In Iran, too: Follow the money

There is some old advice that if you want to know what is going on, follow the money. 

There isn't a lot that would qualify as legal evidence available in the news media, but there are hints here and there that money may indeed be playing a factor in the events unfolding in Iran.  

When the speculation arose as to why Khamenei was so quick to declare Ahmadinejad the victor,  I recalled this from July 2007 by Amir Taheri about how Ahmadinejad was about to sell off Iran's "family jewels", key businesses that had been state owned.  

No one knows how the businesses have been evaluated or who would be allowed to buy them. The suspicion is that highly profitable units would be transferred to elements from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and their bazaari partners organised in the so-called Islamic Coalition. The government's own banks will then provide the cash needed to buy the businesses.

In April, 2007, Taheri had also reported this in a story about Iran's labor unions.

Ahmadinejad is laying the banquet table for a big feast of plunder," said WOACC's spokesman. "The mullahs and Revolutionary Guardsmen who will buy the state-owned businesses, always with money borrowed from state-owned banks, plan to fire as many workers and strip as many assets as possible, taking their loot to Malaysia, Dubai and Austria."

Then there was this about Iran's Revolutionary Guards in the LA Times from around the same time.

The legendary people's army now has its hand in a broad and diverse variety of activities, such as dentistry and travel, and has become the dominant player in public construction projects across the country, say businessmen and economists in Tehran and analysts abroad.

Under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guard commander, the force also has extended its reach in the Cabinet: 14 of 21 members are former Guard commanders. Former officers also hold 80 of the 290 seats in the parliament and a host of local mayorships and local council seats. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, is a former Guardsman.

It is unclear whether the asset sales planned in 2007 actually occurred or whether the Revolutionary Guards may have just taken over the management of the state owned enterprises and have been running them for their own private benefit instead of for the public good.  This article from last year suggest the later may have happened. Whatever the situation, Ahmadinejad appears to have given the Revolutionary Guards unprecedented access to much of Iran's wealth.   It appears that his 2005 campaign slogan, a Farsi version of Yes we can ("It's doable and we can do it." is the Wikipedia translation) had one meaning for the voters to expected genuine reform and another meaning all together for Ahmadinejad's political allies.  

The question I want to know today is which Iranians in the power structure are furiously transferring assets out of the country?  Such activity or the existence of nest eggs sitting safely outside of the reach of a nation's judicial system is often an early indicator of how far hard-liners in tyrannical regimes will be willing to go to stay in power.  
There is some old advice that if you want to know what is going on, follow the money. 

There isn't a lot that would qualify as legal evidence available in the news media, but there are hints here and there that money may indeed be playing a factor in the events unfolding in Iran.  

When the speculation arose as to why Khamenei was so quick to declare Ahmadinejad the victor,  I recalled this from July 2007 by Amir Taheri about how Ahmadinejad was about to sell off Iran's "family jewels", key businesses that had been state owned.  

No one knows how the businesses have been evaluated or who would be allowed to buy them. The suspicion is that highly profitable units would be transferred to elements from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and their bazaari partners organised in the so-called Islamic Coalition. The government's own banks will then provide the cash needed to buy the businesses.

In April, 2007, Taheri had also reported this in a story about Iran's labor unions.

Ahmadinejad is laying the banquet table for a big feast of plunder," said WOACC's spokesman. "The mullahs and Revolutionary Guardsmen who will buy the state-owned businesses, always with money borrowed from state-owned banks, plan to fire as many workers and strip as many assets as possible, taking their loot to Malaysia, Dubai and Austria."

Then there was this about Iran's Revolutionary Guards in the LA Times from around the same time.

The legendary people's army now has its hand in a broad and diverse variety of activities, such as dentistry and travel, and has become the dominant player in public construction projects across the country, say businessmen and economists in Tehran and analysts abroad.

Under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guard commander, the force also has extended its reach in the Cabinet: 14 of 21 members are former Guard commanders. Former officers also hold 80 of the 290 seats in the parliament and a host of local mayorships and local council seats. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, is a former Guardsman.

It is unclear whether the asset sales planned in 2007 actually occurred or whether the Revolutionary Guards may have just taken over the management of the state owned enterprises and have been running them for their own private benefit instead of for the public good.  This article from last year suggest the later may have happened. Whatever the situation, Ahmadinejad appears to have given the Revolutionary Guards unprecedented access to much of Iran's wealth.   It appears that his 2005 campaign slogan, a Farsi version of Yes we can ("It's doable and we can do it." is the Wikipedia translation) had one meaning for the voters to expected genuine reform and another meaning all together for Ahmadinejad's political allies.  

The question I want to know today is which Iranians in the power structure are furiously transferring assets out of the country?  Such activity or the existence of nest eggs sitting safely outside of the reach of a nation's judicial system is often an early indicator of how far hard-liners in tyrannical regimes will be willing to go to stay in power.