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Iran’s Presidential Election and the Regime’s Diminishing Security

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Iran’s 2021 presidential election has become a nightmare for the government, a nightmare created by the non-participation of the Iranian people. Despite all its claims of the ‘great’ participation of the people, the people have boycotted this election which was visible days and weeks before the election day in their posts and messages on the internet and the social media, especially by the mothers of the killed people of the November 2019 protests.

The regime, fearing the consequences of its sham election which primarily will become a security issue for the regime and endanger its existence did everything to force the people to participate.

But this time everything is different, for the people, both factions of the regime, the so-called reformists and the principlists are dead because years have taught them more than books.

And now the regime is forced to lie on the bed which it has made for itself. A bed without security and support of the people, which is calling for the end of this regime.

Putting the videos of the voting stations published by the regime’s main news agency IRIB News, along with those published by the regime’s main opposition group the MEK will show us a clear image of the situation and the people’s election boycott.

But this can be seen and read from the many speeches of the regime’s officials and the elements who begging for the people’s participation, and if this not happened, the regime’s security will be in a very bad situation. Below are some of the many samples showing the regime’s fear.

Mohammad Javad Zahrii, Director General of Islamic Propaganda of Qazvin Province said to the people, “Despite these grievances, we must know that each of our votes provides security and political authority for Islamic Iran in the region.” (Mehr News Agency, June 18, 2021)

Khabar Online on June 18, 2021, fearing the situation wrote: “The March 2020 election, which saw a turnout of less than 50 percent, raised concerns that this election might repeat that bitter experience too. That is why in recent days, the elders and officials of the system have repeatedly invited people to participate in the elections and to go to the polls. A presence that can change the election scene in favor of what the people want and be an important signal across borders.”

Then this media in a table collected the speeches of some of the regime’s officials which is showing the regime’s bad situation:

Javad Arin Manesh, principlist: “In the whole country, I predict about 40 to 42% (participation). In metropolitan areas, we will have the lowest participation rate in Tehran, and after that in the centers of large provinces such as Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, and Tabriz, the participation rate is expected to be about 30%.

“You can even see that Mr. Khatami invites the people to participate. It does not call for the support of a particular candidate and wants to send a message to the public that the reform process has no representative in the electoral arena, but they should not be angry with the ballot box. However, the outcome of the election is almost pre-determined and Mr. Raisi’s presidency is almost certain.”

Mohamad Ali Abtahi, reformist: “I do not have access to polls, and I think there have been changes in them since yesterday and today, at the same time I think that the ​​participation is below 50%.”

Morteza Alviri, reformist: “Low participation indicates that the republic has been weakened and the people do not support to rule. I am not a polling center, but no doubt less than 50% will participate.”

Ali Tajernia, reformist: “So far, according to opinion polls, the turnout is below 40% or slightly above 40%.”

Mansour Haghighatpour, principlist: “Officials from all political currents, regardless of party or group interests, must invite the people to participate. The diversity of candidates is indeed reduced, but it is still not the case that people will not be able to choose their preferred candidate from the few candidates that remain or will remain. So, God willing, the people will come and cast their votes in the ballot box.”

Mohamad Taghi Rahbar: “The presence of the people should be colorful so that the enemies do not take advantage of this issue and do not increase their coercion.”

Lotfollah Furuzandeh, principlist: “My request to the people of Iran is that with all tastes, styles, and thoughts, given that we are all Iranians and we are interested in Iran and we want our country to be in security and peace and the ground for growth to be provided for it, all people from different currents the left, the right, the independent, etc. having a wide participation in the upcoming elections.”

Ali Motahari, independent: “The high turnout in this election has two positive effects; First, it will send an important message to the Western world and our neighbors. In other words, it has a message for the world, and it will certainly be effective in lifting sanctions and reviving the JCPOA more quickly.”

Mahmoud Vaezi, the head of the Office of the regime’s President: “I hope that the dear people will feel more responsible than before in these very sensitive internal and external conditions and have a wider presence at the ballot box and know that the country belongs to them and for the development of the country and the peace and tranquility of the country and the future of their children, they must decide. We started democracy forty years ago and we are moving forward step by step. There may be violations, but we should never be angry with the ballot box, and we should not be disappointed.”

Fars news agency quoting Abdol Jawad Tohidi Moghadam the Governor of Neka: “Maximum presence in the elections will thwart the conspiracies of the enemies, and we must try with maximum presence to witness the manifestation of another day of God.”

Shabestan news agency quoted one of the regime’s clerics Peyman Dalvand Pour and wrote: “The widespread presence of the people in the elections thwarts the conspiracies of the enemies.”

Shabestan news agency quoted Seyed Ali Mousavi a cleric and wrote: “Today, due to the presence of each individual in the elections, the Islamic system will be strengthened, and the enemies will be weakened.”

