Home Blog

Treating Stagflation, Only by Restructuring Iran’s Economy

For the past century, revenue from the sale of Iran’s oil has filled the pockets of the dictatorships in this country, especially that of the theocratical rule. What has been ignored and neglected is the scientific, economic, technical, and educational development of the country and its people.

Every time the rulers faced a problem or challenge, they have chosen the simplest way which is further opening the oil valves.

Knots that could be untied with the main source of the country which are the people and helping the development, welfare and prosperity of the country have become more blind, and the benefits of the oil money flowed in the pockets of the rulers, and its consequences becoming the chains of poverty and misery of the people.

Now after one hundred years of corrupted rulers, the country’s economic and social damages are unsolvable.

One of the biggest challenges and gaps in Iran’s economy which are now becoming visible, because the government has lost its main source of income which is oil, are inflation and the stagnation of the economy.

The government and the mullahs’ rule are no longer capable to solve both the social and economic crisis at the same time and are forced to choose between them.

But whichever has priority, the other will act like an unstoppable wildfire which will hurt the country and people. Even the government’s specialists are confessing that the rule has lost the time in these 40 years to solve the country’s economic problems. And they are not able to reverse that time anymore unless heavy changes are made in the future.

Controlling inflation and creating a recession or economic boom with money printing has reached a dangerous stage. Iran’s economy is at a difficult juncture this year, with rising inflation, especially in the last three years, while many officials fear Iran’s fate will that of Venezuela. On the other hand, any boom requires a lot of money to be injected into the market, which in turn will further increase inflation.

“Iran’s economy is in a difficult situation. Recession and inflation are the most important economic problems that Iran is facing in 2021, and if it (Government) does not have a plan for it, this situation will be transferred to the following years, in which economic development plans will no longer make sense.” (State-run daily Arman, April 17, 2021)

Mehdi Karbasian, a government economist, said: “Iran’s economy has been suffering from stagflation for years and this procedure is one of the rare economic diseases in the world. That is, countries are either in recession or inflation and stagflation are very rare. But unfortunately, over the past decades, we have also had serious stagflation at times.” (Mashregh, April 17, 2021)

He points to inflation above 40 percent, which is felt in the items and food of the weak strata of society, i.e., the fourth and fifth deciles, close to 70 percent of the society, and on the other hand, the recession has reached a point where GDP has been negative for several years and we see that the economy has shrunk over the past year or two, and in one year in 2019 the country’s economy shrank by 12 percent.

The inevitable result of this situation is dissatisfaction.

“There has been a fundamental change in the context of Iranian society that can no longer be denied. This event is the turning point of society in the satisfaction curve and the flow of satisfaction.

“The twelfth government no longer has the money to give to the higher institutions and the regulatory bodies, and they fall from the satisfied rank to the line of the dissatisfied. It no longer has the money to give to the workers, so the workers are also dissatisfied.

“Iran’s education and health personnel are dissatisfied because of the government’s inability to increase wages and salaries due to a lack of welfare funding.

“There is no money left to pay farmers to buy wheat. Journalists, footballers, writers, intellectuals, as well as government employees, and more importantly, actors and key players in politics and economics, are also dissatisfied.” (Jahan-e-Sanat, April 17, 2021)

And now the sweet dreams of all officials and experts of this regime in returning the situation to a previous state are fade away and “now, at the beginning of 2021, we are facing a society full of all kinds of problems, and it seems that Iran’s economy is falling apart, and the consequences of this event will sooner or later affect other sectors such as politics, culture and social affairs.” (Jahan-e-Sanat, April 17, 2021)

And these phrases are evidence enough: “As in 2020, there is no empty capacity of stock exchanges and debt securities to compensate for this deficit and prevent the monetization of this deficit.

