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Khamenei Blames “Enemies” To Downplay Domestic Unrest, Justify Foreign Provocation

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei painted most of his regime’s current crises with the same broad brush on Saturday when he delivered a wide-ranging speech to mark the anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Ruhollah Khomeini. Khamenei sought to portray the Islamic Republic as the victim of a global conspiracy, with events both inside the country and throughout the world being directed by the regime’s “enemies”.

“Today, the enemies’ most important hope for striking a blow at the country is based on popular protests,” the regime’s supreme leader said. The Islamic Republic has been mired in protests throughout the month of May, beginning with teacher protests that were organized to coincide with International Worker’s Day, and continuing through protests over food subsidy cuts and the collapse of a building in the city of Abadan, which activists have blamed on government corruption.

Many of those activists have indeed promoted the idea of regime change as a solution to such problems, and Khamenei appears to have seized upon that message to argue that the public demonstrations are really the work of foreign “infiltrators”. However, slogans like “death to the dictator” and “we do not want the mullahs ruling” have defined several large-scale protests in the Islamic Republic in recent years, including at least eight movements since the beginning of 2018 which the leading opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, labeled as nationwide uprisings.

While some of these protests have received public statements of support from the likes of the White House, those statements have been fairly tepid and have avoided any explicit endorsement of regime change. There has certainly been no evidence presented by Tehran or any other entity to suggest meaningful foreign investment into the protests, much less a foreign point of origin. Yet Khamenei and others continue to rely on intimations of foreign conspiracy as part of an effort to delegitimize local organizing efforts, which the PMOI largely attributes to its own “Resistance Units”.

Khamenei’s condemnation of “enemy” plots may also serve as a public justification for acts of foreign confrontation and brinksmanship which the regime’s critics have long described as a pillar of its strategy of keeping a hold on power. This interpretation was given additional credence by the fact that the supreme leader’s speech also featured unusually forthright statements about one of the most recent outlets for his regime’s conflict with foreign adversaries.

Khamenei openly acknowledged that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boarded two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf last month for the purpose of “taking back” oil that had been “stolen” from Iran via the enforcement of US sanctions. The statement was at odds with earlier statements from lesser Iranian authorities, which justified the seizures by vaguely accusing the tanker crews of violating some unspecified maritime rules.

These earlier statements were more in line with Tehran’s commentary on similar tit-for-tat seizures in the past, as well as other provocative acts such as the close approach of US warships transiting the Strait of Hormuz. In other cases, Tehran has simply denied responsibility for incidents in surrounding waters, such as the 2019 limpet mine attacks on several tankers and the 2021 attack on a tanker with ties to Israel, which killed two English crew members.

Recent Iran Protests a Wake-Up Call for Khamenei

According to the state-run Mashregh website, an informed official in the Iranian regime’s Organization of Targeted Subsidies has announced that the payment of subsistence subsidies to 72 million people ended on June 6.

According to statistics, Iran has a population of 85 million. A simple calculation shows that around 84.7% of the Iranian population requires financial help in the form of subsidies. It is surprising that these strange figures can be found in a country that is one of the richest countries in the world and is known for having many natural resources, including energy reserves and their by-products.

The reality of the situation is that since the inception of the Velayat-e-Faqih regime, Iran is traversing the path of death rows, despair, inflation, unemployment, terrorism, nuclear threats, torture, executions, and injustice. This dire situation has clearly resulted from the regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini’s promises in the series of speeches before and after the referendum on the establishment of the Islamic Republic in February 1979.

Free utilities, housing for the poor, full rights for religious and ethnic minorities, and reduced military spending were some of the promises Khomeini made in his speeches. However, more than four decades later, not only have none of these promises been fulfilled, but in many cases, the Velayat-e-Faqih regime has acted in a way that is completely opposite of those promises.

The mullahs ruling in Iran are interfering heavily in the internal affairs of the countries in the region. The formation and financial and military support of many proxy groups, who have nothing else to do but kill and loot, illustrate this fact.

