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Iran’s People Looted by the Government’s ETF Funds

The bright future envisioned in Iran for ETFs, or state-owned investment funds, was nothing more than a mirage like other capital market shares, and the situation has reached a point where funds that were supposed to bring justice to the people and be profitable are at a loss, that the buyers of this fund have been included in the list of credit losers and it is a question of how to compensate their losses.

The rise of the capital market was close to the peak, when Iran’s looting government promised to offer three government funds in the form of ETFs, and it was decided that the first fund should be in the form of banking and insurance, the second should in the form of refining and the third fund should be in the form of car and metal funds.

The government planned to market the rest of its stake in some banks, insurance companies, refineries, automobile, and steel companies, thereby transferring its shares to the public. These funds were given to the people with a 20 to 30 percent discount, and any Iranian with a national identity number could be able to buy them.

In this regard, the first fund called Dara Yekom was launched in early summer of last year and was comparable on the third of July. In fact, through this transfer, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, on behalf of the Government the regime, transferred its remaining shares in Mellat Banks, Trade and Export of Iran, and Alborz Insurance and Amin Reliance.

More than four million people participated in the underwriting of the fund. The fund, which was in line with the rising days of the capital market, had a significant return and went up to 200 percent profit.

Profitability of the Dara Yekom was to such an extent, that even with a significant drop in the overall stock index from two million units to 1.1 million units, the fund is still in profit.

Accordingly, the price of each unit of the Dara Yekom on the day of release was 10,000tomans and each unit of this fund was more than 13.500 tomans on May 2, 2021.

But the fate of the Palayashi Yekom (First Refinery fund) was quite different from that of the Dara Yekom. The Passion and excitement about the Dara Yekom were still high were the government decided to offer the Palayeshi Fund (the remaining government shares in the four refineries in Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan, and Bandar Abbas).

This time, the Ministry of Oil was the other side of the story, and the supply of the Palayeshi fund started with the disagreement between the Ministry of Oil and the Ministry of Economy and became an excuse for the market to collapse. The fund was launched, but at the same time the market collapsed.

So the price of each unit of this fund reached 5000 Tomans, which is half the price of the starting day of its offer. These days, the sales queues of this fund are still persisting, and each unit of this fund is priced at 7,000 Tomans.

Now the situation has reached a point where the Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to compensate the people who bought the ETF in order to revive the market and perhaps restore public confidence in the stock market.

But this is just an illusion because the people’s money has been lost and mostly extracted by the government’s officials and brokers. Usually, people do not expect to lose money in dealing with the government, and on the other hand, the government, like any other publisher, must support the stock it has offered for up to a year so that the share price does not fall below the daily price.

Iran’s Government Fears a ‘Second Field’

Social exclusion is the process in which individuals are blocked from the various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration and observance of human rights within that particular group, like housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, and democratic participation.

The outcome of social exclusion is that affected individuals or communities are prevented from participating fully in the economic, social, and political life of the society in which they live.

In Iran this has become an extreme disaster and a ticking bomb. The expansion of this is directly related to the increase in land, housing and rent prices in the country.

Marginalization in Iran grew greatly due to the imbalance of urban areas. The lack of balance in urban areas leads to the polarization of cities. When rising prices in real estate and other living essentials occur, people move to the marginal points of large cities, due to their financial capability, so that the opportunity of a living for this people is not eliminated. The marginalization in Iran faces the least number of services and infrastructure.

Marginalization is very common in metropolitan areas and the population of marginalized people in Iran is very high. Lack of water resources, living along rivers, successive droughts, natural disasters, floods and earthquakes, the destruction of homes, lack of security, especially in border cities, are some of the reasons for migrating to booming cities. But the most important reason is the government’s corruption and mismanagement of the country, which has thrown more than half of the population under the poverty line. Living facilities on the outskirts of Iran are very scarce and in a deplorable state.

In an interview published by the state-run website Faraz News, the Managing Director of Welfare, Services and Social Participation Organization of Tehran Municipality about the situation in Tehran and around this city said:

“The root of many social harms is migration to big cities, especially Tehran.”

In this article, Vali Ismaili the deputy chairman of the parliament’s social commission said: “Certainly, the lack of facilities and the lack of unbalanced growth and development has led to the marginalization of provincial capitals today, especially Tehran, and the current policy cannot answer these problems. Marginalization does not have good result, and the result of marginalization is the problems that we refer to them as social harms.”

