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Iran’s Army of Starving People Like a Volcano Waiting To Explode

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)

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Toiling for Bread in Sistan and Baluchistan

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.”

Iran: Government’s $12-Billion Debt to Social Security Organization

In Iran, more than 40 million people are covered by insurance provided by the Social Security Organization. In low-cost medical cases, these insurances aid the people. According to Iranian media, President Hassan Rouhani’s government has a three-quadrillion-rial [$12 billion] debt to this organization, severely affecting the life and livelihood of over a half of Iran’s population.

In the late 2010s, then-Members of Parliament (Majlis) unveiled a $500-million embezzlement case in the Social Security Organization during political rivalries. Given the concerns over public implications and all factions’ involvement in the scandal, the issue was concealed by influential officials.

At the time, the Majlis presidium sabotaged the investigating process to hide high-ranking officials’ theft from millions of people affiliated with the organization. “Money of 30 million of social security retirees have been turned into family companies, and all of the small and great contracts have been allocated to officials’ children [Aghazadeh] and relatives,” said then-MP from Maku and Chaldoran jurisdictions Soleiman Jafarzadeh on July 4, 2017.

Social Security, Administrations’ Backyard

“Subsidiary companies and subordinates of the Social Security Organization were likely a backyard for different parties and factions in previous and current administrations,” Jafarzadeh added.

This method was followed within the next administrations while the organization was directly responsible for millions of Iranian citizens’ livelihood. However, until the early 2020s, these profiteering policies continued their destructive effects on the organization’s affiliated people.

Currently, more than 40 million of Iran’s 85-million population are under the Social Security Organization cover. Since the beginning of Hassan Rouhani’s Presidency, the government’s debts to the organization have constantly soared every year.

“Now, the [Rouhani] government has a three-quadrillion-rial [$12 billion] debt to the Social Security Organization,” said MP Rahim Zare, the Spokesperson of Budget Integration Commission, on February 27.

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Iran’s Officials Admit to Playing With the Exchange Rate To Run Their Shattered Economy

However, this is not the whole story. The coronavirus outbreak, the government’s failure to contain the pandemic, and the socioeconomic consequences added insult to injury for millions of retirees, pensioners, and welfare recipients affiliated with this organization.

In recent months, not a week goes by without countrywide rallies by retirees and pensioners in Iran. The continuation of these protests displays that these underprivileged people can no longer tolerate hardship and misery, which are direct outcomes of the ruling system’s corruption, nepotism, and economic failures.

The government’s refusal to adjust retirees’ pensions according to the current rate of inflation and provide appropriate insurance services are among pensioners’ newest dilemmas. However, given the administrations’ view of this organization as a backyard, retirees and welfare recipients forecast a bleak future.

Distinction Between Salaries and Inflation

The government’s debt to the Social Security Organization has rendered a dramatic distinction between retirees’ pensions and the rampant inflation rate. This dilemma is not limited to retirees alone but also has brought enormous difficulties to working families.

According to official statistics, 90 percent of Iran’s working families struggle with economic problems, and many of them face poor nutrition. In other words, they are scrambling to remain alive. According to experts, working families’ food expenditures—aside from additional essential costs—reach 60-80 million rials [$240-320] per month, according to experts.

However, the tripartite committee, including workers’ representatives, employers, and the government, estimated the food basket by 6.895 million rials [$275.80] as a cornerstone for wage talks at the Supreme Labor Assembly. This is while there is a drastic difference between workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions.

Furthermore, the Social Security Organization is one of the secret entities, and its non-transparency has intensified the people’s concerns. This organization is considered one of the state-run companies. However, there are no rules to hold such institutions accountable. This issue gives the green light to administrations to plunder and exploit the assets of people who are affiliated with the organization.

Despite experts’ suggestions for resolving the crisis between the Social Security Organization and retirees and pensioners, the government did not signal enthusiasm to ease welfare recipients’ dilemmas. In fact, the government itself is the main barrier to resolving the crisis due to its massive privileges through its financial resources.

“According to the Vice-President’s order, [the government] had withdrawn some money of the Social Security Organization’s Investment Company and granted it to the Sports and Youths Ministry to pay the National Soccer Team’s coach and compensate for its debts,” on January 26.

In such circumstances, retirees, pensioners, and impoverished people who benefit from social security insurances see no path to gain their inherent rights but following up their demands through protests. In this context, on February 28, retirees once again rallied in 26 cities across the country, blaming officials for failing to meet their grievances.