Pool News quoted Ahamd Jannati Secretary of the regime’s Guardian Council and wrote: “As long as these people are on the scene, the enemy can do nothing.”

This cleric begged the people and said: “I have three requests, the first participation, the second participation, the third participation.”

Hassan Rouhani the regime’s president: “This election is very important, and I ask the people not to pay attention to the problems and issues that existed in the pre-registration stages of the candidates and to vote for their desired candidate by going to the polls.” (State-run website Tabir-va-omid, June 18, 2021)

Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaee: “The presence of the people in the elections will strengthen Iran’s authority and security, and the people with their presence will vote to build the future of the country.” (State-run website Eghtesad Online, June 18, 2021)

Ali Malek Shahkouhi commander of the Nineveh IRGC Corps in Golestan province said: “The people will disappoint the enemies with maximum presence and participation at the ballot box.” (Tasnim News, June 18, 2021)

Abbas Akhoundi former Minister of Roads and Urban Development: “I am concerned about Iran, and Iran is in a very dangerous situation, and a series of malicious people are seeking to divide the Iranian nation and even some kind of separatist actions. The presence of the people at the ballot box is very effective in this regard, and in fact, we must consider Iran and put aside our egos.” (Jamaran News, June 18, 2021)

Seyed Esmail Mousavi the Friday prayer leader of Ramhormoz: “Elections guarantee national security and the power of the country.” (ISNA, June 18, 2021)

Ali Motahari former MP: “I hope that the participation will be high, and the people will participate, which will have good effects for the country. It has both foreign and domestic effects and will be a message to the world and is effective in lifting sanctions and reviving the JCPOA.” (State-run website Nameh, June 18, 2021)

Ahmad Alamolhoda: “Those who do not go to the polls, if they do not have a religious or customary excuse, they also vote, but they vote for the enemy; Vote for the hypocrites. Are you ready to vote for (the Mojahedin)? If you did not vote in this election and did not have an excuse, then you voted for the enemy.” (State-TV Astan-e-Quds, June 18, 2021)

Yousef Tabatabai Nejad: “Every not given vote will help the enemy, we are now in two phases. We say we should vote; The enemy says we should not vote. So, I want to say one thing, not intentionally; They deliberately do not want to oppose or vote for the enemy. But in the end, the result of their work is that if they do not vote for this side, it means that they vote for the other side. That is the nature of their work.” (State-TV Esfehan Channel, June 18, 2021)

Iran’s Presidential Election Changes Nothing in Economy

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This article is part of our series that explores liquidity in Iran and its harrowing impact on various elements like the country’s financial systems, citizens’ livelihood, industry, and agriculture.

On June 18, the Islamic Republic is supposed to hold the thirteenth Presidential election in post-1979-revolution Iran. In the past part, we discussed candidates’ ‘economic plans and promises,’ noting that they could not care less about financial resolutions.

As one of the major dilemmas in Iran’s economy, we scrutinized liquidity and its horrible impacts on citizens’ livelihood. Indeed, candidates do not have any initiative to rescue the country’s finance. This is another reason, which places nationwide apathy on the horizon.

These days, there are circulated many videos published by ordinary people, particularly the families of the November 2019 protests’ victims and low-income classes, openly calling their fellow citizens to boycott the election. Rather than an election, they name the event ‘selection’ whose winner had been specified priorly.

“The current rulers merely think how to line their pockets with people’s savings and national reserves,” a citizen frankly said. “All of them have been accused of numerous corruption and embezzlement cases.”

“Our vote would change nothing, and this ‘selection’ is only a publicity cynical stunt to justify the ayatollahs’ illegitimate rule,” a citizen said in an audiotape posted on social media.

Furthermore, high-ranking officials plainly underscore this reality that the government only pursues to justify its rule through the election while it lethally silences any economic demand and protest, observers say.

On the other hand, while the candidates avoid providing financial plans, Sayed Nasir Hosseini, the Supreme Leader’s representative and Friday Prayer Imam of Yasouj in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad province, believes that participation in the election is a solution for economic dilemmas. “Refusing to participate in the election will increase economic problems,” Tasnim news agency quoted Hosseini as saying on June 10.

“Dirty money is circulating in the candidates’ headquarters. The same money is the source of the huge volume of banners and posters and the million-dollar trip with the rental of a private plane,” tweeted Abdolnasser Hemmati, the former governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and a 2021 Presidential election candidate, on June 11.

However, the former CBI governor also ignored to provide a comprehensive plan for Iran’s bankrupted economy. He only used information to attack his rivals and take personal advantages. Indeed, he is a key part of the corrupt system that has brought massive financial crises like inflation, liquidity, and high prices to the people.

“If I took office, I would introduce Mr. Rezaei to [Judiciary Chief Ebrahim] Raisi as a disrupter for the country’s economic aspect,” said Hemmati during a televised debate addressing Mohsen Rezaei, the former chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and a Presidential election candidate.