Seyed Malek Hosseini, Managing Director of the Welfare, Services and Social Participation Organization of Tehran Municipality, said: “The gap created is not only in this city and we should know that there is a gap between the center and the periphery in other provinces between the center of the province and the surrounding cities too, but this difference is much greater due to the imbalance of Tehran’s population with the size of the area to live.”

He added: “Interestingly is that five percent of the residential area of ​​Tehran is in a dilapidated area, and in this five percent, more than 15 percent of its population live there, which means more than 1.2 million people. And the facilities are not well distributed. And we certainly have certain problems in the field of social harms.”

Hosseini about the municipality’s budget said that they are not receiving any budget from the government and said: “We have a serious legal challenge that decision-makers and legislators must address.”

Finally, he warned the government: “If the immigration problem is not solved, it seems that we are ready to contain the broken dam with a bucket in hand, which is not an answer.” (Faraz News, May 2, 2021)

In another article published by the state-run website Shoma News written by Ali Heydari, Member and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Social Security Organization, about the latest events around the newly-revealed audio tape of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, aiming and speaking about the two expressions “Field” (Strategical action outside the country) and “Diplomacy” (Foreign affairs) he warned the government that this should not be the only one concern, and there is a more serious and worried concern which he called a “second field” (the society) and added:

“It is very clear that poverty (food, education, insurance, housing, etc.) and inequality or even feeling them, unemployment, social harm, lack of minimum living, inability to meet basic needs, severe decline in purchasing power, etc. can affect the roles and functions of government and diplomacy and the field. However, when the executive forces (the executive branch and the collective heads of diplomacy) and the military forces (the field) face and fight outside the borders, they should be secure from their back and behind the front.

“Lack of a comprehensive and multi-layered centralized system of social security and failure to meet the basic needs of people in general and target groups and strata in particular, and especially uncertainty about the future and the fate of livelihood, health etc. the head of family and individuals under his tutelage, he can create the ground for special and occasional recruitment of enemies inside the country, which leads to espionage, sabotage, security leaks, etc., and on a more general level, it can lead to public recruitment by enemies and decreased social capital and social trust or lead to protests, riots and social unrest.”

“What has happened in practice, despite the fact that in the past, different governments have not been able to achieve full success in fulfilling this inherent duty and legal mission, and unfortunately the problem of poverty, inequality, social harm, social anomalies, unemployment, educational poverty (deprivation of education), residential poverty (lack of adequate real estate or rented housing), food poverty and malnutrition, insurance poverty (lack of basic insurance coverage for pensions and unemployment, etc.) have not been eradicated in the country and sometimes we are facing obvious and gross poverty.”

Warning about the marginalization and ticking areas around the cities which according to him number around 2020 regions in Iran, he added:

“This shortcoming which means not eradicating poverty, inequality, deprivation and social harm in certain neighborhoods of cities, and regions that during different periods and from different perspectives and according to the view of the executive body which prepares the reports are recognized under different titles such as slums, deprived, marginalized, informal settlements, vulnerable, high-risk, out-of-bounds, worn-out area, historical area, etc., which in any case, the obvious feature of these neighborhoods is the occurrence of severe figures of poverty and harm, and they are a source for the harmed people and, unfortunately, the gathering of mighty and poor and the downtrodden, harmed people who are scattered in such neighborhoods, many residents over the are trapped in poverty and harm, and more tragically, poverty and harm in these families become generational and cyclical, and we experience a cycle of regression of fall to lower levels.” (Shoma News, May 3, 2021)

Iran Expats Call for UN Investigation of 1988 Massacre

Iranian expatriates have written United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to once again urge the international organisation to investigate the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, following reports of the authorities latest efforts to destroy the mass grave in Tehran’s Khavaran Cemetery where some of the victims lie.

The letter reads: “The Iranian public and all human rights defenders expect the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council, to launch an investigation into the massacre of political prisoners and summon the perpetrators of this heinous crime before the International Court of Justice.”

It points out that the government has already “destroyed or damaged” mass graves of the 1988 victims in cities like Ahvaz, Tabriz, and Mashhad, even concreting over the gravesites and building parks, roads, and commercial property. It further advises that the destruction of graves and suppression of public discourse is an ongoing crime against humanity because it psychologically (and sometimes physically) tortures survivors and victims’ relatives.