In recent years, Khamenei still had foreign exchange reserves to pay these militant groups, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthis, but these reserves seem to have run out, and selling cheap oil to countries like China does not provide enough capital to continue funding them.

Like in previous governments, the cabinet of the regime’s current president Ebrahim Raisi has increased taxes and tariff-imposed subscription fees on many public services, introduced building permits, eliminated imports of essential materials at government rates, and increased commodity prices to make up for his government’s budget deficit.

This has subsequently led to a sharp rise in the price of bread and other essential items for the Iranian people. The corrupt circles of the government, headed by the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, along with the ministers and other incompetent officials, and the unprecedented increase of oppression and social injustice, have tested the patience of the Iranian people, who are rightly outraged with the current situation.

The recent series of anti-government protests across the country is exactly what Khamenei fears the most. In a speech on January 25, 2016, he said that if we do not keep the war outside our borders, we must fight the enemy here in Kermanshah and Hamedan, and other provinces. The domestic enemy he made reference to back then was clearly the people in revolt against the regime, threatening their existence.

This backward regime, based on medieval religious laws, cannot meet the economic, cultural, and political demands of the Iranian people, so their only solution is to rule them brutally.

The reason why this regime has never been at peace in the last 40 years is that war and crisis have been a cover for internal inhuman repression. The current situation of the government is so critical that Haddad Adel, the former speaker of parliament and the father-in-law of Mojtaba Khamenei, said on April 22, 2012, “Everything is in disarray.”

Qassem Saedi, a member of the Iranian parliament, warned that “there are likely to be more dangerous events than the uprisings of 2017 and mid-November 2019.”

These protests and demonstrations are no longer about the bad economic situation. They have turned into political protests. The slogans of ‘Death to Khamenei’, ‘Raisi, mullahs must get lost’, ‘Death to the dictator’, ‘Disgrace to our radio and television’, ‘Khamenei is a murderer, and his government is vain’, to name but a few, have now become common chants at protests up and down the country. This is exactly what has sounded the alarm for Khamenei.

The mullahs, as always and as expected, see the people and their Resistance movement as their potential enemies, and as a result, have used all their military and repressive power to suppress the recent waves of protests, and have dramatically increased the number of executions taking place in prisons across Iran.

The Most Extreme Way of Destroying the Iranian Nation

After over 40 years of destruction of the country, the Iranian regime has further accelerated this destruction during the tenure of its current president Ebrahim Raisi. The regime no longer has the right to speak about development and progress while the levels of destruction have reached the people’s basic necessities, from bread and water to clean air.

The country is currently imperiled by the threat of famine. Forty years of back-breaking two-digit inflation, the loss of capital and financial resources, national savings, and oil revenues, are collectively vaporizing the different classes in Iranian society. It is beyond imagination to assess the impact the destruction has had on medical treatment, health services, people’s health, and longevity.

This is something that Ruhollah Khomeini, as the founder of this regime, left for the people of Iran and now his successors are continuing his dark heritage.

The latest atrocity is the collapsed Metropol building in Abadan which caused the deaths of many deprived people. The regime has done nothing to help the victims of the disaster and has outright refused to extract their bodies buried under the rubble of the building.

The regime is also adding insult to injury with the presentation of a song named ‘Hail to the commander,’ praising the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

The state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily blamed the regime as the main culprit. It wrote, “The government, which is the main factor in designing inflationary budgets and fiat money and growing liquidity, appears every day as a public prosecutor, accusing the private sector, guilds, and producers, and sometimes with harsh behavior, it is misrepresenting the cause of rising inflation.”

Many of the regime’s experts and economists have come to believe that using the word ‘crisis’ to describe the current situation is no longer effective. All the while, the regime is putting the blame on an imaginary enemy for this crisis and catastrophe.

The Jahan-e Sanat added, “Everyone is shocked at what has happened to Iran’s economy. How is it possible for a country with such resources and capacities to have such a miserable economy?”

Even with a collapsed economy, the regime is fiercely insisting on printing fiat money, which will further affect the children and elderly in the country by starving them and driving them further into poverty.