“Mr. Mohsen Rezaei and Mr. Saeed Jalili; you do not know even primary economic issues in the country,” Hemmati added blaming Rezaei and Jalili, the former Supreme National Security Council secretary, for their ignorance.

In response, Rezaei threatened Hemmati with treason allegations. “You, Mr. Hemmati, have accompanied U.S. sanctions. If I took office, I would ban you from departing the country and bring you and several other officials in this administration to trial,” Rezaei said during the same televised debate.

Meanwhile, Rezaei pointed to a deep rift in society. “Today, there is neither relation between the government and economy nor between the people with economy,” he added.

However, while economic dilemmas are the people’s main concern, authorities follow other grips through the coming election. Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Supreme Leader’s representative, and Friday Prayer Imam of Mashhad in Razavi Khorasan province, unveiled authorities’ actual purpose from holding the election. These days, while he does his best for his son-in-law Raisi’s Presidency, he admitted to the Islamic Republic’s need of the election for justifying its terrible ruling.

“They attempt to prevent us from participating in the election. Western states and the arrogant movement try to pretend ‘[apathy] as an anti-establishment referendum if the people did not participate.’ They would like to say that the people are no longer loyal to the state… In fact, they propaganda that the [Islamic Republic] had reached the end of the rope and finished,” Alamolhoda said.

Sayed Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts Presidium, highlighted the Iranian government’s turmoiled condition reckoning that the participation in the election is the sole path for extending the ayatollahs’ ruling system.

“Considering current circumstances, participating in the election is a religious duty for the people. Additionally, it is a rational duty for the people,” Khatami said on June 15.

Furthermore, Sayed Abolhassan Navvab, the dean of University of Religions and Denominations, described participating in polls as a security object. He implicitly admitted that the people’s vote is worthless.

“In such status quo, we need the highest amount of people’s participation for strengthening our ‘national’ security. It does not matter who would be the winner. If dozens of millions of people participated in the election, it means that they are still loyal to the state,” said Navvab on June 15.

Therefore, as government-backed economists and analysts say that the country has plunged into economic dilemmas and is on the verge of collapse, high-ranking officials prioritize ensuring the theocracy’s survival rather than improving people’s living conditions.

On the other hand, Raisi’s untransparent background as the former Astan Quds Razavi chief, the biggest endowment conglomerate in the Middle East, and Hemmati’s disastrous record as the former CBI governor put a more dire situation for Iranian families on the horizon.

Indeed, the people of Iran are the lone part that gains nothing through such elections, and their food baskets are getting emptier due to systematic corruption, rampant inflation, liquidity, poverty, and the devaluation of the national currency rial.

“Only new thieves replace with former thieves,” a citizen plainly said his opinion about the election. “They are all cut from the same cloth. They had held crucial occupations in the past 42 years, and nothing will change,” a woman said, blaming the entire ruling system for financial crises.

Iran’s Attacks on the Environment

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The Iranian government has been condemned for human rights abuses dozens of times over the past 40 years, but some of the mullahs’ crimes are more subtle with the dangerous aspects remaining covered up for decades more.

One specific crime is the abuse of the environment, which does have an immediate impact on the Iranian people but is also a ticking time-bomb waiting to wreak havoc on the population soon.

In this article, we will be looking at the issues with water management that have reduced safe drinking water, destroyed soil fertility, and even increased migration, as lakes and rivers dry out.

Iran covers about one percent of the world’s land, and its population is about one percent of the world’s population; But the amount of water in Iran is less than one percent of the usable water on Earth.

Twelve of Iran’s 31 provinces will lose all their aquifers within the next 50 years, and with the complete drying up of almost half of Iran’s provinces, a large population will have to migrate.

Statistics, which were almost confirmed by Isa Kalantari, head of the Environment Protection Agency, as he said: “Water shortage, if not managed, will force 50 million people in Iran to leave the country.”

Isa Kalantari: “We have closed the flow of water and we no longer have running water. Iran’s rivers are dead, except for Sefidrud and Karun rivers, which are short of breath. The rest of the rivers do not reach their destination and are not alive.”

The drying of Lake Urmia, which is endangering the lives of those in East and West Azerbaijan Province because they don’t have access to drinking water, all because the government wanted to build big dams and a road for military purposes.

The main water consumption is in the agricultural sector, but the officials of the regime still do not believe that there is a water crisis in this country, especially from the south of Alborz and the east of Zagros to the eastern and southern borders. The remaining per capita water in these areas is less than 2 cubic meters, which means that the country is in crisis, not on the verge of crisis.

Meanwhile, the residents of Khuzestan are struggling with a shortage of potable water, even though they are located on the banks of Iran’s largest rivers. Experts predict that this will lead to mass migration in the next 50 years. The situation is not better in Sistan and Baluchistan, with only 19% of residents having access to safe water and they rely on tankers in the port city Chabahar.

