The oligarchic rule of the Iranian regime has constructed a hell for the people from poverty, hunger, water shortage and drought, among calamities, Iran watchers say.
Mohammad Reza Badamchi one of the regime’s MPs, said in the parliament on April 4, 2020: “In these 40 years, two trillion dollars of foreign capital has entered the country, but what did we do? From the grief of the unemployed youth and, female-headed households, to the tragedy of the homeless people and the pain of homeless children and a thousand great sufferings of Iranians.”
Eghtesad-e-Pouya, a state media outlet, while expressing a corner of this hell and this dark souvenir for the Iranian people, wrote: Today, Iran is a society that, “For the money, a mother sells her newborn beloved baby for 3 million tomans so that her other children can eat meat and have food, or the mother or father push her child in front of a car so that she can receive a ransom and spend their daily expenses. We can talk about the workers and retirees that they are either below the poverty line, or absolute poverty, or just alive. During this time, we saw that the people of the cities ate every animal, from cats and crows, to not to be hungry.” (State-run daily, Eghtesad-e-Pouya, 21 April 2020)
Fuel and cargo porters, the result of class difference and discrimination
The 98 percent of class difference is the common pain of the Iranian people, but this distance is many times more than some parts of Iran, especially in the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and Kurdistan.
A sociologist said about this class distance and institutional discrimination in this regime: “You should compare the lives of the people in the deprived border areas of Iran with the lives of the people in the north of Tehran. They are about 150 to 200 years apart. This distance and discrimination create unfavorable conditions for the lives of border people. The root of this situation begins with discrimination, meaning that in society some [i.e., the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards] have privileges that others are deprived of.” (State-run daily Hamdeli, February 28, 2021)
In finding the root of the phenomenon of cargo and fuel porters, he said: “I believe that the existence of discrimination as well as economic poverty becomes what we call fuel or cargo porter, which has not existed in the history of Iran in this way.” (State-run daily Hamdeli, February 28, 2021)
Infographic of political-economic geography of Sistan and Baluchestan
Sistan and Baluchestan province with an area of about 187,502 square kilometers and 24 cities and 9,000 villages and hamlets, that 6500 villages are populated. Sistan and Baluchestan province with a population of 2.8 million people and with more than 1300 km of land border with Afghanistan and Pakistan and 310 km of sea border on the shores of the Oman Sea is in a very sensitive and important position.
The state-run news agency Mehr on January 25 wrote: “The province is located on the world metal and mineral belt, which extends from the Balkans to Pakistan, and has abundant reserves of chromite, copper, manganese, lead and zinc, tin, tungsten, gold. Sistan and Baluchestan also has more than 400,000 tons of garnet with 40 percent grade, 10 million tons of andalusite, 5 million tons of feldspar, 130,000 tons of silica and 43,000 tons of antimony, including capacities.”
“The port called Beheshti of Chabahar was established as a link between Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Afghanistan with a capacity of 83 million tons in 1992 and was finally registered with a $500 million expansion plan between Iran and India in January 2018.” (IRNA, March 30, 2019)
The IRGC’s fingers on this wealth
The entry of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Khatam al-Anbiya base which is one of the main bases of the IRGC and the economical artery of the regime’s economy into the mines and wealth of this province has been going on for many years and is still going on. Among the presence of the Revolutionary Guards in the implementation of projects without tenders can be seen throughout the province:
- Water transfer project from the Oman Sea to the east of the country since 2018 for the three provinces of South Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi and Sistan and Baluchestan. The main contractor for the project is Khatam base. The project is unfinished. (ILNA, August 27, 2020)
- Khatam Al-Anbiya Camp Announces Exploration of Copper, Manganese and Chromite Lead and Iron Mine in Sistan and Baluchestan Province. (Tasnim, July 29, 2020)
- Unsuccessful 4-year plan – In 2009, the implementation of the second line of Chah-Nimeh transfer to Zahedan with technical changes in pipe diameter and line capacity through foreign financing with the investment of Sino Hydro China in the amount of 120 million Euros was commissioned within three years. In 2010, by the order of the then president, foreign financing was removed from the agenda and the project was handed over to Khatam al-Anbia construction base with the same conditions. The implementation of the plan is still unfinished for various reasons.” (State-run daily Shahrvand, August 11, 2020)
- Arbaeen Sepah project, providing provincial funds to transfer and accommodate 30,000 Pakistani Arbaeen pilgrims from Mirjavah border to Sistan and Baluchestan.