After tripling the price of fuel and murdering 1,500 protesters during the November 2019 uprisings, the regime has now decided to increase the price of bread, cheese, and egg,   deceptively referring to it as ‘economic reforms’.

The Jahan-e Sanat further stated, “For forty years, governments in Iran have come to the fore one after the other, but they have not been able to solve the problem of double-digit inflation. Rising prices for commodities such as flour, poultry, and dairy products are passive reactions and cannot be called economic reforms.”

The waste of the country’s resources is another factor in this devastation. Mehrdad Bazrpash, the head of the regime’s court of audit, highlighted, “Investigations by the Court of Audit show that a significant portion of the country’s resources is being wasted.”

To waste the country’s resources simply means to starve millions. Now the regime is planning to steal the people’s last assets and savings in the worst possible way, but claiming that they are reforming the economy.

This, of course, is just an excuse to further reduce the value of subsidies in the face of the rapidly rising cost of goods and commodities needed by the people.

Hojjat Mirzaei, the former deputy minister of social welfare, believes that the recent liberalization of prices is an extreme measure that shows the confusion and a kind of disintegration within the government’s decisions.

The state-run website Rooz-e No quoted MIrzaei as saying, “Countries that put structural adjustment on the agenda were very cautious and slow about eliminating food and medicine subsidies. But the 13th government has implemented the most extreme part of the adjustment in the most extreme way possible. Personally, I do not know of any economist who, in the current state of society, would consider the abolition of bread and medicine subsidies to be a correct step. In other words, they carried out an extremist policy in the most radical way.”

What is more painful is that the reduction of water, bread, and medicine is being done in the name of increasing subsidies, to compensate for the millions of rials for the increase in the price of essential goods and services.

Iran’s Regime and the Nightmare of a New IAEA Resolution

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) new report on Iran’s nuclear activities has created a major challenge for the Iranian regime, with many of its media outlets and officials expressing their fear and concern over the consequences of this report. The Agency had expected that Iran would respond to its questions about the hidden and suspect projects, especially the presence of uranium particles in four previously undeclared sites

However, it appears that the regime has either failed to respond to the questions, or its answers were not satisfying. The regime’s stonewalling has prompted the EU three and the U.S. to draft a resolution to be tabled at the IAES BoG’s meeting that begins on June 6.

And because only a majority is needed to adopt the resolution, Tehran’s traditional allies, Russia, and China cannot veto the measure. Some of the regime’s experts have said that this time, a new resolution will not have any impact on the Iranian economy, because it’s risk factor has reached seven.

In its latest Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum added the following items in its assessment of risk factors: 1: Employment and livelihood crises

2: Widespread youth disillusionment

3: Prolonged economic stagnation

4: Natural resource crises

5: Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse

These latest additions show that Iran’s economy has been facing a downfall for a long while.

The draft resolution has created a nightmare for the regime as it calls on the clerical regime to cooperate fully with the IAEA and respond to their questions immediately.

In recent months, the Vienna talks to revive the JCPOA nuclear deal came to a standstill with the announcement by US President Joe Biden that the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) will be kept on the US’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list.

Before this announcement, news about a new nuclear deal had been broadcast by the regime’s media, which along with the pro-appeasement policy had promised that an agreement would be signed within a few weeks, a few days, or even a few hours. It was later revealed that there were many disputes between the negotiating parties that could not be resolved so easily.

Iran’s regime has unilaterally demanded the lifting of all sanctions and the need for it to verify that they have indeed been lifted. Tehran also demanded a guarantee for the return of oil proceeds and that no US future administrations would ever leave the JCPOA.

The US rejected in a previous commentary in the Kayhan daily, the mouthpiece of the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and its chief editor Hossein Shariatmadari, acknowledged the stalemate in the Vienna talks, making it clear that the regime knows that sanctions will not be lifted without making certain concessions.

Following a long period of useless negotiations, the IAEA is now sounding the alarms. This is because the regime has not given a credible and technical response to the Agency’s specific questions about radioactive material of human origin being found on some of its suspect sites.

This is not the Agency’s only concern. At present, the amount of the regime’s uranium stockpile has reached 18 times more than allowed in the JCPOA.

