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Rouhani Urges Iran’s Armed Forces to Steer Clear from Politics, Economics | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian soldiers march during a military parade marking National Army Day in Tehran, Iran, April 17, 2016. (Reuters)

London – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani reiterated in his national army day speech the demand for armed forces to steer clear from the game of politics. Rouhani went on to defend Iran’s military and armament program, while highlighting it being for defense purposes solely.

Every year, Iran’s armed forces hold parades across the country to mark Army Day. In a ceremony in Tehran, broadcast live on state television, trucks carrying missiles drove past a podium where Rouhani and military commanders were standing. Iran showed off its new S-300 air defense missile system Soldiers also marched passed the podium and fighter jets and bombers took part in an air show.

“The power of our armed forces is not aimed at any of our neighbors … Its purpose is to defend Islamic Iran and act as an active deterrent,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

On the other hand, conservative presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi blasted Rouhani’s presidential campaign, asking it to limit itself to a “moral” standard.

Rouhani praised the people’s support of the armed forces and cited the words of Iran’s Supreme Leaders Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei that “as long as military forces remain impartial to politics, the people’s support will only make them stronger.”

“The army and armed forces have, for 30 years, followed recommendations and not interfered, that is important,” Rouhani said.

Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s elitist Revolutionary Guard, said last March that none of the guards are permitted involvement in partisan campaigning. Jafari’s remarks came a week after Rouhani called in February for protesting the involvement of armed forces in the upcoming elections, should it happen.

Rouhani warned against military preoccupation with what he called “economic concerns”, warning that it could compromise the military’s chief goals.

The Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) is Iran’s strongest economic challenge, according to Tehran-based reports. The IRGC and its affiliates control about 40 percent of the Iranian economy, including energy and oil drilling.

Rouhani, taking advantage of the occasion, appealed to the IRGC to exclusively abide to the role of the army in Iran. “The constitution explicitly mandates the army to maintain sovereignty, independence and order in Iran,” he said.

Discrediting rumors on rising differences between the Tehran-controlled state army and the Khamenei-serving Revolutionary Guard, Rouhani said that the two security bodies’ cooperation is praiseworthy.

Since the rise of the Revolutionary Guards as a military force in Iran, the army has been marginalized and diminished. According to the Iranian constitution, the Revolutionary Guard is intended to protect the country’s Islamic system and only takes orders from the country’s top cleric, Khamenei, and not the president.

Referring to the strengthening of Iran’s arsenal, Rouhani said that the military is “ready today” more than ever to face any rising threats.