The Iranian government’s crises such as adopting the bill related to the Financial Action Task Force (on money laundering), also known as the FATF, worsen as the social tensions in Iran continue to grow, especially after the nationwide Iran protests in mid-November. The FATF crisis has created a new series of infighting among Iran’s rival factions.
The faction close to the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, tries to cling to the western governments via ratifying the FATF to prolong the regime’s life. Meanwhile the rival faction close to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, insists on not signing the FATF bills and calls this self-sanctioning or rather ‘suicide’. These infightings show the state’s desperation and deadlock.
Some reactions from the two ruling factions
Abdol-Reza Hashemzai, a member of the so-called Hope faction:
“After 40 years of experience by having various responsibilities in the Islamic state, as a person who cares about the national interests, I am confused to hear the views of the opponents of joining the FATF and I do not know what they are looking for.” (Khabar Foori website, 23 December 2019)
Youssef Mawlai, Professor of International Law, in an interview with the state-run Hamdeli daily over the national FATF approval:
“The central bank is the institution that is specialized and has the expertise in recognizing how necessary joining the FATF is.”
Ali Majedi, former Iranian ambassador to Germany:
“Even our allies such as Turkey and China, which have limited trade relations with Iran, will continue to refrain from trade with us if we do not join the FATF.
Those opposing the FATF, who in fact opposed the 2015 nuclear deal, argue that if Iran joins the FATF, it sanctions its military institutions, such as the Ministry of Defense, the Khatam Al-Anbiya base, and so on. The FATF’s opponents view the adoption of the bills, especially Palermo bill, as a threat to our continuous aid to organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Faction close to Khamenei
State run newspaper Sharq wrote on 27 June 2019 about the speech of Sadeq Amoli Larijani, Chairman of the State Expediency Discernment Council:
“Western bills and agreements are only to serve the western governments’ interest and are excuses for further abandoning their commitments. Some bills also include important security issues, so we should take the warnings of those dignified people with security expertise over these issues. Making the information of the entire banking system and transactions public won’t serve the public’s interest of the country.”
Ahmad Jannati, Chairman of the Assembly of Experts recently on 10 September 2019 said at the Friday prayer ceremony:
“I don’t know how they dared to secretly sign a document called FATF. They want to give them our financial and transactions information under the pretext of combating money laundering. They want us to sanction ourselves. This is nothing but self-sanctioning.”
Hussein Mozaffar, member of the Expediency Discernment Council in an interview with state-run Khabaronline news agency on 7 December 2019:
“If the FATF is rejected by the State’s Expediency Council, we will accept the cost.”
Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam member of the Expediency Discernment Council said to state-run Khabaronline news agency on 4 December 2019:
“If we accept the FATF, the US can easily disclose our business and trade. The pressure of European countries and the implementation of a special financial channel conditioned to the FATF approval will be rejected by the members of the State’s Expediency Council.”
According to the report of IRNA on 21 December 2019, Ahmad Tavakoli member of the Expediency Discernment Council twitted:
“I was skeptical about accepting the FATF, but Europe’s outrageous statement and its humiliating conditions for trading with Iran at INSTEX showed that they would continue their arrogance if we don’t hold our ground.”
This Report added a comment of Said Jalili member of the Expediency Discernment Council:
“Those who are in favor of joining Palermo and CFT say we want to reduce [the U.S.] excuses! Well this is the path you’ve taken once! What is the guarantee?!”