“Only by taking to the streets, will we get our rights,” “Our enemy is right here, they lie that it’s America,” and “We live in poverty, while you [officials] are well off,” protesters chanted in front of the Social Security Organization’s representations and Provincial Governorates. The February 28 rally was the retirees’ sixth countrywide protest in recent weeks against poverty, discrimination, and indifference about people’s hardship, which are the ominous gifts of the Islamic Republic’s 42-year history.

Iran, Pouring Water in the Broken Jug of the JCPOA

The Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and government officials think that our world is following static rules. They seem to believe that the parameters of foreign policy and balance of power are still like 2015, and that they can resort to the failed policy of appeasement, stick to uranium enrichment, and rely on it to ransom the world.

This miscalculation forced them to return to nuclear war after the presidential change in the United States, and to reduce their commitments to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) one after another. At first, they thought that with these actions, Europe would beg and ask them to hold back so that the US could lift sanctions.

Khamenei resumed a series of missile strikes by using his militants in Iraq to blackmail the US in addition to relinquishing Tehran’s commitments to the JCPOA. These two actions were complementary to act as a lever of pressure to push back the opponent. Khamenei seemed to have found the time for the game to achieve the ultimate goal of lifting sanctions without compromising regional and regional missiles.

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Iran and the Gordian Knot of the JCPOA

In this regard, without a precise calculation, he trapped himself in a self-imposed deadline to exit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol. Of course, while approaching the peak of this deadline, when he realized that none of the other countries paid any attention to it, he had to accept an in-between solution and accept a three-month agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

With the US attack on the positions of the regime-affiliated militias in Syria, it became clear that all of Khamenei’s dreams so far have are no realized. He thought that he can ignore this statement of Heraclitus, one of the Greek philosophers of the pre-Socratic period, who had said:

“You cannot step into a river twice. Because when we cross it a second time, we are neither the previous man nor that river the former river.”

But the hopeless supreme leader, embarrassed, and scared, stepped in the JCPOA river, but did not find himself in the same river as of in 2015. A river that flowed with gentle and tempting waves on the relations of its foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the then US secretary of state John Kerry. And of course, this Joe Biden was not the same as he had expected.

“While Joe Biden promised during the campaign that he would immediately reverse US decisions in various areas, including the JCPOA, after coming to power, he revoked or changed Donald Trump’s orders and decisions in all areas except the JCPOA! The move was like freezing water for those who thought that the Biden government would return to the JCPOA in a few days and lift the sanctions.” (State-run daily Vatan-e-Emrooz, March 1, 2021)

And the regime’s so-called reformists who saw a sweet future in Biden’s government were forced to accept the bitter reality that everything has changed as one of their affiliated daily’s wrote: “Biden’s America behavior is a sequel to Trump’s American behavior, with the difference that four years of Trump’s cries deafened the world, and for four years Biden’s knavery will occupy the world with itself. According to this:

  • The United States will not return to the JCPOA in the sense that Iran intends.
  • The United States will continue to view China, Russia, North Korea, and the Islamic Republic of Iran as a threat.
  • The United States will continue to benefit from leverage such as sanctions, the UN Security Council, military aggression, and international terrorism.” (State-run daily, Aftab-e-Yazd, March 1)

So, Khamenei must understand that the jug of the appeasement policy has been broken before many years. What Khamenei has miscalculated and, of course, for which he will pay a heavy price, is to scatter dust on the reality of the explosive conditions of society and, consequently, the role of the Iranian resistance in diverting developments toward overthrow.

If in 2015, Europe and America were forced to give concessions to restrain the regime, with the uprisings of December 2017 – January 2018 and November 2019, they realized that it is no longer possible to invest in appeasement with religious fascism. The world beyond the imagination of Khamenei is real. Even the most pragmatic powers, in regulating their relations with this regime, have realized that they should not bet on the losing horse.

There is no escape from the overthrow of this regime, whether with the JCPOA or even with a missile and regional JCPOA.

Tehran’s Rejection of Compromise Is an Invitation to Maximum Pressure

Iran has formally rejected all Western efforts to at compromise during the current impasse over prospective restoration of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. President Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and began expanding US sanctions as part of a strategy of “maximum pressure.” Now the Biden administration appears interested in removing those sanctions and reversing that strategy. But fortunately it is not so commitment to that outcome that it was immediately willing to overlook Iran’s aggressive stance and grant the regime concessions for nothing.