On June 1, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) wrote, “Iran has crossed a new, dangerous threshold; Iran’s breakout timeline is now at zero. It has enough 60 percent enriched uranium or highly enriched uranium (HEU) to be assured it could fashion a nuclear explosive. If Iran wanted to further enrich its 60 percent HEU up to weapons-grade HEU, or 90 percent, it could do so within a few weeks with only a few of its advanced centrifuge cascades.”

It added, “In parallel, within a month, it could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a second nuclear explosive from its existing stock of near 20 percent low enriched uranium. Whether or not Iran enriches its HEU up to 90 percent, it can have enough HEU for two nuclear weapons within one month after starting the breakout.”

ISIS further explained, “Within 1.5 months after starting breakout, it could accumulate enough for a third nuclear weapon, using its remaining near 20 percent enriched uranium and some of its 4.5 percent enriched uranium. In 2.75 months after starting breakout, it could have a fourth quantity by further enriching 4.5 percent enriched uranium up to 90 percent. At six months, it could have produced the fifth quantity by further enriching both 4.5 percent enriched uranium and natural uranium. The accumulation for a sixth would take several months longer.”

It can be said that the regime has faced three consecutive defeats in a short period:

  1. The announcement that it’s the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) will remain on the US FTO list.
  2. The stalemate in the JCPOA negotiations
  3. Drafting of a resolution condemning the regime by the United States and three European countries at a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors

So far, several factors have hampered the policy of appeasement and concessions to the regime’s nuclear program:

  1. The expansion of the protests in Iran has left its mark on political and international equations and has made appeasement useless and costly.
  2. Revelations and actions of the Iranian Resistance to keep the Revolutionary Guards on the FTO list.
  3. The opposition of the public opinion and bipartisan lawmakers and political figures to the US returning to the JCPOA and lifting the sanctions
  4. Formation of a new regional front against the regime’s terrorist and nuclear policies.

150+ Workers Buried Under the Rubble of Metropol Building

In the 10 days since the Metropol building collapsed in Abadan, Iranian regime officials are continuing to refuse to give the exact number of victims that were buried under the rubble of the building. Reports so far have indicated that 39 bodies have been extracted

One sad story that has made headlines is that of a newly married couple who fell victim to the regime’s corruption.

Maryam Ghorbani and Ramin Masoumi, a young couple married for less than two years, opened the Mary Café in the Metropol building hoping to improve their life. On the third day following the building’s collapse, rescuers discovered their bodies.

One of Maryam’s relatives said, “Maryam’s father has gone crazy. He raised Maryam alone. Maryam’s mother died when she was 9 years old.”

According to a person close to the family of Maryam Ghorbani, until the evening of the second day after the incident, they were still able to call Ramin’s cellphone. Ramin was still alive then and managed to answer the phone, but Maryam did not respond.

Another victim, beloved by Abadan’s people because of his chivalry, was Payman Bavandi. He was buried in the presence of many people who bid their last farewell. Peyman worked with his father for years selling iron, but after his father retired recently, Peyman began to run a single warehouse in the Ahmadabad area.

According to the Khuzestan General Directorate of Education, five students from Khorramshahr also lost their lives in this tragic incident. Different people from all walks of life and various age groups were buried under the rubble, with the highest number of victims being students and workers.

The latest reports by some of the regime’s media have estimated that at least 150 to 200 workers were buried below the rubble and that the regime has not only done anything to save them but has also refused to extract their bodies.

The state-run website Emtedad quoted a witness as saying, “I was 50 meters away from the Metropol Tower when this tragedy happened. The weather was very hot, maybe over 40 degrees. Suddenly we saw a woman and a Metropol worker in completely dirty clothes running in our direction, frightened. The worker entered the shop in fear and shouted that Abadan has no supporters. We gave him glass water and when he could concentrate, he said that more than 200 people are buried. He shouted constantly that they all died.”

