In 2018, The Iranian government spent $6.4 billion on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Quds Forces (IRGC-QF), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that supports Hezbollah, Hamas, and other foreign terror groups, and also plots attacks in Europe.
Iran’s economy shrank nearly 5 percent between March 2018 and March 2019, while inflation jumped from 23 to 35 percent in the same period, making it harder for ordinary Iranians to make ends meet. The cost of vegetables, for example, shot up 155 percent in April compared to the previous year, and meat prices went up 117 percent, according to the Statistical Center of Iran. Yet Iran hasn’t stopped exporting terror.
“This regime, unlike most regimes in the world, uses oil revenue to support terrorism and to fund terrorist organizations and to fund its missile program,” U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said in August.
The same month, the U.S. imposed sanctions on four men for helping finance the IRGC-QF to fill the coffers of Hamas. “These facilitators funneled tens of millions of dollars from Iran’s Qods Force through Hezbollah in Lebanon to HAMAS for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip,” Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said.
In recent years, many countries have disrupted IRGC-QF’s terror plots, including Bahrain, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Germany, Kenya, and Turkey. The regime has funneled at least $16 billion since 2012 to the Assad regime and other proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
More spent on repressing Iranian people
Despite the shrinking economy, the regime is upping spending on repression. Its 2019-2020 draft budget gives Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, which monitors and represses Iranians, a 32 percent increase, reports the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank.
In 2018, the regime also increased funding by a whopping 84 percent for its Law Enforcement Force that polices Iranians, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank in London. The boost in domestic security follows protests that faulted the regime’s economic mismanagement and IRGC-QF funding.
Saeid Golkar, a Middle East expert and political science professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said increasing domestic security forces during hard times is standard procedure for oppressive regimes that only look out for themselves.
“Ordinary people haven’t been important, aren’t important, and won’t be important for the Islamic Republic,” Golkar said. “Focusing on the military — that’s the first policy they have to follow, because they need [the military] to suppress the people.”