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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.

Iran’s Government Has Just $4 Billion in Gross Official Reserves

Three day ago, the International Monetary Fund reported about Iran’s economic situation and pointed to its “gross official reserves.”

“These reserves have fallen from $122.5 billion in 2018 to $4 billion in 2019,” wrote the state-run daily Entekhab, on April 12, 2021.

This report pictured a wider image of the tensity of the country’s economic crisis. About the gross official reserves, this report added that from 2000 to 2018 Iran had $71 billion in its reserves. This reached its highest point in 2018 with $122.5 billion but experienced an expedited fall in that period. In one year, these reserves shrank to $12.4 billion and in 2020 it fell to $4 billion.

The Iranian government has other reserves too, which of course are blocked because of the sanctions and are out of the hands of the government. These reserves reach an amount of $36 billion, and the government was expected to have access to them as a positive result of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiations.

But now the entire amount of the reserves is only $40 billion, which are accessible. The Iranian government has used more than $82 billion of these reserves for its nuclear projects and its policies in the Middle East countries while none of these policies are in the favor of the country and the people.

People’s and society’s challenges like inflation, liquidity, high prices and of course the Covid-19 vaccination are fully ignored, according to dissidents.

One of the consequences of the fall in gross official reserves for the government is an increase in the price of foreign currency inside the country, which rose from 17,000 tomans at the beginning of 2019 to 32,000 tomans and is currently in the range of 25,000 tomans.

The Central Bank governor said last year that $280 billion in foreign exchange had been injected into the market over the past 15 years. That is $18 billion a year to control a turbulent market. And of course, in return, it has imposed a flood of liquidity into this shattered economy, so that at the cost of compensating for the budget deficit of Hassan Rouhani’s government, the inflation rate reached 50-60 percent, especially for basic goods, and put the Iranian people on an empty table.

The Central Bank’s own statistics in this regard are more telling than any other analysis. Liquidity was less than 500 trillion tomans at the beginning of Rouhani’s tenure, but last year it reached 3200 trillion tomans.

“The International Monetary Fund also reports that Iran’s inflation rate was 36.5 percent last year and will reach 39 percent this year.” (State-run daily Eghtesad News, April 12, 2021)

Like any other issue when this government is facing unbelievable and shocking revelations, it begins to deny anything and this case it not an exception too. The Chairman of the Central Bank of Iran said: “As the information about these sources and their status is in the possession of the Central Bank, the statements of irresponsible people in this regard are not documented.” (State-run news agency Mehr, April 13, 2021)

Governments in Iran have always incurred huge amounts of consecutive debts by borrowing from the Central Bank and other banks in the country. According to the report, the net debt of the Iranian government from the beginning of 2000 to 2017 averaged 5.1 percent of GDP, but last year this figure peaked at 35.7 percent of GDP, equivalent to $227 billion.

If we calculate this amount of debt at the free rate of the dollar, it is six times the general budget of the government of Rouhani in 2021. Also, the existence of negative economic growth rates in 2018 and 2019, which were negative 6 percent and negative 6.8 percent, can no longer be denied.

Another feature of Iran’s collapsed economy are the hundreds of bankrupted enterprises and production centers around the country. Farshad Momeni, a government economist, said: “The number of bankrupt firms is growing dramatically. Official reports say that the number of enterprises in the country has increased from 16,800 in 2005 to 14,452 in 2014. While we had more than 2,500 bankrupt units.” (ILNA, April 13, 2021)

He also emphasized the horizons facing producers and government employees, i.e. those who the government is putting its foot on their throat to compensate for its budget deficit, and said:

“At a time when production is on the verge of collapse, the government is making life harder for producers by manipulating key prices due to its financial constraints. After fixed wage earners, who are among the most vulnerable social groups, taxing is affecting mostly the producers.”

Retirees’ Protests Mirror Explosive Situation of Iran’s Society

It is not an exaggeration to say Iranian society is on the verge of collapse and a social explosion. At every corner of the country we are witnessing daily protests by all strata. From the students to the workers to the retirees and women, who have nothing more to lose anymore.

One example are the retirees who now for the third time since the Persian New Year have taken to the streets to protest their miserable livelihood situation and low wages, which are breaking their backs under the burden of high costs and inflation.

Their protest this time took place in Tehran and 26 other cities while the regime’s police force was fully prepared and tried to prevent anyone from filming and or joining them by attacking the protesters.

The repetition of the protests and its maturation into three protest movements this year shows the social readiness. This fact is clearly crystallized in the slogan of the retirees.