The signatories are relatives of those slaughtered for their membership in the opposition group the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Following a fatwa from then-supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini, MEK members held on political charges were brought before “death commissions” and given one-minute trials where they were asked if they still supported the MEK. If they said yes, as almost all did, then they were sent to the gallows.

It was an effort to destroy the group, which were and still are the most prominent and widely supported critics of the theocracy in Iran, but it did not work because the Iranian people believe in democracy, not authoritarianism, so they overwhelmingly support the MEK.

That’s why the 2017 and 2019 protests against the ruling system echoed calls long made by the MEK about how regime change is needed because the ruling theocracy will not change internally. Even the authorities have since admitted that the protests are linked to support for the MEK and this terrifies the mullahs. It’s why they ordered a crackdown that resulted in 1,500 protesters being shot dead in the streets in November 2019, while thousands more were injured and arrested.

Iran’s critics have long pointed to the crackdowns on protesters as evidence that the government believes it has impunity for domestic human rights violations, as a result of a lack of international action regarding the 1988 massacre. While the international community is now taking small steps to hold Tehran accountable, the destruction of these graves could prevent anyone from being brought to justice.

That’s why the UN must step in and investigate now before it is too late.

In addition to these event, at the initiative of the International Committee for Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran, more than 150 former UN officials, international experts and reputable non-governmental organizations wrote a letter to the UN Secretary-General, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, High Commissioner for Human Rights, President of the Human Rights Council, Members of the Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the General Assembly and UN rapporteurs, and called for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry into the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. In an inhumane fatwa, Khomeini (the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran) ordered the massacre of all Mojahedin (MEK) prisoners at any stage of their judicial file.

The signatories called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet (former President of Chile), to support the establishment of a fact-finding commission.

The signatories called on the UN Human Rights Council to end the impunity for criminals in Iran by setting up a fact-finding commission on large-scale extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances.

Nearly 70m Iranians Can’t Afford Rice

Nearly 70 million people in Iran cannot afford rice following price increases, according to the secretary of the Rice Importers Association, which is terrible for nutrition because nothing is taking its place.

This is the case for 67 million Iranians in the middle, working, and impoverished classes, according to the state-run Shahrvand Online website, which did not mention that 80% of Iranians live below the poverty line.

In an interview with Shahrvand Online on Monday, the secretary said: “At a time that the price of protein products such as meat, poultry, and eggs is also not good, the reduction of rice consumption is not good at all. Climate changes and the possible decline in the current year can render conditions worse than they already are, and with rice becoming even more expensive, it might disappear from the people’s diet at an even faster rate.”

And Donya-e-Eghtesad on May 5, 2021, wrote: “Rice prices have risen in recent weeks. As field studies show, one of the main reasons for this increase in the market is the deposition of 100,000 tons of this product in the country’s ports and customs. This price fluctuation has mostly affected Iranian rice, which has no result other than the shrink of the people’s table. Due to the lack of supply, Iranian rice has undergone changes that have nothing to do with household income.”

It is easy predictable that in the ocean of Iran’s government’s corruption everything is possible as the state-run news agency ISNA said about the reason of this event: “Rice sellers conspire to store rice and do not sell it to increase its price, which must be dealt with.” (ISNA, April 19, 2021)

But the truth is that in a corrupted government nothing is dealt with.

How much has rice gone up?

Well, foreign rice, which is popular amongst the middle and working classes because it is cheaper than Iranian rice, used to be 80,000 rials per kilogram, compared with 260,000-300,000 rials per kilogram for Iranian rice, according to the RIA secretary.

The state-run Eghtesad News website, also publishing on Monday, which has these costs listed as an average of 103,000 rials per kilogram for foreign rice and 239,000 rials per kilogram for Iranian rice, explained that foreign rice now costs 245,000 rials per kilogram, which is a 137% increase compared to this time last year, while the cost of Iranian rice increased to 354,000 rials per kilogram. The outlet said that sometimes the cost of rice is as much as 435,000 rials per kilogram.

The increase in price is partly down to the pandemic’s knock-on effect on the economy but more widely is related to Tehran’s failed economic policies that have increased inflation and tanked the rial’s value.

The Iranian Resistance wrote: “This large price increase happens at a time that most of the Iranian population is already living under the poverty line and are struggling to procure their most basic needs. The poverty line for many areas of the country has surpassed 10 million rials per month. Meanwhile, many worker families earn no more than 2.5 million rials and are hard-pressed to put food on their families’ tables.”