“How is the stock market and the debt market (capital market) supposed to finance a total of about 300 trillion Tomans of the government’s budget of 840 trillion Tomans in 2021, which is equivalent to 35 percent?” (Kayhan, January 26, 2021)

Iran’s Suicide Cases on the Rise

As more Iranians, particularly women, feel increasingly helpless in the face of so many crises and societal issues, suicide rates in Iran are going up because they feel detached from friends and family, as well as from fulfilling lives outside of their personal relationships.

In fact, since 2017, 60 people, mostly women, have died from suicide in the city of Dishmuk alone, which suicide rates in the provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Ilam were highest.

Sociologist and university professor Amanullah Gharaee-Moghadam said that one of the main reasons for suicide of a lack of trust in the authorities overall and discrimination inherent within the mullahs’ laws.

He said: “They say, ‘give birth to more babies!’” They have told girls that their hair was seen. Did they become religious? The structure in Iran is sick. You cannot force society to observe rules from 100 years ago. Today, young people see, hear, and read. They observe the world through their computers.”

Indeed, one of the problems is forced marriage, which is more common in girls under 15. Most of the time, it causes irreparable damage as girls drop out of school to get married and then if their husband dies or divorces them, they are left without the means to get a good job to support themselves.

Here are some of the most recent examples of suicide due to forced marriage:

  • Anahita Shahidi, 18, killed herself on January 23 to avoid a forced marriage to her cousin
  • Sahar Fakheri, 20, committed suicide on March 18 so that she wouldn’t be married off
  • An unnamed 15-year-old girl, who was a victim of child marriage, killed herself just after getting married

It’s worth noting that the suicide rate jumped 4.2% in the period March 21-November 20, 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. This is likely due to the pandemic and the authorities’ lacklustre response to it, but the main cause for suicide, especially among women is still the mullahs; dictatorship.

The state-run daily Jahanesanat previously warned that this spate of suicides could become more pronounced and inspire protests, not unlike the ones that nearly overthrew the rulling theocracy in 2019 and 2017.

The Iranian Resistance wrote: “Beyond all the frustration surrounding the mullahs’ misogynistic rule and overall distrust in the government, protests such as those in 2017 and 2019 are on the rise. The fact that more people are protesting gives hope to the Iranian people for the eventual overthrow of the regime.”

80,000 Iranian Nurses Have Had Coronavirus

Over 251,000 Iranians have now died from coronavirus in Iran, according to the Iranian Resistance, while the Head of Iran’s Nursing Organization Mohammad Mirza Beigi reports that 80,000 nurses were infected and 8,000 cannot work right now because of it.

All of this displays the authorites’ cruelty in refusing to buy the vaccines to protect healthcare workers and the public.

Beigi told the Entekhab website on April 6 that four nurses are needed for every 1,000 citizens of a country, according to international standards, but there is less than one nurse per 1,000 citizens in Iran.

The nursing shortage isn’t a new thing. In 2018, Hossein-Ali Shahriari, the head of the Parliamentary Health Committee, said that across the public and private healthcare sectors, there was a “shortage of 80,000 to 150,000 nurses”, but it has been made worse because of the pandemic, with 10% of the staff out of commission and 110 nurses having died from COVID-19, according to Beigi.

Of course, since Beigi made these comments, the death toll for nurses has risen to 130 and may have increased since, according to the General Director of the Nurse’s House, who said that the delay in purchasing and distributing the vaccine is “massacring” nurses in hospitals.

On April 13, Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam said: “Unfortunately, in the past week, eight nurses in various cities died from COVID-19 and in light of the delay in the vaccination of nurses, it can be said that nurses are being massacred in hospitals. Unfortunately, with 130 dead nurses who were fighting COVID-19, we are among the countries with the most number of infections and deaths among nurses.”

Horrifically, the true number may be much higher because of the government secrecy surrounding COVID-19 deaths and infection.

Officials refuse to get the vaccines already approved by the World Health Organisation, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressly banning several of them in January, and is blaming the public for rising infections, saying that they don’t follow health protocols but now even the state-run media is pushing back.

