Until October 18, Iranian authorities tirelessly touted lifting the UN arms embargo as a significant achievement. President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif bragged about their fruitful foreign policy. They had even stepped further and portrayed this “achievement” as a lifeline for trade and achieving colossal revenue.
However, they did not specify who is supposed to purchase Iranian arms and how Tehran would receive the money? They did not and could not blame U.S. sanctions for the lack of customers and the market.
The fact that extremist groups and outlaw states—such as Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias, Yemeni Houthis, and Bashar al-Assad dictatorship—are Tehran’s sole clients. Apart from them, there are no legal states that prefer to purchase weapons from an unstable government instead of from prominent and well-known companies.
Moreover, neither China nor Russia would purchase Iranian armaments. They were looking for a market to sell their weapons. However, they will receive nothing in return for their weapons. Why? Because, in December 2019, the Iranian authorities refused to join the Financial Action Task Force’s bills and thus cut the country’s banking system from the international monetary bodies.
The ayatollahs have no more money to purchase weaponry systems and their dire economic conditions reveal this reality. On October 21, the chief of State Security Forces (NAJA) Brigade Gen. Hossein Ashtari complained about the shortage of the NAJA’s budget at the Parliament (Majlis) session.
In recent months, the price of almost all essential goods dramatically increased. The national currency Rial’s value has unprecedentedly dropped against the U.S. dollar and the exchange rate for each USD stands at over 320,000 rials in the free market. Furthermore, there has been no day without employees and workers’ protests for their delayed paychecks and arrears in Iran.
Meanwhile, the novel coronavirus has deteriorated the country’s economic power. However, most importantly, it has diminished public trust, and even the most loyal forces to the supreme leader Ali Khamenei criticize the government’s approach against the health crisis.
In such circumstances, as people’s rage is going to erupt, foreign pressures are the ayatollahs’ last concern. They relentlessly search for an income-resource to ease society’s fury. Since April, when they lifted health restrictions and compelled citizens to opt between the coronavirus and starvation, many people fell victim to the disease. Now, regarding the unprecedented daily COVID-19 death toll, which reached 337 on October 19, they even deal with objections among their inner circles.
In this respect, political rivalries have amplified and MP Mojtaba Zol-Nour, chair of Security and Foreign Affairs Commission, spoke about executing the president. “The majority of the Iranian people today will not be satisfied with less than your dismissal, and the Supreme Leader should order to execute you 1,000 times,” he said on October 18.
Therefore, lifting the UN arms embargo, as Rouhani’s significant achievement, not only did not bring privileges for the Iranian government but also exposed cracks and failures.
Rouhani finally admitted that it was merely a hollow gesture. “Our arms embargo was lifted. It is not important how many weapons we can purchase or sell. It is important to obtain our rights. The people are in dire conditions, but they must realize our worldwide political successes,” Rouhani said in the October 21 cabinet meeting.