The dire and falling economic conditions resulted in protests in various cities across the country by many different groups – pensioners, farmers, workers, and government employees – over the past few weeks.

The Confusing Clutter of the JCPOA and Iran’s Hasty Begging

For the Iranian government and its officials, the Vienna negotiations about a new Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, seem to have no result other than more disputes among officials.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said about the negotiations: “You see, in the nuclear issue, he (Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei) has announced the framework. He has specified it, and we are acting according to the same framework.” (State TV, April 28, 2021)

Abbas Araghchi, political deputy at Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed optimism about the talks without saying what they have achieved so far, but others mainly the principlists within the clerical establishment, have contradicted him, saying that the government has achieved nothing.

Rouhani sees the JCPOA negotiations as the only solution to escape from all the regime’s crises, so he and his government are doing anything to revive the JCPOA: “Everyone should know that without a relationship with the world, progress cannot be made, and a country cannot be built.” (President.ir, April 26, 2021)

Angry about the government’s ‘begging’, one of the regime’s MPs Mahmoud Nabavian said: “Mr. Rouhani and Mr. [Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif, answer this logical question, you honestly tell the people of Iran how many times you have brought the step-by-step plan to the Supreme National Security Council and it has been rejected. Why do you bring the step-by-step plan?” (State TV Ofogh channel, April 22, 2021)

A member of Khamenei’s faction expressed his pessimism about the lifting of all the sanctions and said: “I do not see the sanctions being lifted, and if the nuclear-related are lifted, the same issues will continue with another label, including the missile debate, including the Yemen debate.” (Jam-e-Jam, April 22, 2021)

And the state-run website Rahbord-e-Moaser desperate about the result of the JCPOA’s negotiations said: “The fact of the matter is that the United States has very little legal maneuvering power in the process of returning to the JPCOA.

“The White House, on the other hand, clearly knows that ‘reviving the JCPOA’ and ‘retaining some of the sanctions’ are not legally and technically compatible. White House officials have therefore sought to ‘segregate sanctions’ with the aim of achieving a ‘useless return to JCPOA’ feature.

“Obviously, the claim of the US State Department officials has no legal basis. The Democrats now have a relative majority in the US Congress (Senate and House of Representatives), and beyond that, Biden himself can lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, citing his special powers.

“However, Robert Malley and other US officials now based in Vienna have sent a message to Iran and the P4 + 1 that the new US president must be accountable to Republicans and even some of his democratic party members in the process of returning to the JCPOA. Biden cannot therefore put on the agenda an ‘absolute return to the JCPOA,’ but Iran must return to its ‘full commitments’ in the nuclear deal.

“Undoubtedly, what is happening in Vienna today is the revealing point of the ‘Western instrumental view to the JCPOA’. This instrumental view has shown itself in various titles and excuses since 2016 (when the JCPOA was implemented). It is not clear why some currents insist that Washington is seeking to ‘repent of its past’ and ‘return to the JCPOA which is deformed’!

“The segregation of sanctions against Iran by US State Department officials is the first broken brick in the formal process of ‘reviving the JCPOA’, which makes the future of the nuclear deal a hundred times more ambiguous than it already is. This ‘ridiculous and illegal division’ should not be accepted by our country, because it will leave the United States free to ‘play with the titles of sanctions’ now and in the future. This is exactly what the United States and the European Troika have been looking for, for months.” (State-run website Rahbord-e-Moaser, April 30, 2021)

This short text shows that many inside the regime are desperate and see no bright future with or without the JCPOA.

Fearing the consequences of the upcoming presidential election which by the regime’s bad luck coincides with the window of opportunity to revive the nuclear deal, a state-run daily said:

“In the run-up to Iran’s presidential election, the United States is trying to manage the psychological climate in such a way that it can impose a bad deal on Iran while interfering and influencing the election results. The US targeting is due to the fact that it is likely that some in Iran, due to the short-term need and in the run-up to the elections, will again make decisions based on the dangerous rule of ‘any agreement is better than no agreement’.

“Such a view of negotiation and haste in concluding it, due to neglection of the important dimensions and details of the lifting of sanctions, will narrow the window of Iran’s economic benefit from any outcome.” (Resalat, April 28, 2021)

It is very clear that Rouhani’s efforts for a hasty agreement are due to the deadlock and the incurable situation in the illusion that this agreement can save the entire regime from the blade of public hatred.