While looting the rich lead, iron, manganese, chromite, and gold mines of Sistan and Baluchestan, the Revolutionary Guards stole water and brought a hell of poverty and misery to the deprived people of Sistan and Baluchestan, now through the Razzaq project, seeks full control of fuel transfers to Pakistan. According to this plan, cards will be issued to border residents up to a radius of 25 kilometers.
According to this plan, the IRGC issued an authorized traffic card for every 5 families, for which they must pay 5 million tomans. Each of these families, in turn, can sell a cargo containing 3,000 liters of fuel only once a day, on the condition that after selling the fuel, they hand over the received currency to the Revolutionary Guards and receive a daily fee in return.
When the people gathered and protested in front of the Revolutionary Guards checkpoint on February 22, 2021, they were brutally attacked by them, and several of them were killed and wounded.
The state-run newspaper Shargh wrote on March 1, 2021 in the investigation of the Saravan massacre: “The events of Monday, February 22, in Saravan city showed other dimensions of the issue of fuel smuggling. A distinction must be made between fuel smuggling and fuel porters. The first is a sign of corruption and inefficiency at the national level and fuel porting is a sign of poverty and hard work of some for bread.
“If at least 15 million liters of fuel are smuggled across the eastern borders a day, that’s the equivalent of more than $6 billion a year, much of which goes into the pockets of some smugglers and not the noble people of the border, without registering and accounting.”
Sources of fuel smuggling
In the summer of 2014, the National Oil Company announced that it was asking the police for $170 million of the sale of the Ministry of Oil’s oil shipments.
“The demand is based on the delivery of an oil shipment worth $185.24 million, which Brigadier General Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the then commander of the police force, refused to repay as his debt to the state treasury.” (State-run news agency Alef, September 2018)
The report of the budget program commission of the parliament on April 15, 2018 states: “Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam, the commander of the police force, received two oil shipments worth $240 million from Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi and did not deposit $180 million of this amount into the treasury. Also, the police owe more than 600 billion tomans to the National Oil Company for a second shipment that was delivered in 2013.”
A government researcher investigating the source of fuel smuggling in Balochistan wrote: “Is it possible not to manage fuel smuggling inside the country and manage fuel smuggling by organizing the border villagers? Is it possible to see thousands of smuggled fuel tankers and vans entering the area and not doing anything to manage it! But at the same time, did you expect that it would be possible to manage the outflow of fuel from the country by managing the border people? Note that the main issue is the main sources of fuel smuggling at the national level, not fuel porting at the local level.” (State-run daily Shargh, March 1, 2021)
From wood smuggling to currency smuggling
State-run Arman newspaper on March 2, 2021 in an article entitled, “From the fuel porters in the East to the currency smugglers in the center”, wrote:
In the north of the country, with the problem of ‘wood smuggling’, and with the increase, the base for deforestation has been provided. In the south, we are facing the problem of ‘soil-smuggling’ that Iranian soil is the basis for the construction of artificial islands in Arab countries. In the east, we have been facing the problem of ‘fuel porting’ for many years. In the west of the country, we are facing the problem of cargo porters (Kolbar), and in the center of the country, there is also the problem of ‘currency smuggling’, and the embezzlers are embezzling and stealing from people’s pockets.”
Mudbrick homes built on a land of treasure and wealth
Sistan and Baluchestan carries the scourge of poverty, deprivation, and unemployment from the two regimes of the Shah and the mullahs. And the huts in which people live are built on a treasure and wealth.
The head of the government organization Agricultural Jihad in Sistan and Baluchestan said: “Drought caused 726 billion tomans of damage to farmers and ranchers in Sistan region, including Zabol, Zahak, Helmand, Nimroz and Hamoon cities in the 2017-18. (IRNA, March 31, 2019)
And Asr-e-Iran daily on August 17, 2020 wrote: “Also, according to official statistics, about forty percent of the villages of Sistan and Baluchestan are deprived of access to drinking water and active water supply networks, and their water needs are met through unsanitary water in the hotspots and rivers adjacent to the village.”
The ‘army’ of starving people is a time bomb ready to explode
The Saravan protests in continuation of the November 2019 protests showed that an accumulation of the volcano of an army of 60 million starving and marginalized people is lurking under the skin of all Iranian cities. Society, like a ‘ticking timebomb,’ is waiting for a spark to explode.
The state-run daily Jahan-e-Sanat, on February 28, 2021 in fear of the starving people’s protests wrote: “The scope of the consequences of this bomb will not know friend or foe. If as a result of the negligence of the country’s rulers and underestimating this potential and terrible danger and their negligence in reducing the class gap in society, this time bomb explodes, nothing will be left of us.”