Iranian Qods Force Lists Entities as Private to Avoid International Sanctions

Тhe Iranian Qods force, a more militant wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that was sanctioned by the U.S. for terrorism, has been operating one of its entities as a private company, according to a study by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

The study found that Mahan Air Corporation has had extensive relationships with the Iranian Regime since its first days- even using government facilities to launch and expand its company. It is not merely working with the IRGC and the Qods but it fully owned and operated by them, Iran Focus reports.

“The Mahan Corporation was established shortly after the formation of the Qods Force as a centralized force and a foreign organ of the IRGC. This does not appear to be a coincidence, given the background of some of the company’s highest officials. Most of the main members of the Mahan Company have been born in Kerman and most are members of the IRGC, specifically commanders of the Qods Force. Their relationships precede Mahan’s founding,” the report reads.

Iranian airline companies (like Iran Air, Mahan Air Company, Meraj and Caspian Airlines) have been subjected to international sanctions over the years for links to terrorism. They play an important role in Iran’s interference in the countries of the region, including the transfer of personnel and logistics for the IRGC and proxy militias. The IRGC and particularly its extra-territorial branch the Quds Force use these airlines to transfer IRGC commanders and supplies to those proxies.

The Regime hopes that by portraying Mahan Air Corporation (and many others) as a private company, it can avoid the sanctions and still use them to export terrorism, war, and fundamentalism across the Middle East.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Mahan Air three times since 2011 for shipping arms to the Syrian government, ferrying members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and providing transport for the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

On October 12, 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of Mahan Air pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 for providing financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).

“Mahan Air provides transportation, funds transfers and personnel travel services to the IRGC-QF. Mahan Air’s close coordination with the IRGC-QF – secretly ferrying operatives, weapons, and funds on its flights – reveals yet another facet of the IRGC’s extensive infiltration of Iran’s commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism,” the Department of Treasury stressed.

Of course, Iran barely has a private sector anymore. The Regime controls almost everything in the country, making it hard to separate out sanctions on the Regime and sanctions on the whole country.

“It has become clearer now that a large part of the Iranian economy is in the hands of the IRGC and its affiliated institutions, and the benefits of economic relations with this regime go directly to the IRGC and serve the domestic repression and the export of terrorism and fundamentalism and warfare in the region and in the world,” the report reads.

The report made some recommendations to prevent this and according to them, the Iranian Regime and all its subsidiaries must be denied access to the global banking system for their role in terrorist activity, Mahan Air Corporation, and its affiliates must be subject to comprehensive international sanctions in order to stop the export of arms and troops to war zones and the Iranian Regime and its proxy groups must be expelled from the Middle East.

In discussing sanctions on the Iranian regime, it is sometimes argued that separating and distinguishing private sector institutions from government bodies is necessary. However, it is almost impossible to follow through on this seemingly sensible advice, given the policies and functions of the Iranian regime.

The regime gave the Revolutionary Guards control over a large part of the country during the last quarter of a century and especially in the last 15 years, under the guise of “privatization”.

At present, the IRGC dominates over 50 percent of Iran’s gross domestic product, under the umbrella of various companies and some foundations wholly under the control of Supreme Leader Khamenei, such as the Execution of Imam Khamenei’s Order (EIKO). In November 2013, a Reuters report estimated EIKO’s assets at $95 billion, which some experts assessed as a conservative estimate.