April Human Rights Report for Iran

At the end of every month, Iran Human Rights Monitor puts together a report on the human rights situation in Iran. We’ve condensed the findings into this article, but the full report is always important to read, even if it’s hard.

Over April, the officials have continued executions, torture, corporal punishment, the suppression of marginalised groups, and the cover-up surrounding the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. Let’s look at those in more detail.

Executions

At least 25 people were executed in Iran in April; 14 for drug-related offences, even though that isn’t a capital crime under international law, and two for charges unknown, which raises speculation about their crimes.

Meanwhile, two prisoners – Yusef Mehrdad and Seyyed Sadrollah Fazeli Zare – were sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet”.

Arbitrary killings

On a related note, at least five people were killed by the police without arrest or trial, while 11 were injured. The security forces have a long history of this and there are daily reports of border porters being killed or injured.

Torture and cruel and unusual punishment

The Iranian Judiciary handed out 15 or more flogging sentences, mainly to ethnic minorities and student activists. Meanwhile, two women, including cyber activist Zohreh Sarv, were lashed.

Additionally, state security forces punished 34 men for attending the fire festival by parading them through the streets to humiliate them.

Discrimination

The authorities increased pressure on religious minorities throughout April, including:

  • Arresting three Christian converts – Esmael Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi, and Alireza Varak Shah –and searching their homes
  • Sentencing Christian convert Hamed Ashouri to 10 months of prison
  • Arresting over 36 Baha’i citizens
  • Expelling Isfahan University student Sina Shakib for his Baha’i faith
  • Raiding the homes of many Baha’i citizens
  • Denying the Baha’i community the ability to bury their dead in Khavaran cemetery unless they bury them on top of the mass grave of political prisoners from 1988

The 1988 Massacre

On that note, officials attempted to destroy the mass grave in order to hide the evidence of the massacre. This is the latest in a long line of mass grave sites that have been destroyed by the ruling theocracy to evade justice.

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “As well as causing further pain and anguish to the already persecuted Baha’i minority by depriving them of their rights to give their loves ones a dignified burial in line with their religious beliefs, Iran’s authorities are wilfully destroying a crime scene.”

Iranian Government Versus Working Class

The Iranian government is built on the suppression of the working class, so its legitimacy must be measured by how this group is feeling and they feel it’s time for regime change.

On May 1, which is International Workers’ Day, workers took to the streets in protest and made it clear how they felt about the upcoming presidential election with the overarching chants of “We will not vote, we’ve heard too many lies” and “Every worker must boycott the elections”.

Here are some of the other common slogans that were spread all across the country this weekend:

  • [The government] is lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here
  • We will only get our rights in the streets
  • Arise workers, destroy the palace of the tyrant
  • Freedom, justice, livelihood, the right of the whole nation
  • Death to the oppressor, peace to the worker
  • Worker! Worker! Speak out and demand your rights
  • How long will we hear lies and deceit?  We will not back down
  • The enemy of the workers is this corrupt government
  • If one [government-involved] embezzlement is reduced, our problems will be solved
  • No nation has seen this much injustice
  • The insurance organization betrays [worker] and the parliament supports it
  • Shame on our national TV

It’s no wonder that Iranian workers feel this way. After all,  the authorities’ corrupt policies have plundered the Iranian people repeatedly over the past 40 years, which is why the people rose up in nationwide protests in 2017 and 2019.

The government is eager to keep the populace calm ahead of the elections, to get as many of them to vote as possible, because even if it won’t make a difference to the lives of Iranians, it will legitimise the ruling theocracy on the world stage. These protests threaten the authorities’ hope for a high voter turnout, especially when the same slogans are being chanted by other groups as well, including retirees and defrauded investors.

The Farhikhtegan daily newspaper wrote Sunday: “A 43-per cent decrease in purchasing power, a 123-year wait to buy a house in Tehran, and a rise in workers’ consumer prices of up to 500 per cent… Do not think that these four characteristics, which indicate the workers’ hard living conditions, apply to a class with a population of two or three million. According to statistics and Article 2 of the Labor Law, at least 15 million of the working population can be called workers.”

