Monday, August 3, 2015

Iran on Steroids: What Happens When the Dollars Start Rolling In - Ryan Mauro

by Ryan Mauro

We've been dealing with the consequences of an Iranian regime that was poor. Get ready for an Iranian regime armed with an economic boom.

A march of the Iranian Basij militia (Photo: © Reuters)
A march of the Iranian Basij militia (Photo: © Reuters)

The Western powers’ nuclear deal with Iran will give the regime access to $100-150 billion in unfrozen funds and lifts the U.N. arms embargo within five years. In addition, Iran says it can accommodate $200-300 billion in foreign investment as sanctions are eased. The danger of this revenue can only be properly understood if you consider the cheap cost of Iran's terrorist operations.

The Israeli ambassador to the U.S. put the deal in perspective by comparing the economies of Iran and the United States: If Iran's Gross Domestic Product is $300 billion and it gets an influx of $150 billion in unfrozen assets, that's like the U.S. receiving $8 trillion.

There's been some criticism of these numbers, so let's take the best case scenario presented by the critics. Let's take the low number of $100 billion (not even including the $200-300 billion in foreign investment), a high estimate of Iranian GDP at $415 billion and put the U.S. economy at $18 trillion. That's still an equivalent influx of $4.3 trillion—again, not including the foreign investment and the wealth created by it.

Either way, that funding will go mostly into the hands of the terrorism-sponsoring, freedom-oppressing, "Death to America"-chanting Iranian regime. In short, it will go towards saving the dying Iranian Islamic Revolution.

About 80% of Iran’s economy is state-owned. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps alone owns at least one-third of the economy and is the third richest organization in the country, surpassed only by the regime-owned National Iranian Oil Company and Imam Reza Endowment.

The regime is so corrupt that a Reuters investigation found that Supreme Leader Khamenei owns a $95 billion empire. A detailed Arab newspaper reported in June that Khamenei’s family has billions more, with his son and possible successor, Mojtaba, having over $3 billion himself.

What will $100-150 billion in unfrozen funds and an additional $200-300 billion in foreign investment mean for the Iranian government's shopping list? Consider the numbers below:

$30 Billion: The Iranian Defense Budget
This estimate, calculated by calculated by U.S. President Obama,  appears to include undisclosed spending because "moderate" President Rouhani increased the budget by about one-third this year to an official amount of $10 billion. The regime is so radical that it increased its budget for violent jihad and theocratic oppression during times of economic hardship.

$6.5 Billion: Budget of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is the elite security force that keeps the Iranian regime in power by oppressing the population and sponsors terrorism around the world. It is responsible for providing advanced IEDs that killed at least 500 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Moderate" President Rouhani increased the IRGC's budget by almost half in 2015 at a time when Iran is strapped for money.

$6 Billion: Iran’s Yearly Donation to Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad
This figure was stated by the U.N.'s envoy to Syria. Other experts put it as high as $15 billion. Assad is a state sponsor of terrorism whose rule helps fuel Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. His determination to cling onto power has resulted in 320,000 dead and over 4 million refugees in a population of only 23 million since 2011.

$4-5 Billion: Estimated Spending By Iran on Terrorist Proxies
This figure was calculated by the Israeli Defense Forces' Chief of Staff, who emphasized that this support is limited only by the current "economic limitations" of Iran, which will be expanded under the deal.

$2 Billion: Iran's Annual Assistance to Extremist Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria
These militias have killed U.S. servicemen in the past and may target the 3,500 troops in Iraq now. The 140,000 members get $300 per month salary and $900 per month for arms and accommodations. The militias are brutal towards innocent Sunnis, indirectly assisting the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

$800 Million: Purchase Price of Five Advanced S-300 Air Defense Systems
Iran paid Russia for these systems that could severely complicate military action against the nuclear program. Russia has frozen the delivery of the system only due to extremely heavy Western pressure.  

$790 Million: Budget of the Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security
Described as "one of the largest and most dynamic intelligence agencies in the Middle East," this ministry has been sanctioned by the U.S. for supporting Al-Qaeda and other terrorists, aiding the terrorism-sponsoring dictatorship of Syria and abusing the human rights of Iranian citizens.

"Moderate" President Rouhani increased the ministry's budget by 40% this year, despite the regime's thin wallet. That shows where his priorities are.

$430 Million: Budget of the Brutal Basiji Internal Militia
This figure was the 2009-2010 budget of this militia that suppresses dissent and was largely responsible for crushing the Green Revolution of 2009. Each of the 11.2 million members is paid only around $40. Additional funding is likely acquired off-the-books through front organizations.

$100-200 Million: Yearly Support for Hezbollah
This is the estimated amount of support that Iran provides to the Lebanese terrorist group annually, according to a Pentagon report in 2010. Sanctions reportedly forced Iran to cut its support by 40% that year. Hezbollah’s financial hardship is so high that a Newsweek article in January was titled, "Is Hezbollah going broke?"

$580 Per Month: Monthly Salary Paid to Taliban Terrorists
In addition to providing arms and supplies, Iran also pays Taliban members. About 10,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan right now with a complete withdrawal scheduled for completion by the end of 2016.

$150 Per Month: Monthly Salary to Shiite Militiamen Targeting U.S. and British Troops by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps
The reported payments were made by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps to Shiite militiamen in Iraq when they were targeting U.S. and British servicemen. In 2007, Iran was paying members of one Shiite militia $300 a month to attack British troops.

Think about those expenditures and what has resulted from them. And then imagine what Iran will do with $100-150 billion in unfrozen assets, $200-300 billion in foreign investment and the wealth subsequently produced by that investment.

We've been dealing with the consequences of an Iranian regime that was poor. Get ready for an Iranian regime armed with an economic boom.

Ryan Mauro is’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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