Women are forced to queue for hours to get this water in pots that they carry back to their families, which is heavy and dangerous. This is especially troubling because the people require water to clean homes, clothes, and bodies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, things are much worse for those who can’t get to the tankers because at least 20 children have drowned in the pits dug to collect rainwater

The Iranian Resistance wrote: “Environmental degradation in Iran which is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of environmental diversity, has endangered not only the interests of the Iranian people but also the interests of humanity in general. Iran’s theocratic regime is not only the biggest sponsor of terrorism, but also the biggest destroyer of the environment, and it deserves to be audited by the relevant international agencies and organizations.”

Liquidity and Iran’s Economy on the Verge of Presidential Election

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This article is part of our series that explore liquidity in Iran and its harrowing impact on various elements like the country’s financial systems, citizens’ livelihood, industry, and agriculture.

The Islamic Republic is supposed to hold its 13th Presidential election on June 18. Observers argue that Iran’s economic situation is in a volatile situation rather than being in a growing status. They believe that liquidity, inflation, and recession have engulfed the country’s economic structure and are driving it to collapse.

However, on the verge of the Presidential election, the main question is can anyone actually survive Iran’s financial system? In recent televised debates, candidates pointed to several truths like embezzlement cases and lace of education and degrees, which had already been exposed. Although no one questioned and no one provided a plan for how to run the country’s economy?

“If you’ve found any plan of candidates, send it to economists to study,” wrote Aftab-e Yazd daily on May 31. Vahid Shaqaqi Shahri, an economics professor, also said, “I have yet to see any specific plan from candidates.”

In such circumstances, there is nothing remained expect inflation, economic pressure, recession, liquidity, worn-out infrastructures, and people’s empty food baskets from Iran’s economy. The social gap has dramatically expanded while rich ayatollahs’ wealth is estimated to be multiple times the wealth and properties of kings and royal families in the pre-revolution era.

Instead, millions of citizens face horrible phenomena such as organ sale, child laborers, homelessness, and poverty. According to official statistics, more than 90 percent of working families in Iran live below the poverty line.

This figure, of course, does not display the whole reality. Indeed, it only expresses the living condition of those who still have a career. This is while there are millions of unemployed youths, retirees, homeless people, and slum-dwellers who have nothing to lose.

Regarding the candidates’ lack of specific economic plans, it is clear that nothing will change if any candidates take office. In other words, aside from gestures and factional claims, they are all cut from the same cloth, and Iran’s economy would not be glorified via these people, dissidents say.

Liquidity and Its Terrible Impact of Iran’s Banking System

Today, liquidity is one of major dilemmas for Iran’s economy. In the past decades, different administrations tried to ease financial failures through uncountable printing and injecting banknote to the market.

However, in this status quo, printing unsupported banknote has added insult to injuries of society, particularly the low-income classes. In reality, the people have a lot of money, but their purchasing power has been vanished due to a sharp devaluation of national currency rial.

“According to official, in the first nine-month of 2012, the country’s liquidity was 4.3 quadrillion rials [$162.246 billion]. In 2013, this number exceeded 6 quadrillion rials [$173.913 billion]… However, printing destructive banknote significantly increased in next years while more than 50 percent of Iran’s liquidity in history was occurred in only the past three years,” wrote Hamdeli daily on June 9.

“From 2018 to 2020, liquidity amount surpassed 16 quadrillion rials [$90.909 billion], reaching a mind-blowing number of 35 quadrillion rials [$147.679 billion],” Hamdeli added.

Abovementioned clause of Hamdeli’s piece indicates that despite an increase in the liquidity amount—based on rial—however, the value of liquidity against credit monetary units like U.S. dollar and Euro has significantly declined.

In other words, the increasing rate of liquidity has been matched with the national currency’s devaluation tarnishing people’s food baskets dramatically. In this context, outraged people frequently chant in their protests, “Expenses are based on dollars while our salaries are based on rial.”

Presidential Candidates’ Solutions for Financial Issues

Following public grievances and power struggle among different parts of the ruling system, some candidates were forced to present ‘economic plans.’ However, given the lack of a profound cognition of financial crises, they have provided ridiculous solutions, which would complicate dilemmas more rather than solving them.

For instance, Mohsen Rezaei, the former command-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced that he would increase monthly subsidies from 450,000 rial [$2.20] to 4.5 million rial [$22.00]. Rezaei also introduces himself as an elite economist.

Indeed, in a country that does not have any stable revenue, which has built up its all economy and budget on oil sale—while the oil has yet to extract, refine, and export, a ten-time increase in subsidies will only meet through printing unsupported banknotes. Such decision will only double the liquidity amount and devaluate rial more than before.

“The root of inflation and recession dilemmas should be searched in some officials’ irresponsibility and rational imprudence,” Hamdeli added.