He then added, “A person working as the food courier said that he had delivered 150 meals to the workers a few minutes before the accident. On Mino Island, everyone said that 90 workers from this area worked in the Metropol Tower. The Salehian family also said that many young people on Mino Island had found work in the Tower.”

In a tweet, Dariush Memar, a journalist from Abadan, wrote, “Some workers whose names have been identified and to this day are still under the rubble of the Metropol are Mansour Taghipour, Manzar Motavari, Karim Bandari, Mohamad Hamidian, Amir Behbahani, Rahman Behbahani, Hamid Falipour, and Mansour Eidani. There are workers whose names we do not know.”

https://twitter.com/darushmemar/status/1532436416961073385?s=20&t=hLuwEWmzu437KdSC-97MxQ

Quoting another citizen in another tweet, he wrote, “Message of a citizen from Abadan: “My brother is in the fire department and has just arrived home. He says that after taking out Maryam’s body, they don’t care about the others. They dismiss all the teams. They want to demolish the building. He says you can’t breathe because of the stench.”

https://twitter.com/darushmemar/status/1532260336912502785?s=20&t=3PLOoTh_42ba70_nh5dUEg

This incident will not be the first nor the last, as many buildings are often built and sold without adhering to the necessary standards.

The head of the Khuzestan Building Engineering System Organization said, “There are similar buildings and structures in Abadan like the Metropol building and a lot of correspondence has been done in this regard. The Engineering System Organization is only responsible for issuing warnings and informing about the unsafe structures.”

Referring to the issuance of 5,000 warnings for non-standard structures in Khuzestan last year by this organization, he said, “This organization does not have the executive power to stop problematic projects. With this number of warnings issued last year, some projects were stopped, but others continued to be built for some reason.”

As Public Protests Escalate, Khamenei Steps Up Executions

On the morning of Tuesday, May 31, a Baluch prisoner was hanged in Damghan Prison. This is the latest blood that the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has shed. The victim was a 33-year-old married man from Zahedan, in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan, who had previously been arrested on drug charges.

On Saturday, May 28, a prisoner named Hamidollah Sahraei (Koohi), the son of Abdul Razzaq, was hanged in Chabahar Prison, south of Iran. Sahraei, a resident of Sarbaz city, Nute village, had been charged with ‘murder’. Having been detained in Chabahar prison since 2020, two days prior to his execution, he was transferred to solitary confinement before being hanged.

The same day, a prisoner named Nader Gargij, the son of Naeem was hanged in Zabul prison, also in the southeast. This victim, who was from Jerikeh village of Zahak city in Sistan and Baluchistan, had been charged with a drug offense.

Gargij and his cousin were arrested in February 2020, in the Jazinak area of ​​Zahak city, after being wounded by direct fire from the regime’s intelligence agents, before being detained in Zabul prison. Nader had been shot in the leg and abdomen, while his cousin, Hamid Gargij, died of his injuries on the spot.

On Wednesday, May 25, eight prisoners were hanged en masse in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj. Six of the men executed were identified as Ramin Arab, Abbas Bitarfan, Gholam Hossein Zeinali, Ali Nosrati, Ali Montazeri, and Vahid Miyanehabadi. The groups of prisoners had been transferred to solitary confinement in a group of ten from ward 2 of Dar al-Quran. Two were later returned to the ward.

Ramin Arab was charged with ‘moharebeh through armed robbery’, while the other seven detainees had been charged with ‘premeditated murder.’ Arab attempted to commit suicide before his death sentence was implemented and was taken to hospital. However, the regime’s officials later took him straight from the hospital to the gallows. The hanging of the eight prisoners was not reported by the state media.

Also on May 25, a female prisoner named Laden Molla Saeedi was hanged in Qarchak Prison in Varamin on charges of ‘premeditated murder.’

On Sunday, May 29, the death sentence of a 27-year-old prisoner named Shahab was carried out in Mashhad Central Prison In the northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi. Shahab had also been charged with ‘premeditated murder.’

On Sunday, May 22, 2022, a 29-year-old prisoner, Elias Gh, was hanged in Vakilabad prison in Mashhad, having been originally arrested on October 9, 2016.

