By Hamideh Taati
The Iranian regime has been deciding whether to pass the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) bills and regime officials are fighting about what to do. The situation has changed now that the United States has designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO).
Officials have been trying to portray the idea that the regime is tighter and more united than ever as it deals with the “enemy’s” actions, such as the maximum pressure campaign and the tough economic sanctions that are in force.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Officials cannot hide the bitter infighting that is dividing the regime more than ever.
Former Majlis member Mohammad Hassan Asafary has said that the recent designation of the IRGC has changed the whole dynamics of the FATF debate. He said that the FTO designation is something that other members of the international community and other major organisations will support. He said that the regime should be “vigilant” and suggested that the FATF is attempting to “put a siege on the country in all sectors”.
The mouthpiece of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and editor-in-chief of Keyhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, has also warned against joining the FATF, saying that passing the FATF bill would be “tantamount to inviting the U.S. to put more pressure on us”. He said: “When we see that the country’s officials say that by accepting a convention the country’s problems will be solved or after the JCPOA negotiations, some say there is room for negotiations in other sectors, one would think that they are giving coordinates to the enemy.”
On the other hand, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a former member of the IRGC and a member of the Expediency Discernment Council was once against joining the FATF. However, he has changed his mind, saying that the pressure being put on the Iranian regime by the United States and the FATF must be ignored because it is something that is not going to go away until it is properly addressed.
He has realised that the Trump administration is not going to ease pressure on Iran until its behaviour changes and he knows that the FATF is not going to just push the issues with Iran to the side without them being properly addressed. He said that ignoring the FATF bills, or rejecting them, would not be in the regime’s best interests. “If we step aside, we won’t be able to learn these new mechanisms and prevent the resulting threats, while the threat of these institutions won’t be eliminated by our lack of participation.”
Deputy chair of the national security and foreign relations committee in the Iranian parliament, Kamal Dehghani Firouzabadi, also expressed similar views, saying that being part of the FATF will at least allow Iran to “have an active presence in the international community and not distance ourselves from structures, and thus isolate ourselves”.
Whatever the Iranian regime decides to do, the Trump administration has made it very clear that it will continue to pressure Iran and, with its increased belligerence, organisations such as the FATF will have a hard time ignoring the Iran issue.