On the other hand, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representatives and Friday prayer Imams tout participation in the election as a resolution for economic problems while no candidate has provided a specific plan for financial affairs. “Today, the main solution for difficulties is a strong participation [in the election] and right choice,” said Khamenei’s representative in Qom Sayed Mohammad Saeedi.

“Inflation, raw material sale, social justice, economic infrastructures, privatization, water and environment, families, reduction of population, slum-dwelling, youths’ inability to marry, addiction, social harms, divorce, resistance axis—referring to Tehran’s extremist proxies in the Middle East, etc. are the most important topics that should be addressed by officials in the new era. They should no longer speak about sidelines,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Saeedi as saying on June 10.

Therefore, authorities well realize the country’s current situation from environmental catastrophes to families’ dilemmas, slum-dwelling crisis, addiction, high-prices, inflation, and liquidity. However, no one approaches such major issues avoiding shedding light on institutionalized flaws in the theocratic system.

And maybe the candidates’ refusal to addressing such issues is due to systematic corruption that has engulfed the entire Islamic Republic. In February 2018, Khamenei described the corruption as a seven-headed dragon that “still moves whenever one of its heads was cut off.” Nevertheless, the candidates’ refusal may be for their direct or indirect role in 42 years of corruption and their interests through such worn-out system.

Iran Officials Admit That Elections Are Fake

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Iranian officials are admitting that the presidential elections on Friday are basically a sham, rather than a true expression of the people’s democratic will.

Former intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi said Monday that the Guardian Council, which is responsible for approving candidates, disqualified high-ranking official Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in 2013 because it wasn’t “beneficiary to the system’s interests” which just shows that Iranian elections aren’t fair, but rather rigged in favour of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s preferred candidate.

While Khamenei affiliate Hassan Abbasi admitted in May that there is an irony in holding an election under the mullahs, although he insinuated that the problem began in 1997 under President Mohammad Khatami, insinuating that this is because the mullahs “accepted the western democracy’s model”. (It wasn’t.)

This wasn’t an isolated incident because the Guardian Council disqualified a number of well-known candidates from this year’s election because Khamenei wants to consolidate power and wants to ensure that Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi becomes president. In fact, the mullahs have never held a fair election since it took power in 1979.

Mahmoud Sadeghi, former member of the parliament, referring to the fact that the report on Rafsanjani’s disqualification was prepared by calculating its cost and benefit for the system, reminded of Rafsanjani’s suspicious death in Farah pool and and warned Heidar Moslehi and said: “We will probably see a ‘cost-benefit’ report on his life and death in the near future.” (State-run daily Jahan-e-Sanat, June 15, 2021)

Regarding the revelation of how Rafsanjani was disqualified from the Guardian Council , which is now called Moslehi-Gate, the state-run Arman newspaper wrote: “The scandal of the Moslehi-Gate will have a profound effect on society and show how some expediencies overshadow the fundamental rights of the nation and weaken the foundations of the republic.” (Arman newspaper, June 15, 2021)

Election in Iran is a travesty and a selection process by Khamenei, who is unelected. Khamenei controls the Guardian Council, an unselected vetting body that is tasked with qualifying candidates.

This is why the Iranian Resistance has long stipulated that there is no point in voting, so they want the public to boycott the elections. The Resistance Units carried out activities in 310 areas during May and  250 places in April, which have been widely supported by the Iranian people.

This isn’t surprising because the people are understandably angry at the officials for numerous crimes, including the violent suppression of protesters in 2018 and 2019, which included the arbitrary killings of over 1,500 protesters.  The relatives of those martyrs made a video supporting the boycott and saying that they “neither forgive nor forget” what the authorities did then or for the previous four decades.

The state-run Hamdeli daily wrote Monday: “The scar and wound of the November 2019 incident are fresh. The exact details of the bloody days of November 2019 have not been published yet, and at the same time, no one in the different branches is willing to take responsibility for the decisions made those days. The death toll in November 2020 is still in limbo.”

As Khamenei tries to consolidate power with Raisi, the people are refusing to sweep the mullahs’ crimes under the rug and their restiveness will only increase.

The Plight of Female Street Vendors in Iran

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Female street vendors are facing harassment – physical, sexual, and psychological – and violence every day on the metro in Tehran because of the misogynous policies that not only encourage the suppression of women but also prevent women from accessing organizational support.

The number of women peddling in the metro has increased considerably in the past few years. Why? Well, because women prefer to peddle on the underground rather than the street because rising living costs and the economic crisis means that they are forced to take these insecure jobs but are facing pressure from officials who are trying to cut peddling, without fixing the reasons for this, so are just making the lives of these women worse.

Female peddlers are working long hours for little money, but they are desperate to make ends meet through any means as rent and food prices soar. Many of the peddlers are graduates or even employed teachers. Their working environment has led many to suffer from depression and contract the coronavirus.