The Arman state-daily on May 2, 2021 about the workers poverty said: “Despite the fact that the Central Bank states that the poverty line is 10 million Tomans this year, the basic wages of workers will be set at 2 million 650 thousand Tomans after the whole bargaining by the representatives of workers and employers, which is 400% away from the declared minimums.”

New Uprising in Iran?

Protests are increasing in size and scale in Iran, leading many in the ruling system and in the opposition to speculate that a new uprising is coming. Indeed, this is something that the government has feared since the first nationwide protests broke out in December 2017, but despite attempts to quell the protests, the people have continued their acts of defiance as part of a campaign for regime change, even throughout the pandemic, although understandably tempered.

In March, opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said that lower levels of protest would not last long, even though the government  had hoped that a failure to control the pandemic would stop any uprising from taking place and ensure their continued power. (This despite the officials having more than enough money to help the people through the pandemic, if only officials would stop lining their pockets or supporting terrorists.)

The recent protests

People from every walk of life have come out to protest in the streets over the authorities’ economic policies, which have been damaging to ordinary people, especially during the pandemic. Here is just a small snapshot of those who’ve protested en-masse in 2021:

  • Pensioners, over not being paid enough to get by on
  • investors, over a government scheme that essentially allowed insider to fleece the people
  • rural farmers, over how the regime’s private sector connections resulted in farmers’ rights being marginalised

The Iranian Resistance wrote: “The past year’s relative lull in activity suggests that the pandemic was the only thing that could provide the regime with any cover from public outrage. But the ongoing pensioner protests and the new demonstrations from investors, farmers, and other groups suggest that this effect is running its course. Now, with the Iranian regime’s sham presidential election looming, the expressions of economic grievance are beginning to take on broader political messaging, much like they did at the beginning of 2018.”

The protesters have been echoing calls by the Resistance for a boycott of the elections to show that the ruling theocracy is illegitimate. The Resistance Units are publicising that call across the country by putting up posters of Rajavi and graffiti featuring slogans denouncing the elections and arguing that the authorities cannot bring an end to the problems it caused.

The most popular slogan is “My vote is for regime change”, which was making the rounds in February 2020 ahead of the parliamentary elections that the Resistance also called for a boycott of. Those elections had the lowest voter turnout in Iran’s history.

How the Pandemic Made Iran’s Economic Situation Worse

Iranians are suffering the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, even as many countries are coming out the other side with mass vaccinations, due to the ineptitude of the mullahs.

Not only are the people facing one of the highest death tolls in the world, but the health crisis has exacerbated the existing economic crisis and increased the number of Iranians living in poverty.

Even the state-run media is acknowledging this, with the Arman daily writing Sunday that “the working class is being crushed under the pressure of economic and livelihood problems”, including a “tsunami” of unemployment.

They wrote: “today [workers are] grappling with numerous livelihood problems and the unemployment. Because no one heard their voices at the beginning of the pandemic, due to [the officials] wrong policies in adjusting salaries with inflation, working incidents, etc.”

The paper admits that “hundreds of thousands of workers” have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, while “tens of thousands” of hourly-wage staff in the service sector were deprived of even “the minimum unemployment insurance benefits”. Some companies even made their employees take unpaid leave during the pandemic. And none of this takes into account the “7 million unknown workers” that labour activists say are working without being officially registered, which means that they are denied any sort of benefit or protection.

It said that 60% of Iranians were in poverty prior to the pandemic and that this has increased because the authorities failed to take the necessary steps to protect the people.

Arman daily wrote: “Currently, the food poverty line is 670,000 tomans per person. If you consider a family of three with the minimum wage, many working families are below the poverty line or at the border of the food poverty line.”

Meanwhile, the Mostaghel daily wrote on Monday that the coronavirus situation in Iran is so bad that people can’t even be admitted to the hospital

Mostaghel wrote: “Wealthy countries were able to declare serious lockdown, developed support schemes.  On the contrary, in backward countries, slogans, destructive competition, depth of dictatorship, managerial incompetence, corruption, concealment of facts, and discrimination developed to the point that private hospitals and clinics openly refused to admit patients with medical, security, social services, and even supplementary insurance.”

It further warned officials that another uprising is on the horizon, with the possibility that this could see the ruling system thrown from power, especially now that Iran is so isolated on the international stage.

The paper wrote: “The one-dimensional view of danger should not blind our eyes to other dangers. We should not overlook the danger of discontent and revolt of the people.”