The Jahan-e Sanat state-run daily wrote on April 8: “Everyone knows that during the past 14 months, the government has put preference over the economy to the lives and health of people, although the people are always the ones who are sacrificed.”

Hamid Emadi, a member of the COVID-19 Taskforce said on April 9, that the county would face “at least three difficult weeks filled with death” because conditions in hospitals were so bad.

Iran: Civil Disobedience and Conflict With the State Norms

Corruption and fear of the people’s fury and protests are factors that Iranian officials and state media are warning each other about daily. The ruling factions blame each other for the spread of the coronavirus warning about the consequences of such an inhuman policy, not considering the necessary resources for the vaccination of the people.

The state-run daily Arman in an article with the title, “Do not blame people in crises” on April 18, warned the state about the consequences of its policy on the coronavirus and wrote: “’When the class gap expands so much that even mountains and hills are unable to fill it, how can we talk about the confrontation of life and bread?

“Civil disobedience and abnormalities are the main products of economic pressures in society, and we must also pay attention to the logical point that people‘s patience has its limits.” (Arman, April 18, 2021)

“Not trusting people” is the title of one the articles of the Jahan-e-Sanat daily, which pointed to the hollow promises of the government about the coronavirus and wrote: “This has made people angry about the current situation. When a spark hits these people, they enter the field with the utmost violence, and then the people become uncontrollable.” (Jahan-e-Sanat, April 18, 2021)

Then the state-run daily Resalat dashes cold water of the government’s fake hope and wrote: “We will fail in the face of coronavirus, and the fate of the vaccines we need will be unknown.” (Resalat, April 18, 2021)

Other factors like the social and economic crisis are causes for concern for the government affiliates too, warning each other, which is uncomplimentary confess about their institutional corruption.

“The reasons for the endless cycle of underdevelopment” is the title of one these warnings an article in the Iran daily, which is belonging to the president’s faction, attacked the rival faction and wrote: “they (Supreme leader’s faction) have converted the political wings of Iran to soup kitchen, then warned: “This is the path that will lead to a very dangerous impasse.” (Iran daily, April 18, 2021)

“I wish we did not have mines” is the title of an article in the Mostagel daily pointing to one of the corruption cases and wrote: “The government receives about $400 trillion a year in pre-mining revenue without spending a return on mining protection or beneficiary villagers.” (Mostagel, April 18, 2021)

“The stock market seeks to build trust” is another article pointing corruption written the state-run daily Vatan-e-Emrooz who wrote: “The government earned about 2000 trillion tomans by selling two negotiable investment funds called ‘Dara One’ and ‘Palayesh One’. The government also earned about 1700 trillion tomans from the tax on stock transfers. These figures show that the capital market in 2020, if not favorable for real shareholders, was sweet for the government.” (Vatan-e-Emrooz, April 18, 2021)

The state-run daily Setareh-e-Sohb analyzed the root of the government’s corruption and wrote: “The country’s economy has been a victim of the country’s oligarchy for the past few decades, and now the government is in the service of the same oligarchy’s pocket, and if this path and trend does not change, Iran’s situation will worsen in the future.” (Setareh-e-Sohb, April 18, 2021)

The state-run daily Etemad also warns of years of looting from the pockets of the people, citing ‘sociologists, economists, politicians and economic activists’ within the system and wrote: “The increasing and continuous decline of the purchasing power of the citizens is like a time bomb, and if we do not neutralize it at the right time, we do not know how much damage it will cause to the (system) with its explosion.” (Etemad, April 18, 2021)

Who’s in the Iran Presidential Race and Does It Matter?

Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei has long expressed his support for a “young and hezbollahi” government with a president in the mould of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

With the Presidential elections coming up in June, the state media is focusing on possible candidates, as various officials have already put their names forward, but as the decision is ultimately in the hands of Khamenei, which one is looking most promising?