Of course, we haven’t even looked yet at the harassment or violence they suffer, particularly from municipal officials. Let’s hear from some of the women.

One 35-year-old accounting graduate with three children had her goods confiscated by officials who insinuated that she would be able to get them back in exchange for sexual favours. While a 17-year-old, who is missing school to earn extra money for her family, was sexually harassed by a subway officer.

One 44-year-old, who has been working for 15 years, said: “The more you are available to the officers, the greater the harassment. A friend of mine who was very beautiful was not safe from the municipal authorities. She was married and had children, but they didn’t care. It’s bad enough to be a poor woman with no support. On top of that, it seems everyone wants a piece of your body.”

One 40-year-old with a degree in literature, who used to work as a teacher, has been peddling handicrafts for seven years, saying that officials routinely obstruct her and even stole her goods. A 22-year-old said that she is routinely propositioned by officials who know that she needs money, while a 29-year-old mother said that she’s been working on the subway since being fired after getting pregnant.

This woman said: “No laws protect us. It’s like we don’t exist. All the authorities do is ban our work. They take our goods, and we have to jump through bureaucratic hoops just to get them back.”

Iran Candidates Spend Third Debate Displaying Infighting

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The Iranian presidential candidates spent the third debate accusing each other of corruption and other crimes, which showed how the ruling theocracy’s infighting is increasing dramatically as they struggle to hold onto power.

One candidate, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, spoke about how the dissatisfaction of the people with the current system means that the smallest of social issues spark protests and even become a crisis in their own right, highlighting the fuel price increase that preceded the November 2019 major protests.

He said: “Look at the cases of individuals like Isa Sharifi, who was afflicted to [parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf]; it has been left unattended for four years. He had embezzled billions of tomans. No one cares. Look at the case of Babak Zanjani. If these cases were clarified, people would have trusted.”

Mehalizadeh then admitted that the people’s call for an election boycott is growing by the day because the people are unfulfilled.

Of course, he was far from the only official criticising his rivals and blaming them for the issues facing the country.

Amir Hossain Ghazizadeh-Hashemi acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged the country and forced people to choose between putting food on the table or possibly dying from Covid. He said that officials and affiliates have enjoyed some benefits but the people are losing their jobs because resources are unfairly distributed.

He said: “If [officials] had a bit of decency, our national athletes were not street vendors, and people were not plundered. People are frustrated because they see no decency in the system.”

Mohsen Rezai, a former Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander,  acknowledged that the mafia and children of officials control the economy.

While Alireza Zakani spoke about liquidity increasing six times to 3.5 quadrillion tomans and the monetary base more than doubling to 50 trillion tomans, calling for former central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati to answer for this.

He said: “Inflation of 52% is a catastrophe created by the government of Hassan Rouhani. The government has tried to manage itself using people’s belongings. As a result, liquidity has increased sixfold, today there is a conflict between plunderers and those plundered.”

Then, when the issue turned to the November 2019 fuel price increase, with Hemmati trying to deny responsibility for this, Zakani accused him of lying, citing a September 2019 official letter where Hemmati supposedly demanded that the price be increased to fix the budget deficit.

Of course, while they are accusing each other of crimes, none of the candidates really care about the people.

The Iranian Resistance (NCRI) wrote: “The regime’s increasing infighting reflects officials’ fear of Iranian people underlined that they “neither forgive nor forget” the mullahs’ forty years of oppression and corruption. So these so-called candidates are fighting over more power so they could further plunder people.”

Apathy in Presidential Election Is Not Because of Disqualifications, Iranian Officials Say

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These days, Iranian officials’ main concerns are over a public boycott of the coming Presidential election on June 18. Regardless of their factions, candidates do their bests to drag citizens to the polls. From making baseless promises to breaching the censorship restrictions and even approaching the Islamic Republic’s redlines, they recognize no constraint to deceive citizens.

These attempts indicate that the authorities forecast a historic apathy and that the ayatollahs no longer enjoy social acceptance. Nevertheless, the people of Iran had already declared they trust neither reformists nor principalists through their meaningful slogans during their nationwide protests. “Reformist, principalist, the game is over,” was a slogan frequently chanted by protesters.

Iran’s Lobbies and Appeasers Lay Blame on Disqualifications

However, Tehran’s lobbies in the West and advocates of the appeasement policy mislead the international community in accordance with their interests, dissidents say. Indeed, they pursue to revive the failed game of “reformists versus hardliners” to take their personal and factional advantages.

For instance, Sina Toossi, the senior research analyst of Tehran’s D.C.-based lobby group NIAC, promotes such false thoughts in favor of ‘reformists.’ Indeed, he is practically running a propaganda campaign for ‘reformists’ while ‘moderate’ President Hassan Rouhani was directly involved in the mass killings of protesters in November 2019, economic failures and the catastrophe in Tehran’s Stock Market, executions of hundreds of people, including political activists, women, and juvenile offenders, and terror activities in the U.S. and EU.

