Rouhani to slash IRGC Budget, Empower Army

By Abbas Qaidaari, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

President Hassan Rouhani presented a general budget bill to parliament Jan. 17 — one day after the formal lifting of nuclear-related sanctions — for the current Iranian fiscal year, which began March 20. More than three months later after its introduction, the bill is still being reviewed, in part because of the Iranian New Year holidays, with members of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission taking a particularly close look at the details.

After the Management and Planning Organization released official budget documents for the current Iranian year in mid-March, shock spread through right-wing media outlets and publications. Many of them lashed out at Rouhani under headlines such as “The administration has decreased the defense budget.” Despite such assertions, was there actually a proposed decrease in the defense budget?

Based on the number of personnel employed by the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the army has the most troops, weapons and military installations at its disposal. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), possessing about one-third of Iran’s military power, is ranked second. Following them are the paramilitary Basij organization, the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces General Staff. Although the army’s capabilities far exceed those of the IRGC, the latter always receives almost two times as much funding as the former.

In the fiscal year that began March 20, 2013, the first five months of which took place during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s last year in office, Iran’s total defense budget was $6.24 billion. In the following fiscal year, beginning March 21, 2014, marking Rouhani’s first full year in office, the defense budget grew by $1.85 billion, bringing the total to more than $8 billion.

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