamenei With Three Points

According to reports by the Iranian news agencies IRNA and Fars, Rohani stressed in the speech three points challenging the IRGC's and Khamenei's ideology:

1. IRGC revenue from its wide-ranging economic activity must be subject to taxes, and its monopoly on the country's economy ended. The private sector, including foreign investment in it, must be encouraged.

2. There must be a referendum on the regime, the economy, and society and culture (i.e. he underlined the principle that the sovereignty of the people must take precedence over decisions by the Supreme Leader)

3. There must be an option for certain Iranian concessions on uranium enrichment in the nuclear negotiations, because "the values of the regime are not linked to centrifuges" and because transparency towards the international community and a halt to "unneeded" enrichment are not concessions on values.

Rohani: "[My] Government Has No Fear"

Rohani also stressed that he is not frightened by the IRGC's threats, saying: "Every time they say that this or that organization [i.e. the IRGC] must pay taxes, [they] pitch a fit – but this government has no fear, and is continuing its work. The economy will not move ahead with the [IRGC] monopoly. The economy must be rescued from the monopoly and must become competitive."[1]

The same day, January 4, the pragmatic camp mouthpiece expressed its support for Rohani's referendum proposal. It said that the proposal could prompt negative responses from "certain circles" but that a situation in which decisions concerning the entire people were monopolized by a minority group (in the regime, i.e. the IRGC) must not be allowed.[2]

MEMRI Reports In The Series On The Power Struggle In The Iranian Leadership

It should be noted that in the past year, MEMRI has published a series of reports on the power struggle in the Iranian leadership between the pragmatic camp headed by Rafsanjani and Rohani and the ideological camp headed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to which the IRGC belongs. The Rafsanjani-Rohani pragmatic camp calls for the sovereignty of the people to take precedence over decisions by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The principle of the sovereignty of the people is significant in the pragmatic camp, and is frequently stressed by Rafsanjani and Rohani.

The following are the MEMRI reports on this power struggle:


[1] IRNA, Fars (Iran), January 4, 2015.

[2] (Iran), January 4, 2015.

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