“While the Guardian Council’s action gives Raisi a relatively far easier path to victory, it also fundamentally stains any legitimacy his election would have… Many Iranians will believe this race was decided before it even started,” wrote Toossi in the National News on May 26.

‘Reformists’ and ‘Hardliners’ Admit the Theocracy Has Reached the End of the Rope

Nonetheless, ‘reformists’ and ‘hardliners’ rejected Toossi’s claims a long while ago. In a roundtable on August 11, 2019, ‘hardliner’ Abolqassem Raoufian, the secretary-general of the Islamic ‘Iran Zamin’ party, admitted that the people no longer trust ‘reformists’ or ‘hardliners.’

“The people do not look at reformer and hardliner politicians as a salvation who are able to guarantee a prosperous life and fate for them,” Raoufian said.

Furthermore, ‘reformist’ sociologist Sadeq Zibakalam mentioned the popular slogan of “reformist, hardliners, the game is over,” emphasizing, “This slogan has become known and familiar.”

“I believe that ‘reformists, hardliners, the game is over’ is repeating more and more. This repetition proves that this slogan has been familiar in the society,” Zibakalam said. “If we imagine the Islamic Republic as a tree, at least this political tree had two fruits after 40 years, one of the fruits was the hardline manifesto, and the other was reformism. Both of them have collapsed. Both of them have arrived at the end of the rope. Both of them have lost their credibility.”

“The new generation, educated people, intellectuals, cultured and elite people, don’t give a damn about the hardliners or the reformists,” he added.

Moreover, in an interview with Entekhab website on May 31, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the former Parliament (Majlis) Speaker and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s advisor, rejected ties between public participation and disqualifications by the Guardian Council.

“Was there 80-percent participation before the announcement of the qualifications leading you to blame the Guardian Council for the low participation?” Entekhab quoted him as saying.

Four days later, Khamenei’s representative and Friday Imam in Sough, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, blamed those who criticize the Guardian Council for low participation. “Today, some raise and promote the low participation issue… The reason for non-participation or low participation is not because of disqualifications,” Fars news agency quoted him as saying on June 4.

The Ayatollahs’ Record Is the Main Reason for Apathy

Therefore, contrary to misguiding details spread by Tehran’s foreign propaganda, the main reason for the people’s apathy is not the Guardian Council’s disqualifications. In reality, the people of Iran have vented their anger at the entire Islamic Republic regime. They plainly express their fatigue and frustration over the current ruling system.

They no longer trust the ruling system that has brought them nothing but suppression, corruption, poverty, terrorism, and international isolation. Constant protests in Iran alongside nationwide demonstrations in December 2017-January 2018, August 2018, November 2019, and January 2020 underscore this truth. Indeed, public apathy is the flipside of anti-establishment protests, which have densely shaken the theocracy’s pillars.

Iranian Candidates Shed Light on Forged Certificates

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In less than a week, the Islamic Republic will hold its 13th Presidential election. Observers and even officials and state media forecast unprecedented apathy. Therefore, to drag citizens to the polls, handpicked candidates reveal damning details of one another. An important revelation has been that many officials have forged university degrees.

“Mr. [Judiciary Chief Ebrahim] Raisi, you have only studied until the sixth grade… It is impossible to manage economy with this level of education,” said Mohsen Mehralizadeh, a Presidential candidate, in the second round of televised debate on June 8.

“I respect your seminarist education… However, in your family trip, do you give your car’s steering wheel to someone who is religious, trustee, and pious, but he does not have driving license?” he added.

However, the catastrophe has been very painful for the government. Many officials  who hold and brag about their Ph.D., bachelor’s, and master bachelor’s lack minimum education. “Someone has a diploma but claims that he has a master’s degree. He cannot even write a simple letter. This is the outcome of such story,” said economist Mehdi Pazoki in a televised program.

During the power struggle , the state-run TV shed light on the systematic forgery. “The corruption was exposed when an individual affiliated with an institution complained to the Sciences Ministry. In our visits, we realized that the number of issued certificates do not match the number of students. For instance, an education institution has issued 1,000 certificates while there are only 25 official students,” the reporter said.

“Thanks to this clue, it was revealed that managers of the government and the private sector are the most dedicated clients of these [forged] certificates,” the report added.

In this context, several former officials like Mohsen Rezaei, the former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), are among the above-mentioned private sector’s CEOs. Rezaei received his Ph.D. within one night without any prior notice.

“Mr. Zakani, you do not know anything about the economy. Have you passed even two classes of economy? The situation of your Ph.D. is also clear. It is clear how you gained your certificate. Don’t push me to say these truths,” said Abdolnasser Hemmati, the former governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), addressing another Presidential candidate Alireza Zakani.

