Law of unintended consequences: tougher Iran sanctions may help Revolutionary Guard

By Incorrect Author 12 October 2009

Experts on Iran warn that tougher sanctions against the country over its nuclear programme might actually strengthen its hard-line president and the Revolutionary Guard. The latter is already into virtually every part of Iran's economy, even the black market, and further isolation could push more of the economy into the Revolutionary Guard’s hands. “A lot of companies that have invested in the economy are linked to the Revolutionary Guard. You can make the argument that if you scare away foreign investors, you are strengthening the Guard,” says Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation. The Revolutionary Guard controls Iran's missile programme and has its own ground, naval and air units. US and European countries warn of tougher sanctions if negotiations do not bring progress. Sanctions would likely hurt the Revolutionary Guard's businesses, but could also fuel the Guard’s further expansion into the economy. With Iran’s privatisation campaign, Guard-linked companies have won major no-bid government contracts under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, himself a Guard alum.