The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – the Iranian regime’s Gestapo, runs over 70% of the country’s economy, pays no tax and is answerable only to the Supreme Leader, the elderly and psychotic Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The corruption of the IRGC is legendary. As Iran’s economy crumbles and the rial plummets to new lows, some of the top IRGC commanders are pocketing billions. The most recent case which has caused outrage amongst the ordinary people of Iran, involves Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani. The 69-year-old is a close friend and adviser to Khamenei. He was head of the IRGC Navy before being appointed Defense Minister in 1997. His meteoric career took him from there to become secretary of the Supreme National Security Council until 2023. He is now a member of the elite 34-man Expediency Discernment Council, hand-picked to advise the Supreme Leader.

Shamkhani is one of the top IRGC figures dubbed as ‘sanctions profiteers’ by the impoverished public. Their calculating manipulation of sanction-busting trade has enabled them to embezzle vast amounts of money. As they are Khamenei’s closest advisers, they ensure that nothing is done to alleviate the sanctions. Indeed, their activities have often led to sanctions being intensified, creating more wealth for the IRGC and more hunger and poverty for the Iranian people. But now Shamkhani has been exposed publicly for his venal dishonesty. News of the money spent by the Rear Admiral on his daughter’s wedding has been leaked to the Iranian media, undoubtedly by rival factions. According to a report on April 20th in Faraz Media, a multi-platform media organization based in London, Shamkhani hired the most expensive hotel in Tehran for his daughter’s wedding. Apparently, he paid the Espinas International Hotel 13.65 trillion rials, equivalent to around $22,000 at the current exchange rate, to rent the venue. The wage for a hardworking Iranian laborer is around 70 million rials, so Shamkhani has paid the equivalent of 195 months of a laborer’s salary, simply for a one-night wedding reception.

While this sum will be small change for Shamkhani, it has caused a scandal in Iran. The humiliating exposé has followed an earlier revelation that the Rear Admiral had paid $10,000 for his son’s university education in Lebanon. Shamkhani’s son apparently sports a designer watch that costs as much as an average soldier earns in four years. It is said that Shamkhani effectively controls one of the regime’s biggest and most profitable shipping companies. He is also known to have been involved in vastly profitable construction projects in Tehran and has built a palatial villa for his family in the exclusive city of Lavasan, on the slopes of the Alborz mountains, 11 kilometres northeast of Tehran. He employs his son-in-law - Mirmohammad Ali, as a contractor building luxury villas in Lavasan, each of which can be sold for billions of rials. 

Poverty is a significant issue in Iran, with a sizable portion of the population living below the international poverty line. Many Iranians struggle to meet their basic needs, such as food, housing, and healthcare. The gap between the rich and poor has widened over the years, exacerbating social disparities and leading to overall discontent among the population. There are strikes and protests on a daily basis in towns and cities across Iran. Various factors have contributed to the collapse of the Iranian economy, including economic mismanagement, international sanctions, high inflation rates, lack of job opportunities, and income inequality. However, it is well known that the institutionalized corruption of the IRGC and the mullahs has been a significant factor, undermining trust in governance, breeding inequality, hampering economic growth, and leading to widespread social unrest.

Infighting between the warring factions within the IRGC was exposed to the public earlier this year, when news was leaked that a group of top commanders were said to have met with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in January, tabling wide-ranging complaints about the force’s corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence. Apparently Shamkhani was particularly named and shamed in the meeting. Following the nationwide uprising that was triggered by the death in custody of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, the mullahs are terrified of another mass protest that could sweep them from power. Their response has been to intensify repression and to institute a wave of executions in a bid to quell dissent.

But the Iranian people have lost their fear of the tyrannical regime. Resistance Units are burgeoning across Iran, often led by courageous women chanting “Women, resistance, freedom”. For forty-five years the Iranian regime has sponsored violent abduction, hostage taking, kidnapping, blackmail, piracy, assassination, warmongering and oppression. As a gangster regime, the theocratic dictatorship has no equal. The IRGC and its extra-territorial Quds Force is behind the Yemen-based Houthi drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the attacks by Tehran's proxies on British and American military bases in the region. There is also massive discontent at the regime’s rampant financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Indeed, it is now accepted that the mullahs planned, financed and coordinated the catastrophic 7th October Hamas massacre in Israel, leading to the ongoing war in Gaza. 

The mullahs have ploughed men and resources into proxy wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. They have directed extremist operations throughout the Middle East and further afield, even sending registered diplomats on terror missions. Now they are supplying kamikaze drones and missiles to Russia for use in their illegal war in Ukraine. While the people of Iran starve, the regime continues to plough money and resources into the development of a nuclear weapon and the ballistic missiles capable of launching it. Their outrageous drone and ballistic missile attack on Israel last month was an ominous sign that once equipped with a nuclear warhead, the theocratic regime will be a menacing danger to world peace. 

The time for appeasement has ended. The EU must follow America’s example and blacklist the IRGC. We must close Iran’s embassies, which they use as terrorist hubs and send their diplomats back to Tehran. It is time for the civilized world to back the Iranian people and their right to overthrow this despotic and repressive regime.