Biden’s long-term strategy remains to be seen, but serious critics of the Iranian regime have at least some basis for hoping that the new administration will come to see value in building off of its predecessor’s policies, rather than contradicting them. Tehran, meanwhile, seems to be gambling on the notion that the US will capitulate to pressure and suspend all sanctions once again, even while the Islamic Republic remains in violation of all major provisions of the JCPOA. The regime’s overzealous efforts to force that outcome may ultimately be self-defeating, as long as its latest rejection of compromise is recognized as part of a larger pattern of deception with malign intent.

There are plenty of Western political figures and Iranian expatriate activists who have long recognized that pattern. In recent weeks, many of them have signed their names to statements urging the United States, the European Union, and other Western governments to adopt more assertive policies for dealing with the Islamic Republic.

In response to such developments as the February 4 guilty verdict for an Iranian diplomat accused of plotting terrorism in Europe, those statements recommended taking such steps as closing Iranian embassies and cultural institutions. This reflects an underlying belief that ordinary negotiations with the Iranian regime are more dangerous than they are beneficial, especially in situations where a veneer of international legitimacy allows the regime to hide its efforts at projecting force beyond its borders.

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Iran and the Gordian Knot of the JCPOA

This was plainly the case with the diplomatic activities of Assadollah Assadi, the third counsellor at the Iranian embassy in Vienna who in 2018 attempted to oversee the bombing of an international gathering of Iranian expatriates just outside Paris. Assadi’s trial revealed that in addition to smuggling explosives into Europe for that operation, the so-called diplomat had been running a network of operatives that spanned at least 11 countries and most likely included other sleeper cells like that which he employed for the attempted attack.

Less obviously, the goal of concealing force-projection was also on display in the negotiations that resulted in the 2015 nuclear deal. The deal’s supporters sold the proceedings to the public as an effort to forestall Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon while also protecting the country’s supposed right to certain closely-related civilian activities. Originally, the goal among Western powers had been to halt Iran’s uranium enrichment altogether, but on the regime’s insistence, that goalpost soon moved to allow a limited stockpile of uranium, enriched to a specified low level.

There may have been some value in this revised aim if Iran had genuinely earned the trust of the international community. But having done nothing to demonstrate its own goodwill, the regime surely recognized this easy compromise as a sign of compromise on the Western side, and promptly set to work exploiting it. The resulting deal was understandably decried by serious critics of the Iranian regime who recognized that it allowed the Iran to continue working openly on certain aspects of its nuclear weapons program, while built-in limits on international inspections also provide the regime with opportunities to secretly pursue outcomes that were technically banned.

If there was any doubt about Iran’s propensity for this sort of deception, it should have been eliminated in 2019, when Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, started boasting to Iranian state media about the ways in which Tehran had manipulated its negotiating partners in order to turn the deal to its advantage.

In January of that year, Salehi revealed that the AEOI had orchestrated the feigned deactivation of the Arak heavy water plant, thereby keeping open a plutonium pathway to a nuclear weapon which was supposed to be closed by the JCPOA. And in November, Salehi explained that even while technically complying with limits on uranium enrichment and stockpiling, the Islamic Republic had designed “countermeasures” that devalued that compliance and allowed nuclear facilities to ramp up both the speed and the extent of their enrichment without delay.

By the time of this latter admission, the underlying phenomenon was already on display for all to see. In May 2019, the regime took its first official steps toward complete abandonment of the nuclear deal’s provisions. Soon thereafter, commentators began publicly marveling at the speed with which Iran’s nuclear material became both more abundant and more highly enriched. The National Council of Resistance of Iran and other high-profile critics of the Iranian regime were then able to cite this observations as clear evidence that Tehran’s commitment to compromise had been oversold since the beginning.

Now, with its rejection of a new Western offer of unofficial, open-ended dialogue, the regime itself has brightly underlined its true attitudes toward the idea of compromise. And it has done so in the wake of a stark reminder, from one of its own senior most officials, of the potential consequences for global security if such compromise fails.

On February 9, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi called attention to one of the most frequently-used justifications for Western efforts to negotiate restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program. But he did so for the express purpose of undermining that support and trying instead to shift the focus of dialogue toward forcing new concessions form the great powers in the West.