Iran’s Desperate Government Makes Big Mistakes

One of the main news in Iran last week was the leaked audio file from the regime’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who frankly discussed the behind-the-scenes maneuvers by the regime.

This file has stirred hot debates in the ruling body, many of the officials especially from the Zarif’s rival faction the regime’s principlists called him a traitor and asked for his trial.

As the regime is trapped between the upcoming presidential election and its nuclear case, many experts said that the revelation of this tape is because of the supreme leader’s decision to expunge the so-called reformist faction in the hope to get rid of them and have the possibility to deal with the social consequences of the election, because the regime as many of them are saying no longer has the capacity to tolerate two crises.

But as it shows this was a huge mistake and has big security and strategical consequences for the regime, which are not ending even after a week, since the revelation of this tape.

The state-run website Tabnak about this security and strategical mistake on May 2, 2021 wrote: “The introduction of the words ‘diplomacy’ and ‘field’ (referring to the regime’s interference outside the country) into the country’s political literature and the formation of a sharp confrontation between the two are considered to be the most important outcome of the publication of this audio file from a hostile medium (referring to Iran International).”

About the regime’s two main challenges, it added: “According to many experts, the release of this file coincides with the intensive holding of the Vienna talks and also on the eve of the formation of the electoral atmosphere in the country, is to disrupt Iran’s important nuclear deal with major world powers.

“On the one hand, the incomplete publication of this interview in the midst of negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal (JCPOA) with the aim of activating JCPOA’s staunch opponents inside the country to confront some politicians with the diplomacy team and bobtailing the negotiations, and the creation of the dual of the ‘field’ and ‘diplomacy’ can be considered as the main action against national interest and made this hypothesis more prominent than other hypotheses.

“On the other hand, since gaining power at any cost, even if it undermines national interests, has infiltrated the country’s political arena, the simultaneous publication of this file on the eve of the most important political and social event of the Islamic Republic is followed by two goals; disappointing of the people about the outcome of the ballot box and the induction of its ineffectiveness in decision-making processes, and it is not unexpected that part of the political current will benefit from the reduction of popular participation at the ballot box in order to gain power.”

“But certainly, regardless of whether the release of the audio file of the head of the country’s diplomatic apparatus was done in order to achieve any of the aforementioned goals, the main loser in this field is the national interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Because achieving any of the goals behind this destructive action – whether the goal is to reduce participation or to thwart the JCPOA negotiations – will mean nothing more than slaughtering the national interests of the country.” (Tabnak, May 2, 2021)

Another state-run website Quds Online has showed the regime’s fear about these two main concerns very clearly. In an article entitled “A strategic mistake and its consequences” on May 2, 2021, it attacked Zarif and wrote:

“This bitter event has two aspects to consider. Firstly, how this audio file become public and secondly, the strategic mistake of the Minister of foreign affairs, which is more important than the first one.

“Doesn’t Mr. Zarif know that these remarks during the nuclear talks, which are aimed at lifting sanctions, will weaken Iran’s relations with its strategic allies such as Russia? Wouldn’t a ruthless expression against the strategy of resistance (referring to the regime’s meddling in the Middle East) be a pretext for the enemy to exploit from it?

“The evidence for this claim is exactly [former US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo’s tweet. He wrote: ‘Our Administration’s exquisite strike on Qasem Soleimani had a massive impact on Iran and the Middle East. You don’t have to take my word for it. Ask @JZarif.’

“In fact, Zarif’s multi-hour interview sent a message of discord on the home front and the conflict between ‘field’ and ‘diplomacy.’ Unfortunately, Zarif speaks against the basic principles of foreign policy and national security.

“Bipolarization or shaping false dichotomies is the scenario of the pro-Western current in the run-up to the elections. This approach was first introduced with the dichotomies wheel of economy-centrifuge in the 2013 election. Over the years, government officials have repeatedly evoked dichotomies such as negotiation and war, interaction and confrontation in society to avoid accountability.

“From this point of view, Zarif’s remarks are exactly the desired spark of the pro-Western current for the polarization of the field and diplomacy in society. That is, the false dualization of the wheel of livelihood and the wheel of resistance in the 2021 elections.” (State-run website Quds Online, May 2, 2021)

There many like these two articles speaking about this event and its consequences but what important is that they all are pointing to the two main regime’s concerns, the upcoming election and the nuclear deal negotiations which can each be the first spark of protests of a starving nation, which does not care about any of them.