Remarks by Mohammed al-Sulami, Head of International Institute for Iranian Studies, in a panel on the Iranian regime’s “IRGC and Meddling in the Region” in Paris, 29 June 2018, organized jointly by FEMO and APA.
First, let me say we may … but we don’t like them to be on our borders. So that is I think very important to look at things in the region. And I will take you back to the region and will come to … Let me say (terrorists) and sectarians are the elements through which the Iranian regime is (breeding). This is very clear. This is not my statement. This is we can find it in the Iranian constitution of revolution after 1979, we find it in Article 12, Article 154, 155, and many other articles. And those elements, those articles, the Iranian political system after 1979 built its own strategy toward the region and also to inside Iran, to the Iranian people themselves. That is why the Revolutionary Guard was created. And the Revolutionary Guard was created and we can talk about its domestic issues and abroad issues. Domestic issues we have … As we in the Middle East are suffering from Iranian Revolution Guard, Quds forces, Iranian people inside Iran are suffering from the (basijis – paramilitary force). We see them now in Iranian streets during the demonstrations trying to push against those people and to quash them. This is very important.
When you go outside we find two kinds of revolutionary guards. One is Iranian nationality fighters who are part of the Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces, led by Qassem Soleimani. And the other part is those militias created by the Revolutionary Guard, we are talking about … recently from India, Hezbollah, Houthis in Yemen, groups in eastern part of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and many other countries, all the way to Nigeria. So in those elements the Iranian regime built its strategy and that’s why exporting the revolution, the expansionist political system, in order to push back against this reality. On the ground we have to understand how they started those issues. I will not talk about history, we know our friends talk about Hezbollah is a state within a state, that is true. But in Iran too, actually, the Revolutionary Guard is a state within a state too. The Revolutionary Guard controls at least 40 percent of Iranian economy. They are controlling—Hezbollah controls Beirut Airport, Revolutionary Guard controls … airport in southern part of Tehran. There are similarities because the creator is one, which is the Iranian regime. They started with recruitments, the Shia recruitments, not all the Shias, part of the Shia community in the region. And then training, they provide them with training whether inside Iran or outside Iran. Inside Iran, we can talk about four main military bases. We are talking about … camp, for those were created to train the Shia groups, who … or follow Iranian political system. That’s why I’m talking again about a very small part of the Shia community and Shia minorities in the region.
So I know there is not enough time, but we have to emphasize important issue. We are talking about explaining the reality, talking about future, but I think it’s very important to give some solutions or suggest some ways through which we can push back against the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime is using those militias and claiming they are pushing against ISIS, Al Qaeda … and other groups. But that is not reality because the Iranian Revolutionary guard, the Iranian political system, started those issues before those groups appeared. I mean, when they talk about we are defending minorities, we have to control the world, we have to create the … abroad in different countries, so there is a strategy in order to push back against the strategy we have to create our strategy to confront or contain or push back against this strategy.
I think we have three or four main suggestions. One is legal confrontation through international and regional organizations. This is very important. We have to raise legal issues in different international organizations against the Iranian political system, especially also about the Revolutionary Guard. Second, economic confrontation. And we know the Revolutionary Guard has lots of international companies with different names sometimes or mostly with civilian names. You cannot identify them, you cannot know them because they don’t have history. So I think we need to make … of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards entities that we cannot do business with those groups. This is very difficult but I think it’s very important stage to begin to identify Iranian Revolutionary Guard entities and business. Third is military confrontation, and I’m talking here not against Iranians inside Iran, I’m talking about Iranian groups. Since we are fighting terrorist organizations, I think it’s a great mistake and very really mistake to differentiate between what’s a so-called Shia and Sunni groups. In my opinion, we have to have a definition, terrorist, any group that fits in this definition we have to fight against them. To be ISIS, to be Al Qaeda, to be … otherwise we will not get rid of these groups. This is important. Fourth suggestions, this is between the governments, intelligence cooperation and exchange of information about Iranian regime activities and Iranian Revolutionary Guard entities. If we don’t exchange ideas and information we cannot push back and get rid of Iranian Revolutionary Guard business. Those are I think the most important ideas. I have also thoughts I want to extend with you but I know there is no time, so I will stop here.