“For as long as we do not get our rights, we will come here every Sunday.”

“Only on the streets will we gain our rights.”

Reaching the point that only by coming to the streets to gain the rights is a blessed achievement for the social movement and a serious alarm for the regime.

The regime’s options are very limited. On the one hand it cannot repress these protests because it fears the consequences of the spread of these protests. On the other hand, it cannot ignore them because it will have the same effect and more people will join these protests. This is a situation in which the regime is stuck.

In a situation whereby the regime needs a silent society to run its presidential election, such protests are very dangerous. Among the protesters’ recent chants were: “We will not vote anymore, because we have heard too many lies.”

This slogan targeting the regime’s election. Its repetition and expansion is very dangerous for the regime’s legitimacy.

The regime’s officials are well aware that any mistake could well be their last mistake, especially because of a society after the November 2019 protests. Previously the regime’s Parliament Speaker Mohamad Bagher Ghalibaf said:

“Today we face various challenges in the system. We are witnessing economic problems in the system. People’s livelihoods are under pressure to the extent that the issue of supplying and distributing chicken simply plays with the people’s soul.

“These issues are due to poor management, not lack of resources. Today, the enemies enter the economy to weaken the system, so the dichotomy of poverty and wealth has become more important to the system than the dichotomy of war and peace. If the demands are not answered accurately, in a timely manner and quickly, we will face different problems every day.”

He was evidently confessing to the self-made social gap in the society and its danger for the regime, which will lead to more protests as he said that ‘we face different problems every day.’

“The mentioned inefficiencies cause problems that the police have to bear the burden of, and any action in this direction causes various problems.” (ISNA, April 10, 2021)

While requesting more law enforcement and the allocation of more resources to it, Ghalibaf was trying to reduce and cover up the people’s hatred and disgust for these forces and said: “Today, law enforcement is at the heart of people’s lives, and NAJA (police) commanders often meet with people more than their own forces, so it is important to know the phenomena before taking any action. NAJA is successful when it can move actively and ahead of phenomena.”

‘Moving actively and ahead of phenomena’, means that the regime’s forces should have the society’s pulse in their hands, to predict any uprising and prevent it in time.

Tragedy of Iran’s Student Dropouts, An Ominous Gift From the Rulers

Iranian lawmaker Behrouz Mohebi pointed to the 30 to 40 percent rate of student dropouts in Iran and showed his concern about the consequences for the country.

In his opinion one of the reasons for such a phenomenon is ‘the lack of proper infrastructure for using software and internet space for virtual education’ in many cities which forces the students to drop out. (ILNA, April 2, 2021)

The Arman state-run daily pointed to one of the societies’ concerns over ‘the situation of those students’ who are forced, ‘because of the lack of a smartphone or tablet are forced to dropout,’ and spoke ‘about the uncertain educational fate of 6 million students.” (State-run daily Arman, April 3, 2021)

In the Khorasan Razavi province, there are more than 40,000 student dropouts which is indicating a 300 percent increase in students leaving school in this province, while independent watchers are seeing this number much higher than this in this province and of course in the country.

But this situation is not specialized just to the last year and because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many students due to extreme poverty quit their school and are working on the streets as vendors to provide a livelihood for their families, endangered by social hazards and addiction.

Javad Hosseini, Deputy Minister of Education, said that 5 million of the students who drop out are not benefiting from smart devices for their education.

And the state-run daily Mouj which quoted this expression added that this statistic is more than just a news announcement, but a social catastrophe.

This is while in any country, children are the creators of the future of the country, and they must grow in a proper educational system and bear the burden of responsibility, guidance, and growth of the country.

But with the conditions mentioned above, children and students in Iran are far from this goal, because the educational system in Iran is burning out the country’s talents.

And children who are going to school also have to learn in miserable conditions. Difficult living and educational conditions will force them in the future to drop out of school, willingly or unwillingly, joining the working children and street children. The catastrophic situation of the classrooms and schools is further exacerbating this situation.

Eskandar Momeni, Secretary General of the Anti-Drug Headquarters, said: “A careful survey was conducted in the community and the result was that 90 percent of students who drop out the school, they turn to one of the social harms such as addiction. (State-run daily Khabar Fori, January 5, 2021)

Another issue that accelerates the process of children dropping out is frustration about the future after their graduation. Seeing the educated unemployed youth, they prefer to leave school so that they may be able to find work. But because there is no employment for them, they are trapped in various social harms.

What is happening to the children of Iran and their education is not the result of ignorance or negligence, but the result of the government looting and corruption, whose first target are children and adolescents of Iran, dissidents say.