A budget of 161,155,600,000,000 tomans ($6.5 billion) has been allocated in the budget bill of 2021-2022 to military, security and law enforcement institutions. This is one-fifth of the total public budget proposed by Iran’s government for next year. The sum is equal to two million tomans per capita in defence and security spending.
Part of these funds will be spent on future suppressions of the Iranian people's protests against the current political, economic, and social situation. But how much? No one knows.
All for the Corps; the Corps for only one
Approximately a third of Iran's total military and security budget is allocated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran's most effective military and security institution, which also has great influence in the country’s politics and economic affairs.
This year, the IRGC’s total budget will reach 56 trillion tomans ($2.3 billion), about three times more than the total budget of Iran’s army, one and a half times the total budget of the police force, roughly 20 times the total budget of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the Armed Forces and about four trillion tomans more than the social security budget of the Armed Forces uses to pay military pensions.
In the 2021-2022 budget, the IRGC's share has increased significantly, both in relation to the military budget and to the total general budget. Last year, the total allocation value for the IRGC and Basij was less than 34 trillion tomans ($1.4 billion). The IRGC's budget increase next year is about 65 percent, while the total inflation of the government's general budget is about 55 percent.
Fifty-six trillion tomans in the government’s general budget is not the only source of income for the IRGC. The figure may be half or even just a fifth of the IRGC's total financial resources for 2021-2022 to fund its political and military programs both domestically and abroad.
Apart from the general budget, the IRGC also has access to large financial assets from unknown accounts and sources. According to estimates, the added value of the activities of the Khatam al-Anbya construction conglomerate, owned by the IRGC, amounts to trillions of tomans.
In addition, the IRGC's Cooperative Foundation and its affiliated byzantine web of organizations have huge revenues in the areas of telecommunications and finance that are never discussed in public. No one knows exactly to which treasury the IRGC's economic revenues are paid and how much of it is spent on military or political initiatives.
Dividing the 56 trillion tomans of the IRGC’s main budget by Iran’s population of 84 million people shows that, for every Iranian next year, 675,000 tomans will be transferred to the IRGC’s accounts.
Assuming that the IRGC secretly withdraws the same amount from national sources, the share for each Iranian reaches about 1.35 million tomans. A family of three is, under this logic, indirectly paying four million tomans of their national salary to the IRGC without knowing how this money is spent.
Even the public budget has no accurate and clear information about the IRGC's performance. In next year's budget, 42 items are allocated to the IRGC.
One of the largest of these rows is allocated to the the IRGC Joint Staff. The credit for this item is set at 38.564 trillion tomans. After this comes 10 trillion tomans for the Khatam Al-Anbya construction budget, which has been repeated in the annual budgets with the same figure for many years.
The Basij paramilitary organization is next with an allocation of 2.121 trillion tomans; this is not less than the whole IRGC, in terms of structural complexity. Imam Hussein University, Baqiyatollah University of Medical Sciences and Imam Hassan Officer University are other rows with allocations for relatively clear purposes. The total credits of these three universities together are 584 billion tomans. One can guess which organizations represent the Supreme Leader, the IRGC and the IRGC Intelligence Organization. The budget of these three influential institutions, on paper, is 372 billion tomans.
A budget of 8.5 trillion tomans is allocated to the Ghasem Soleimani Cultural Foundation – which has receive a great deal of attention this year after Soleimani’s death nearly a year ago in a US air strike in Baghdad.
Beyond these details there is little information about the rest of the IRGC budget.
More than 30 budget rows with the names of killed IRGC commanders in different periods have also been included with a total value of about 4.3 trillion tomans.
Shahid Bagheri Project, Nour Rabi Project, Velayat Project, Shahid Atrienejad Project, Shahid Soleimani Project - Progress and Development of Villages, Yazdanashenas Martyr Project - Jihad Construction Headquarters, Nour Hedayat Project, Martyr Shoushtari Project, Martyr Ebrahimi Project, Martyr Hajihatam Project - Maishat, Martyr Varamini Project - Sarollah Headquarters, Ghaemin Organization, Imam Hussein Project, Martyr Ahmadi Roshan Project, Martyr Eskandari Project, Martyr Chamran Project, Martyr Mirshaki Project, Saberin Martyrs Project, Martyr Fahmideh Project - Basij Organization, Arbaeen Project, Nasim Rahmat Project, Tehran Tehrani Moghaddam Development Projects , Martyr Project Roudaki , Martyr Kazemi Project, Martyr Bronsi Project, Martyr Rashadi Project, Martyr Ali Hashemi - Security of Khuzestan Project, Jihad Project - Aerospace Command, Martyr Pourjafari Project, Martyr Zamaninia Project, and Martyr Yazdani Project.
Each of these names is the title of a budget row that is worth between a billion and 890 billion tomans. Many of these titles have no description; for example, it is not known what the 890 billion tomans dedicated to Shahid Bagheri Project are for, but given the name, is the money going to be spent on military intelligence? And if so then why not allocate the funds to the Intelligence Department?
Some budget rows have descriptions that probably do indicate the scope of the project for which the budget is intended. For example, in front of the name of the Shahid Soleimani Project, the budget states "Progress and development of rural areas" with a budget of 359 billion tomans. It is not clear, despite the variety of government organizations whose legal duty is the development of rural areas, why the IRGC should receive funding for this work while it already has sufficient financial resources to do so. The voluntary activities of large organizations may make sense in this regard; but why should a budget of 359 billion tomans be given to an organization whose budget is not audited from public sources?
Based on the mandate of "strengthening the security force,” which is written in front of the row for Shahid Ebrahimi's Project, it can be guessed that the 120 billion tomans allocated to this project is related to security affairs.
In another row, entitled Project of Martyr Ali Hashemi, the description "Khuzestan Security" is given. The value of this row is only two billion tomans, which does not seem much compared to other projects, but it is not clear exactly why in the annual budget, apart from the total public and provincial budget, two billion tomans are given separately to the IRGC for the security of Khuzestan.
The answers to these and many other questions are unknown. What is certain is that a large part of next year's budget sources, which can be said to have been prepared in the most critical economic conditions of contemporary history, are in the group of military and security institutions, and specifically, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC is an organization that, despite openly or secretly benefitting from tens of thousands of billions of tomans of national resources, is unaccountable except to one person; namely, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.