Probably Hossein Dehghan. This former Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) official and Defence Minister is currently the most important candidate, but the state-run IRNA news agency warns that “military figures” will not help ease the growing tensions that could see the clerical system swept from power.

Other important candidates are:

  • current judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, known for his role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners
  • Mullahs’ founder’s grandson Hassan Khomeini, although Khamenei asked Khomeini to withdraw his candidacy with the hopes of preventing protests
  • former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who Khamenei has also tried to block coverage of

However, the ILNA also notes that who wins is less important than whether Iranians are turning up to vote, as a large boycott is planned to protest the mullahs’ corruption and show the need for regime change.

The piece read: “The most important element that can bring people to the ballot boxes is the officials’ apology to the people for their shortcomings. In today’s society, we are witnessing people giving a cold shoulder and showing indifference to the elections, and if these circumstances continue it is predicted that there will be a sharp decline in votes.”

The Aftab Yazd wrote that many Iranians also feel that their participation in the elections is irrelevant because nothing changes for the people, no matter the faction in power. This, plus the dire economic situation, has led to despair and the paper warns that it won’t be easy to regain the people’s trust.

While the Vaght Sobh advised that the people’s main issue is how economic problems are caused by government policies, which is why a significant proportion of the country will boycott the elections.

This is not out of the blue. In the parliamentary elections of February 2020, the officials recorded their lowest ever turnout, even though they’d hidden evidence about the pandemic to get people to come out and vote.

The Iranian opposition wrote: “Whether Khamenei gives the green light to the current candidates or takes the risk to nominate Raisi as his main candidate for the 2021 presidential elections is one issue to keep an eye on in the coming days.”

Iran Media Admits Cause to Economic Crisis

Hatred towards the Iranian ruling system has only increased due to the economic and social crises that the people have been battling over the past year, but rather than shy away from the truth, Iran’s state-run media are now admitting that these crises are caused by corruption and mishandling.

The ILNA News Agency wrote on April 16: “Until the last month of last year, inflation was rising. The shock therapy of the economy, which started from the beginning of 2018 until the last month of 2020, has accelerated rapidly and has drastically increased the minimum cost of living.”

The agency then quoted Iran’s Statistic Center as saying that goods have increased by 1.8% on average over the past month, with transport up 30% and basic foodstuffs up 25%.

But while the people live in poverty, those at the top of the governmental organisations are earning untold amounts, much more than the workers. In fact, while workers may earn $107, officials get over $1,000.

ILNA wrote: ”They do not have to worry about more expensive taxi rates or poultry prices. But workers have to always calculate the difference between their salaries, the inflation, and skyrocketing prices.”

And Mashreq News quoted Alireza Afshar, the head of the Soft War Institute of the Higher National Defense University, as saying that mismanagement has caused more economic problems than sanctions.

Of course, the Iranian people already know this. That’s why they chant “Our enemy is here, they lie when they say it is the US”.

After four decades of the mullahs’ rule, it is now clear that all Iranians opposed them, with the Jahan-e Sanat saying that “no one in Iran is satisfied” with the current ruling system and that the country is set for an explosion.

Even senior Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander Hamid Reza Jalaie-Pour said on April 16: “Our country is filled with dissatisfaction. They should be resolved, if not, they will condense, and there will be consequences for us.”

Jalaie-Pour also warned that the coming protests would far surpass those of 2018 and 2019, which shook the foundations of the clerical system in Iran.

He said: “We do not have a dialogue between the government and civil society. The consequences of revolutions are costly. This has created difficulties for the [system] in terms of legitimacy, participation, and efficiency.”

While the Etemad daily said that if people’s dissatisfactions and the issues within the system were not addressed then it will soon topple the ruling theocracy.

Iran 60% Enrichment, Upper or Lower Hand?

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, announced that the government is carrying out uranium enrichment at 60 percent purity.