“The fatwa forbids the production of nuclear weapons,” Alavi said in reference to a religious edict with which Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei supposedly declared that nuclear weapons are contrary to Islam and therefore not among Tehran’s foreign policy goals. Alavi then turned his attention to the US and its allies in order to suggest that the practical application of that fatwa depends on the conduct of Iran’s adversaries: “But if they push Iran in those directions, it is not Iran’s fault. Those who pushed Iran in that direction will be to blame.”

Such statements make it clear that to the extent Iran is even willing to engage in negotiations over such matters as nuclear weapons development, the goal is not to compromise with the West but rather to lift pressure through deception and ultimately attempt to force capitulation. This point is reinforced by the regime’s decision to reject Western offers of dialogue, but it still remains to be seen whether the point will be properly recognized by those who made the offer.

If the Biden administration and its allies recognize Iran’s obstinance in the proper light, they should also recognize that further attempts at compromise will be futile at best, and extremely self-destructive at worst. Once compromise has been rejected, pressure is the only viable strategy that remains. The US should stand by that strategy, and the nations of Europe should help it to truly achieve “maximum pressure” on Iran.

Iran’s Officials Admit to Playing With the Exchange Rate To Run Their Shattered Economy

‘Increasing the price of the dollar and keeping the dollar artificially high is a reality accepted by all elements of society. Therefore, we must accept the bitter fact that the main culprits of the economic costs and challenges and detriment to the people’s livelihood have been domestic policies,” Iran’s state-run Jahan-e-Sanat daily wrote on 27 February.

This confession is one of the most shameful confessions made by Iran’s state media. It is, in essence, an acknowledgment for years of concealing the fact that the governments of Iran were deliberately raising the exchange rate, compensating for the budget deficit, and paying astronomical salaries and other expenses resulting from false calculations.

On February 26, Mahmoud Vaezi, one of the closest figures to Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani, finally, after years of clumsy denials by the government officials, openly and unequivocally said that the increase in the price of the dollar was intentional: “We did this so that we could run the country’s economy.” (State-run website Asr-e-Eghtesad, February 27)

In justifying this action, he added: “Economically, the exchange rate in Iran is not 25,000 or 27,000 tomans, and we did this so that we could manage the country’s economy, so that today the enemies say that the maximum pressure has failed, and they are looking for a solution, and today Iran is in a position of power.”

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Iran Economist Says Mullahs Must Fix Broken System

When the Khamenei-led regime is willing to ban the import of a valid COVID-19 vaccine to block the uprising and maintain its rule at the cost of the lives of thousands of Iranians, it is natural that using such a lever of playing with the price of dollar to finances its proxy wars and forces and of course its international terrorism is not a strange thing, and destroying the lives of millions of people and sending the under the line of poverty,  line of hunger and homelessness.

For years, one by one, the members of the regime swore that the increase in the price of the dollar was not their job and that the hands of global powers were at work.

For example, on January 13, 2021 Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting: “The reason for the rise in currency prices should be sought in the White House.”

Abdolnaser Hemmati, the head of the regime’s central bank, had repeatedly denied manipulating the exchange rate. In November 2020, he wrote on his web page:

“Regarding the current situation in the foreign exchange market, an attempt is made to seduce certain exchange rates in the market and attribute those rates to the central bank, paving the way for a certain level of exchange rate in the market. While denying all speculations, I emphasize that the only criterion for implementing the policies of the Central Bank is the economic interests of the country. It is not fair, there is talk of manipulating the exchange rate to justify the transfers and negotiations.” (State-run news agency Bours, November 2020)

Of course, these denials did not end with the head of the Central Bank and Rouhani. Last December, government spokesman Ali Rabiee reiterated that the government had not manipulated the exchange rate. Ali Rabiee told reporters about this:

“There has never been a meeting in the government where we do not worry about the exchange rate rising, and there was every attempt to make the exchange rate fall in any way. This is the pessimistic view of a small number of politicians.”

Even affiliated analysts of the regime have repeatedly said that the government itself is responsible for the rise in the price of currency, but the government ignored them.

“Two economists who agree with the government’s theory of exchange rate manipulation for the budget deficit are Hossein Raghfar, a professor of economics at Al-Zahra University, and Ali Dini Turkmani. The two emphasize that the government is raising the exchange rate to make up for its budget deficit.” (State-run website Fararou, May 16, 2020)

Albert Baghzian, a government’s economic expert, had said: “Hassan Rouhani’s government is responsible for the current situation and everything is under the control of the cabinet and passes through that channel. Therefore, the Istanbul-Ferdowsi crossroads cannot be blamed for the rising exchange rate.” (State-run website Rouydad, January 13, 2021)

The inevitable confession by Mahmoud Vaezi, head of Hassan Rouhani’s office, who says that we deliberately raised the price of currency and said in the media propaganda that the reason for this is foreign pressure, is due to government spending, part of which is the media that must repeat this lie repeatedly.

