February 10, 2014 | Quote
Insight: Nuclear Deal Heightens Tension Between Iran President and Guards
The article on Iran's semi-official Fars news agency appeared routine: the minister of roads and urban development said the ministry does not have a contract with construction firm Khatam al Anbia to complete a major highway heading north from Tehran.
Two things made it stand out: Khatam al Anbia is one of the biggest companies controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and company head Ebadollah Abdullahi had said just three days earlier that it did have the contract.
The December report was one of a series of signs that President Hassan Rouhani, who came into office last August, is using the political momentum from a thaw with the West over its nuclear programme to roll back the Guard's economic influence.
Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies and an expert on the Revolutionary Guards, said the government used two main arguments to cancel the contracts.
“The government can't afford the contracts, and the state is no longer subjected to the sanctions regime and there is no need state of emergency where IRGC participation in the projects is needed,” Alfoneh said by email.
“The public statements of the IRGC commanders against the United States and allies clearly indicate attempt of the IRGC commanders to sabotage Rouhani's opening to the West,” Alfoneh wrote.