“On Wednesday, we ordered the launch of 60 percent and 12.40 am (Friday) we got the 60 percent product. The product we are taking now is about 9 grams per hour. They are working on the arrangement of the chains, which reduces our production by 60 percent and may reach 5 to 6 grams. But with these two chains, we produce 20 percent at the same time.” (State-run daily Entekhab, April 16, 2021)

In this way the Iranian government has tighten the ring of the siege around its own throat, with the hope that with this venture, which is already failing, it would force the negotiators of the world powers to accept its demands, analysts say.

It seems that Iran’s government has taken this step in order to gain more concessions and has a full hand in the negotiations. The fact is that such an action, first, shows the emptiness of its hands having no cards in the negotiations, and was forced to take such a step.

More clearly said this was the regime’s last chance and solution to make an exit out of this siege, but such a move is not a step forward at all, while moving itself on the verge of a very dangerous precipice.

Fereydoun Majlisi, a retired government diplomat, said: “Iran’s action to increase enrichment to 60 percent is an act of anger and in response to the recent repeated explosions in Natanz. In fact, these actions are an invitation to war, and it is not clear how its fate will end.” (State-run Setareh-e-Sobh, April 14, 2021)

He went on to make his point more clearly: “Going to 60 percent enrichment is explicitly threatening to go to alarming percentages. In fact, by enriching it by more than 25 percent, which is needed for peaceful activities, you are sending a message to the world that you intend to go to alarming percentages. Of course, those who have repeatedly said they agree with the weapon and have spoken of the need to build and maintain it support this move.” (State-run Setareh-e-Sobh, April 14, 2021)

The regime’s move came after the initial speculation that the United States would lift sanctions and its verification by the regime had been dashed, with the United States announcing that it would only lift sanctions that were incompatible with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While it turned out that returning to the 2015 JCPOA was nothing more than an illusion, analysts believe. And the plan that is underway is to finally bring this regime to the brink of accepting missile and regional JCPOAs.

This issue has caused the frustration of the regime, and its supreme leader Ali Khamenei said about it: “[America’s proposal] is often arrogant and humiliating, we are even not able to look at.”

So, until now it is clear that the regime has the lower hand in the negotiations. It has only two ways to get out of this stagnation. One, to accept all the demands of the other party like the JCPOA of its missile arsenal and the JCPOA to stopping its actions in the Middle East, and the second solution is to disobey it and go in the opposite direction, which would have serious consequences like being included under Article 7 of the Charter of the United Nations.

The consequences of such a risk are also very clear. A state-run daily reported: “This move will definitely cause dissatisfaction and protest from the other side, and currents in the United States, Europe and the West Asian region will be activated to defeat the negotiations in order to put pressure on Iran. For example, they may use the trigger mechanism. Even greater destructive actions can be predicted. Maybe after this, acts should not be indirect and should be direct.” (Resalat, April 15, 2021)

With such a situation, talking about power and having the upper hand in the nuclear negotiations is just a joke. It can be said that taking steps to enrich 60 percent “is a threatening move intended to intimidate and gain concessions, and its use is limited to the same meeting and to advancing the negotiations.” (State-run daily Setareh-e-Sobh, April 14, 2021)

Unsolved Case of Ukraine’s Flight 752 Downed By Iran’s IRGC

Alexei Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, the overseer of the Ukrainian government’s investigation into the downing of the Ukrainian airliner in Iran by the regime’s Revolutionary Guards, said in a statement approved by the Foreign Ministry that he believed the Iranian regime had deliberately shot down the plane to possibly prevent a cycle of military tension with the United States.

The Globe and Mail quoting him wrote: “Iran does not allow anybody to examine this tragedy, and they postpone or slow down any investigations. The fact that they are investigating themselves is rather surprising, to it politely, he said in an interview at the NDSC headquarters in Kyiv.

He added: “When they say this was accidental… I don’t buy that. It was intentional. This was a conscious attack.”