“Thus, the economic logic of determining the price of foreign exchange based on market supply and demand has been completely distorted in the field of Iranian policy-making to confirm the hypothesis that the government is involved in raising foreign exchange prices in order to cover the budget deficit. Although in the past, policymakers have denied the government’s alleged involvement in raising currency prices, Mahmoud Vaezi’s confession reveals more realities in the field of policymaking.” (State-run daily Jahan-e-Sanat, February 27, 2021)

Misogynous Law Bans Iran Ski Coach From Travelling With Her Team

The head coach of Iran’s national Alpine skiing team was banned from accompanying her team to a competition in Italy because of a Misogynous law that means she had to get her husband’s permission to leave the country.

Samira Zargari was prevented from flying out last month, according to a source in the Ski Federation, despite repeated efforts by the federation to get the exit ban lifted so that she could attend the competition.

She was restricted by Paragraph 3 of Article 18 of the Passport Law, which states that married women can only obtain a passport with the written permission of their husband. Outside of marriage, she needs the consent of her nearest male relative, normally her father or paternal grandfather.

Zargari’s case is far from an isolated incident.

The captain of women’s national futsal team, Niloufar Ardalan, was banned from taking part in the Asian competitions in September 2014 after her husband made a complaint.

While in 2017, archer and Paralympian Zahra Nemati was prevented from leaving the country because of her husband’s refusal. Then, eight women who were on national Iranian sports teams were stopped from taking part in international tournaments following their husband’s complaints, according to MP Tayyebeh Siavoshi.

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Iran: World Record Hold in Domestic Violence

There are many misogynistic laws and structure in Iran that restrict women in employment. It is part of a system designed to keep men in the workplace and women in the home.

For example, Article 1117 of the Civil Code says that a husband can ban his wife from a job or industry that he deems would be against the interests of the family or the dignity of either spouse.

Last October, the Tehran Court of Appeals ruled that a female doctor in the emergency department, who examined 180-200 patients per day for COVID-19, was banned from practising medicine because her husband didn’t want her to do so.

This was the same time that the Iranian medical community was under intense pressure because of COVID-19 deaths among doctors and nurses, of whom there were already too few.

And now a new directive, introduced in 2021, means that married women wanting to take the dental residency exam must get their husbands’ consent. It has even been entered into the test that the husband agrees that, following the training period, his wife may serve in any place that the Ministry of Health and Medical Education wish.

This is presumably because there was a lot of women completing training and then being banned from taking a position, but this was not the way to deal with it.

Amnesty on Saravan Protests

Amnesty International said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards illegally used lethal force to subdue unarmed fuel porters in Saravan, Sistan and Baluchestan province, last month, in violation of international law.

The rights group used eyewitness testimony and video footage to determine that Revolutionary Guards at Shamsar military base fired live ammunition at unarmed fuel porters from the impoverished Baluchi minority, killing several, including a teenager, and injuring many more.

The porters were protesting the unannounced closure of the border, which left them unable to complete their job and without much food or water.

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Toiling for Bread in Sistan and Baluchistan

Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Diana Eltahawy said: “By opening fire on a group of unarmed people, Iranian security forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life. There must be urgent, independent criminal investigations into these unlawful killings, in line with international law and standards. Anyone against whom there is sufficient admissible evidence must be prosecuted in a fair trial, without resorting to the death penalty.”

The province’s deputy governor Mohamad Hadi Marashi said that the security forces’ “honour” was at risk, which is why they started shooting, but this was actually just an admission that they were not at risk of death or serious injury, which is the only time that international law permits the use of lethal force.

Eltahawy said: “The official justification the Iranian authorities have given for their deadly use of live ammunition reflects their complete disregard for international standards on the use of firearms. It also shows a shameless contempt for their obligations to respect and preserve human life and to ensure that public officials do not carry out extrajudicial executions by illegal use of firearms.”

One relative of a victim told Amnesty that families and injured victims were forced to sign a statement saying that the Revolutionary Guards were not responsible before bodies can be released or they were allowed to access medical care.