“Mr. Rezaei, you claim that you are an ‘economist.’ I very well know how you passed economic terms. I know how you gained your certification,” Hemmati added addressing Rezaei.

In response to Mehralizadeh and Hemmati, Raisi showed a license issued by Motahari University. However, Raisi’s certificate fueled ambiguities. The degree lacks minimum credit. For instance, the issuer has written Sayed instead of the name of Raisi’s father while everyone knows that Sayed is a title in the Persian culture.

Also, the issuer has written that Raisi finished his education in April 2011. However, the certification was issued in February 2014. Furthermore, Motahari was a school in 2014 and only in January 2017 upgraded to a university.

Raisi’s forged certificate is the tip of the iceberg. And there are enormous samples of such forged certificates, including President Hassan Rouhani’s Ph.D. from Britain while he cannot speak English fluently to Ali Kordan, the Interior Minister of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration, who did not know that Oxford University is not located in London!

Iran Dispatches Terror Squads to Iraq: Militia Commander Confesses

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“Confessions made by Qassem Musleh al-Khafaji, one of commanders of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in al-Anbar governorate, unveiled planning and targeting of several activists, demonstrators, and journalists,” al-Hadas TV reported on June 4 based on details provided by security sources.

Musleh had been detained by security forces a week earlier. He was the West al-Anbar Operations commander. According to sources familiar with the issue, influential officials attempted to have him released. However, judiciary authorities insisted on his crimes, describing an ‘obvious abuse of power.’

During the interrogations, Musleh revealed a 20-member group that was assassinating Iraqi protesters. “There are some snipers among these people. They had entered Iraq under the command of an officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from Najaf airport on October 3, 2020,” Musleh admitted.

Since 2017, Musleh was the West al-Anbar Operations commander. He had also been the commander of Brigade 13, which called al-Tofouf, affiliated with Iran-backed militias.

According to sources, Musleh used to attend a ‘war room’ for suppressing the October protests. The war room was managed by militia commanders and officials closed to Iran.

Further investigations exposed that Musleh was protecting Iranian weapons and missiles which were transferred through Iraq to Syria. Since the beginning of Syrian protests in 2011, the IRGC has supplied Iranian and Afghani paramilitary groups in Syria to keep Bashar al-Assad in power.

On the other hand, Musleh was involved in smuggling of narcotics, essential cargoes, and families of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL/ISIS). In his confessions, Musleh unveiled a great embezzlement, and how an armed network affiliated with high-ranking military commanders controls sensitive service centers and facilities. “This network had influenced Iraqi security organizations and ensured its positions within them,” al-Hadas quoted Musleh as saying.

These confessions prompted Iraqis’ anger unprecedentedly. Observers describe them as a ‘black box’ and the tip of the iceberg, which gradually leaked outlaw and dangerous performances of militias.

Iran-backed parties like Asaeb Ahl-e Haq severely condemned Iraqi forces’ operation. “The administration of Mostafa Kazemi follows clear policies, which cause to the establishment of a police state,” said Qais al-Khazali, the founder and leader of Asaeb Ahl-e Haq who was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2019 for human rights abuses.

“Some detainees, who are accused of financial corruption cases, have been forced to making confessions against elite politicians of Iraq,” Khazali said, adding, “Musleh had been exposed to attack and invasion in custody.”

Notably, in October 2019, hundreds of thousands of people flooded onto the streets protesting systematic corruption and unbridled influence of Iran-backed militias and parties in the entire political and judicial system. At the time, the Iranian government did its best to keep the government of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, one of its allies, in power.

The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei personally interfered advising the people of Iraq to prioritize security over their livelihood grievances. “The U.S. and Western intelligence services, which are supported by regional dogmatic states’ finance, most of all are making chaos around the world. This is the worse adversary and the most dangerous grudge against a nation. I advise compassionates of Iraq and Lebanon to follow their grievances in legal paths,” Fars news agency quoted Khamenei as saying on October 30, 2019.

At the time, Reuters revealed that Iran had intervened to prevent ousting of Iraqi prime minister in an exclusive report. “In a secret meeting in Baghdad on October 30, Qassem Soleimani intervened. Soleimani asked [Badr Organization’s chief Hadi] al-Amiri and his militia leaders to keep supporting Abdul Mahdi, according to five sources with knowledge of the meeting,” Reuters wrote on October 31.

However, Iraqi protesters finally pushed back Iran-aligned Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi despite the militias’ harrowing crimes and suppression. As one of their main slogans, demonstrators condemned Khamenei, Soleimani, and other Iran-backed parties and militias, demanding their expulsion from Iraq.

Currently, confessions made by Qassem Musleh is a key part of the puzzle of Iran’s influence and malign behavior in neighboring countries. In their protests, Iraqi citizens from different walks of life once again called on the government to expose all details and hold criminal militias accountable.