Danilov said that when he traveled to Tehran after the plane crash, he expressed his opinion to his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani, but Shamkhani only assured him that his political faction was not involved in the plane crash.

He said: “when I was in Tehran talking to my counterpart, I asked him directly, ‘Why did you this?’ He gave me a very honest reply – that they were not interested in shooting down this plane, but that Iran was a country where different groups of influence exist. There are at least three different military groups under three different commands, including the Revolutionary Guards, but not only them.”

All 167 passengers and nine crew, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and 53 others who were travelling to Canada via Kyiv, were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot out of the sky on Jan. 8, 2020.

The Globe and Mail added: “The Government of Ukraine demands a fair and objective investigation by Iran into the causes of the tragedy, ‘Mr. Yenin said in response to e-mailed questions. ‘We don’t believe the version of human error until we see the evidence.’

“Mr. Yenin said Iran had refuse to tell Ukraine the names and ranks of the 10 people Iran says have been charged in connection with the disaster – or even what they were charged with. ‘They never co-operate in a proper manner with Ukraine, he said.”

The Deputy General Prosecutor of Ukraine Gunduz Mammadov accused the leaders of the Iranian regime of deliberately concealing the dimensions of this horrific crime and warned that Ukraine has the legal tools to establish justice and will definitely use them.

Mammadov that Ukraine has only been able to reach information from the media about the downing of the Tehran-Kiev passenger plane, but this information has been hidden in the context of official talks.

Before that, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry had accused the Iranian regime of manipulating information about an IRGC missile attack on its passenger plane. Ukraine has also stated that the Iranian regime has contradicted the final report on the destruction of the passenger plane.

It has been more than 14 months since the air strike by the Iranian regime‘s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the passenger plane of Flight 752 of the Ukrainian International Airlines. Nevertheless, the Iranian regime has avoided providing clear information about the cause of the missile attack on the passenger plane.

But this is not all, even after this crime Iran’s government is continuing its crime as the Canadian Intelligence and Security Agency says in its annual report that there are ‘credible reports’ of harassment of families and relatives of victims of the Ukrainian plane victims in Canada.

CBS Canadian media quoted the agency as saying that such actions could be an example of foreign intervention.

Iran’s Government Counts on Fiat Money

The Iranian government’s financial and Central Bank officials are now speaking about banknote printing in public. Because hiding the government’s financial problems does make any sense more.

Printing fiat money is a blow to the country’s money power and a systematic looting from the peoples’ wealth by the government. It will lead to a huge inflation in the country and have devastating effects on the country’s economy and its smog will burn the people’s eyes, experts say.

About printing fiat money and its reason, some officials said things that are interesting. The state-run daily Arman wrote: “The most important structural factor of inflation in the Iranian economy is the government’s budget deficit. Without the coronavirus crisis, the government’s budget deficit for this year was projected at 130 trillion tomans.

“Traditionally, the government’s budget deficit in the Iranian economy has been offset by the government taking over from the Central Bank, borrowing from the bank and printing banknotes, which increases the monetary base and liquidity, and ultimately has an inflationary effect.” (State-run daily Arman, April 12, 2021)

In March of this year Vahid Shaghaghi, one of the government’s economists, confessed about the government’s malign behavior and said: “In a situation where we are facing a high deficit, there is a double pressure on the resources of banks and the Central Bank, which results in a rial withdrawal from the National Development Fund, for printing banknotes. (State-run daily Arman, April 13, 2021)

Also, in this month, Abdul Nasser Hemmati, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, in an interview with the State TV Channel Three, announced the debt of 900 trillion tomans of 11 large debtors to the banking system. He confessed about the government’s malign activities to hide its banknote printing with tricks like ‘Currency exchange earnings’ and said: “In 2019 and 2020, parts of the government budget were financed through the National Development Fund’s foreign exchange earnings, which simply means printing money.” (ICANA, April 5, 2021)

Another trick that the government is using to wipe its trace of printing banknotes are the issuance and offer of government bonds. State-run daily Vatan-e-Emrouz on March 16, 2021 wrote: “Since early 2020, the government has issued and offered government bonds to finance the required materials of its budget. According to statistics released by the Central Bank, Treasury and the Ministry of Economy, the government has issued nearly 200 trillion tomans of debt securities since the beginning of this year. These bonds are generally issued with maturities of one to three years and their interest rate has been about 22 percent.”