Eltahawy said: “When security forces wilfully and unlawfully use firearms against unarmed people, they either intend to kill or do not care whether their actions are likely to cause death. In either case, under international law, the killings resulting from their unlawful actions are considered not accidental, but deliberate, and should, therefore, be investigated as extrajudicial executions.”

The Military Prosecutor has reportedly opened a criminal case regarding the killings, but international law does not allow for military courts to investigate human rights violations and, given the lack of an independent judiciary, Amnesty has serious concerns about the impartiality of this trial.

Amnesty urged the international community to push for truth from Iran, including an accurate body count.

Iran’s Lost Dreams About the New US Administration and Its Crises

On the front pages of Iran’s state-run dailies, especially those affiliated with the faction of Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, while headlining the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, have tried to show the regime to be in a position of power.

But immediately from another aspect, the flood of socio-economic crises and faction disputes over the share of power and their benefits from plundering Iran’s wealth and economy in their so-called upcoming election, on the one hand, and the regime’s gloomy outlook on the international community, on the other, show the chaotic situation.

The regime has faced to two internal crises in recent days: one is the protests of the people of Sistan and Baluchestan Province against the repressive policies of the regime and the other is the coronavirus.

‘On the sidelines of the events in Saravan’ is the headline of an article in Shargh daily which acknowledged the astronomical dimensions of fuel smuggling in Sistan and Baluchestan and admitted that fuel smuggling is completely different from the work of deprived fuel porters who are risking their lives for just a piece of bread accepting such an extreme hard and danger job.

Fuel smugglers are powerful mafias affiliated with the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who control the entire market in all provinces, starting from the north of the country, ending to their exclusive ports, which smuggle fuel and make a huge revenue more than $6 billion annually.

The above-mentioned article wrote: “The main problem 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)

But the regime’s next crisis, the coronavirus, has reached a point where state-run dailies have acknowledged a series of attempts by the regime to cover up the reality and leave the people alone in this crisis.

In its article titled ‘A year with the coronavirus, Etemad daily, referring to the lack of government support for the people compared to other countries and the people’s hatred for this inaction, referred to the regime’s false statistics on casualties and wrote:

“In 2019 and the first six months of 2020, with the same period of the previous year, showed that the number of the coronavirus deaths is about 2.5 times the official number. The official death toll has risen to 60,000, while the real death toll has risen to about 150,000.” (State-run daily Etemad, March 1, 2021)

This article goes on to refer to the statements made by Khamenei and other government officials about the foreign vaccine and called their expressions, “Completely without competence,” and wrote: “These are absurd professions.” (State-run daily Etemad, March 1, 2021)

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Iran’s Parliamentary Research Center Warns of an Economic Crisis

Lost dreams about the new US administration

The newspapers of both ruling factions refer to the policies of the new US administration with sighs and regrets of the escalation of the situation since the end of Donald Trump’s presidency.

‘Optimism about the new US administration’ is the headline of an article in the Vatan-e-Emrooz newspaper about affiliated with Khamenei’s faction, which wrote: “The US strategy has not changed compared to the previous administration. It seems that the strategy is the same as the usual strategy of applying maximum pressure and finally attaching the missile and regional issue to the hot stove of the JCPOA [2015 Iran nuclear deal].” (State-run daily Vatan-e-Emrooz, March 1, 2021)

The state-run Aftab-e-Yazd newspaper also concluded, referring to the views of government analysts on the policies of the new US administration: “[US President Joe] Biden’s American behavior is essentially a sequel to Trump’s American behavior. The United States will continue to benefit from leverage such as sanctions, the UN Security Council, and military strikes.” (State-run daily Aftab-e-Yazd, March 1, 2021)

The result of nuclear policy, strange national erosion

Estimates by government newspapers, especially those aligned to President Hassan Rouhani’s faction, of the regime’s nuclear industry expansion policy are fundamentally negative.

“The need for optimal management of the nuclear file”, in the state-run daily Shargh is a clear case, pointing out that since the regime’s nuclear project was exposed, the regime has been caught up in the West’s observation tour and wrote:

“During this time, the country has suffered heavy material and moral damage and experienced various shocks that have brought about a strange national erosion, without that the nuclear program had an astonishing change and progress that would finally justify all these costs.” (State-run daily Shargh, March 1, 2021)

This is a clear confession of wasting the Iranian people’s wealth in the regime’s nuclear furnace.