Two days before this, Vahid Shaghaghi, an economist, wrote that the government’s borrowing from bank resources and selling government property could not cover its budget deficit and said:

“Realization of about 400 trillion tomans of government revenues in the budget depends on the sale of surplus property, shares of state-owned companies, financial and Islamic publications, and the provision of resources from these places is unlikely next year.

“The government does not have the capacity to issue this number of shares and issue financial and Islamic securities, so we will have a high operating balance deficit.”

“In a situation where we are facing a high deficit, there is a double pressure on the resources of banks and the Central Bank, which results in a rial withdrawal from the National Development Fund. And since the reserves in the fund are very limited, we know that any withdrawal from the National Development Fund will be a printing of money.” (State-run daily Arman, March 14, 2021)

The immediate result of the government’s corrupt actions in borrowing from bank resources, and the increase in the exchange rate in 2020, was taking from the people and a dramatically increase in inflation and the price of goods.

In 2020, the inflation of vegetable oil was reported to be about 150 percent, and legumes such as lentils, peas and chickpeas doubled in their price. This shows that the consumer goods in the household basket also faced a significant increase in prices in 2020. After these goods, in the next ranks are butter, soft drinks and machine eggs. It seems that some households have eliminated the consumption of some of these foods due to the high inflation of these goods. Excluding certain foods such as eggs or legumes will cause food poverty for households, especially in low-income deciles.” (Donya-e-Eghtesad, April 11, 2021)

Given that in this year the government still needs to turn to the printing of banknotes, the result is nothing but inflation and deepening poverty in society.

On inflation, the state-run daily Jahan-e-Sanat on April 12, 2021 wrote: “We are still at the beginning of the year and it is not clear what will happen in the coming months. However, it is predicted that the average inflation rate in 2021 will be higher than the inflation in 2020. It is speculated that high inflation will hit the economy this year and given that income levels have not adjusted in line with inflation over the past few years, people will be under severe inflationary pressure.”

Execution Record Under Rouhani Demonstrates Meaninglessness of “Moderation” in Iran

On Tuesday, the organization Iran Human Rights published a 120-page report, co-authored by Together Against the Death Penalty, detailing the usage of capital punishment in Iran since the election of President Hassan Rouhani. The report noted a significant increase in the total number of executions compared to the period overseen by Rouhani’s avowedly hardline predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The findings seemingly reinforce the conclusion that many Iranian dissidents and human rights activists made immediately after the current president took office in 2013, namely that expectations of reform under his leadership were groundless.

Rouhani’s election came as a surprise to many observers of Iranian affairs, given that he was not the favored candidate of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or any other powerful hardline official. This in turn led some commentators to describe the 2013 election as a partial vindication of Green Movement from four year earlier, which emerged grew out of disputes regarding Ahmadinejad’s supposed election. But underlying the expressions of surprise was recognition of the fact that clerical authorities wield tight control over the electoral process, particularly via the Guardian Council’s power to bar undesirable candidates.

Dissident groups like the National Council of Resistance of Iran highlighted this feature of the ruling system in order to argue that if Rouhani’s election was, at best, a concession in name only. Many of Rouhani’s early supporters seemed to embrace this conclusion during his first term in office, which was marked by inaction on virtually all of the progressive talking points that had defined his campaign.