Pensioner Protests Hint at Bigger Iran Protests

Iranian pensioners held nationwide protests for the fourth week in a row on Sunday, but this time it coincided with the uprising in Sistan and Baluchistan province over the extrajudicial killings of fuel porters.

The retirees protested in Tehran, Arak, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Khorram Abad, Karaj, Mashhad, Shahrud, Shushtar, Yazd, and Zanjan.

In Tehran, they rallied outside the Social Security Organization and marched to the Budget and Planning Organization, chanting:

  • “We will only get back our rights on the streets”
  • “Yesterday’s toilers are today’s protesters”
  • “Our main demand, salaries adjusted for inflation”
  • “Our salaries are paid in rials, our expenses are in dollars”
  • “We have nothing, you are living in luxury”
  • “No nation has seen such injustice”

The pensioners are angry, much like other groups in Iran because the economy has been ruined by the government’s systematic corruption, mismanagement, and malign policies, like funding terrorism and missile programmes rather than healthcare.

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Iran Pensioners Protest for 4th Week in a Row

All of this has caused the rial to decline in value, but the authorities have failed to rectify the situation for retirees by increasing pensions, which leaves many under the poverty line. In fact, according to the March 2020 census and economist Gholamreza Kianmehr, the 18 million Iranian retirees make up 96% of those living “under the absolutely poverty line”.

The state-run Mardom Salari daily advised last month that retirees are paid 2.5 million tomans, which is frightening because the poverty line is 10 million. This means that they cannot afford food, housing, clothing, medicine, education, or travel, most of which rises above inflation.

A sociologist Said Madani said that “poverty and unemployment are rampant and, there has been no such discrimination and economic poverty in Iran’s history”. While the deputy director of the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, Hojatollah Abdolmaleki, said that food costs have quadrupled in just three years.

This is how most Iranians live, but those associated with the government live in luxury because they profit off the systems that keep the poor down. This is just one of the reasons that Iran is a powder keg waiting to explode into a nationwide uprising; something that MPs and the media have been warning about.

The state-run Etemad daily wrote Saturday that “the wild horse of unrest is going from one city to another, leaving many injuries and dangers in the system”, while the  state-run Jahan-e Sanat wrote Sunday that the protests are like “a time bomb under the skin of society. No one knows when it will explode, but its dangers for the [system] are more devastating than an attack by a foreign force”.

Iran Economist Says Mullahs Must Fix Broken System

Iranian regime economist Hossain Raghfar spoke Monday about institutionalized corruption by the mullahs and called for urgent action to be taken.

He said: “If the process of destruction and weakening of the economy and society in Iran is to be stopped, a fundamental decision must first be made and the ‘emergency situation’ must prevail in the country, because without it, [economic] reforms are not possible.”

Raghfar said that specific solutions are needed to improve the economy but that some don’t want to make changes, like fixing the currency exchange rate that allows the regime’s cronies to make money while the people suffer.

This is far from the first time that he’s made such comments.

In July 2020, he said that the regime uses the people’s wealth to pay its expenses and called on the mullahs to raise the exchange rate so that insiders would not be able to line their pockets by buying at the artificially-set government price and selling at the free market price.

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Iran: “Public Rights”, the 96% of the Majority, Are the “Subset Right of the Special 4%”

In February, Raghfar rejected regime claims that international sanctions caused the economic crisis, saying that the problem was instead the result of a “change in attitude” following the Iran-Iraq war that led to the legal violation of people’s rights. He expanded on this later in the month by saying that “800 trillion tomans of foreign exchange embezzlements and various types of energy rents have been provided to large and private companies” many of which do not pay tax because they are subordinates of financial institutions under the direct control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

In April 2020, he said: “While $20 billion disappeared from the country during a major corruption scandal, today we ask the World Bank to give us $5 billion. Yet, no one is accountable for this.”

The Iranian people live in poverty, while the regime and its affiliates live in unrivalled luxury. The state-run media has begun to warn that this may be the cause of another uprising, which could bring down the regime as a whole.

The state-run Jahan-e Sanat wrote Sunday: “If these deprivations and this deep social distance continue in their present form, soon the affluent strata, the small minority with all the gifts of life living in luxury towers and their magnificent villas and palaces, will not feel safe. Such a situation is like a time bomb planted under the skin of our society. When this bomb explodes, there will be no sign of [the regime].”