It is generally understood that when the Islamic Republic holds its next presidential election in June, Rouhani’s successor will be drawn from the hardline faction that is closely associated with Khamenei and the regime’s paramilitary force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Some Western policymakers have expressed concern over the impact this transition may have on negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program. But Tehran has already taken a distinctly hardline position on the status of the 2015 agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and Rouhani has personally insisted that the US must remove all sanctions before Iran takes any steps back toward compliance with the restrictions that deal imposed.

Of course, the deal itself was harshly derided by some Western policymakers as well as by representatives of Iran’s regional adversaries. Skepticism about the regime’s supposed moderation under Rouhani’s nominal leadership helped to drive the US withdrawal, in May 2018, under then-President Donald Trump. His successor, Joe Biden, has signaled willingness to rejoin the pact, but the two sides are recognizably at an impasse and the European signatories are struggling to achieve a breakthrough before Rouhani is replaced.

The potential implications for the JCPOA are unclear, but what is even less clear is what, if any, practical impact Rouhani’s exit will have on domestic affairs in the Islamic Republic. The recent report on capital punishment raises the possibility that a “hardline” presidency could actually coincide with a downturn in certain indicators such as the number of executions. More to the point, the report reinforces the NCRI’s position that the political affiliation of leading figures is irrelevant as long as the existing system of government remains in place. In recent years, that position has been publicly embraced by large numbers of Iranian citizens, via their participation in at least three nationwide uprisings that featured slogans such as, “Hardliners and reformists: the game is over!”

The first of those uprisings took place in December 2017 and January 2018, and encompassed well over 100 cities and towns. A subsequent uprising in November 2019 saw participation in nearly 200 localities and also led to perhaps the most severe political repression since the 1980s. In a matter of only days, the Revolutionary Guards fatally shot approximately 1,500 people, while another 12,000 were arrested. Many of those arrestees were subjected to torture over a period of weeks and months, and a full accounting of the death toll may never been known.

Naturally, deaths from shooting incidents and torturous interrogation are not counted in the official tally of the regime’s executions. This goes to show that the difference in scale of government-sanctioned killing under Ahmadinejad and Rouhani may be even greater than the Iran Human Rights report suggests. While acknowledging that all Iranian death penalty statistics are estimates, the report concludes that 3,327 people were hanged during eight years of the Ahmadinejad administration, and about 4,050 have been hanged so far during Rouhani’s. This breaks down to an average of 35 executions per month in the first place, and 45 per month in the second.

This is contrary to what one might expect if one were to focus solely on news that comports with Rouhani’s moderate public image. In 2017, the Iranian parliament changed the law to allow for lesser sentences in the case of non-violent drug crimes that traditionally accounted for the majority of the country’s executions. This should have led to a precipitous drop in annual death penalty statistics, but in reality the drop-off was modest and was preceded by an especially prolific period of executions.

What’s more, the number of hangings soon began to rise again, owing both to capricious application of the parliamentary reform and to an increase in the pace of implementation for other types of death sentences, including sentences for political charges like “enmity against God” and “spreading corruption on earth.” Iran Human Rights Monitor recently reported that after a 20-day pause in hangings around the time of the Iranian New Year holiday, Nowruz, the Iranian judiciary implemented at least 14 capital sentences during a one-week period.

Although Iran Human Rights acknowledged that the judiciary is technically independent of the presidency, it also emphasized that this does not necessarily absolve the president of responsibility for the overall pace of execution or other forms of corporal punishment. At no point since he took office has Rouhani lived up to his moderate credentials by urging clemency or speaking out publicly against instances of politically motivated execution or execution for crimes that do not rise to the international standard for “most serious.”

Although it is virtually certain that Rouhani’s successor will be similarly deferent to the judiciary and to other hardline authorities, the final months of his eight year administration will most likely reinforce one legacy ahead of all others: confirmation that a moderate public image makes little to no practical difference where the character of an official in the Islamic Republic of Iran is concerned.