On the same day, two prisoners were hanged in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, in the southern province of Fars. A female prisoner was executed for charges of ‘premeditated murder’, while a Baluch prisoner named Abdolbari Rigi was executed charged with ‘possessing drug’, while a 37-year-old prisoner named ‘Mohammad Morad Fazeli’ was executed in Shirvan Prison on charges of premeditated murder.

On Monday, May 23, one woman was executed in Amol Prison in the northern Province of Mazandaran on unknown charges, while Mohammad Sorkhrou, Abbas Kamali, and Mossadegh Mallahi were executed in Minab Prison in the southern province of Hormozgan, on the charge of drug possession. A prisoner was also executed in Zanjan Prison, western Iran, charged with ‘murder.’

Referred to as Black Monday, May 23 saw a total of at least 30 prisoners hanged at the Minab, Shirvan, Urmia, Zanjan, and Amol prisons, in total.

In the last 10 days alone, from May 22 to May 31, over 46 people have been executed across the country. According to experts, the unprecedented increase in the number of executions during May is precisely due to the current political instability of Iranian society and the recent increase in public protests.

“Death to Khamenei,” Protesters Chant Following Metropol Collapse

Protests and mourning in various cities across Iran occurred after the Metropol twin towers collapse in Abadan that happened on May 23, footage has been broadcast, showing citizens chanting various slogans aimed at the Iranian regime.

Among the chants were: “Death to [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei”; “Khamenei is a murderer; his rule is invalid”; “Death to the dictator”; “Our enemy is right here, [the mullahs] lie when they say it is in America”; and “The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Basij must get lost.”

https://twitter.com/IranNewsUpdate1/status/1531011303766212609?s=20&t=k4beyorJ-61zVac6Hh5Lqg

The regime’s inadequate response to the catastrophe, which has claimed the lives of at least 37 victims—as of this report—has outraged the public. At the same time, Iranian authorities have been stunned by the ongoing protests in Abadan, which have also spread across the country.

The mullahs expected that there would be mourning ceremonies for the victims; however, the regime’s 43-year resume of corruption, deception, and failure has led the grieving families to vent their anger against the entire regime with slogans such as “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to [regime President Ebrahim] Raisi.”

The ongoing and expanding protests prove that Iran’s society is in a volcanic situation, and the people’s frustration and disappointment may erupt at any given moment. In recent months, Iran’s state media has repeatedly sounded alarm bells about the gap between the state and society. These latest demonstrations have proven that their predictions were correct.

Brutal Crackdown Shows the Regime’s Vulnerability and Weakness

It appeared that the regime had seemingly recognized society’s readiness for an upheaval. As a result, authorities immediately dispatched anti-riot forces to the Metropol site following the incident, rather than sending relief personnel and equipment to rescue survivors. State media also downplayed the disaster, seeking to ease the people’s hatred and anger.

In an interview with Entekhab daily on May 24, the state-run propaganda chief Peyman Jabelli said, “We dispatched the News Channel to the Metropol. We received appeals and requests from everywhere, demanding that we cover this issue for even one or two hours. Then we received orders, saying, ‘That’s enough.’”

In response to the organization’s failure to cover the news and report the disaster, citizens were heard chanting, “The state-run radio and TV organization is a disgrace”

Videos of the aftermath of the collapse have shown anti-riot units, Basij paramilitary forces, and plainclothes agents, using lethal force to disperse citizens’ peaceful gatherings. Not only did authorities fire teargas and birdshot against the defenseless protesters, but they also resorted to using live ammunition to quell the people’s rightful demands for justice against corrupt officials.

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Reports have also indicated that the regime transferred armored vehicles and oppressive equipment to Abadan, countering unarmed citizens. Snipers were also reportedly placed on the rooftops, and then targeted several citizens.

https://twitter.com/IranNewsUpdate1/status/1531735854519140353?s=20&t=X-I_2vusaP8W_mj0t1eRxg

Observers have suggested that such a cruel approach towards the unarmed citizens greatly signifies the regime’s vulnerability and weakness, and shows that the mullahs neither can, nor want to address people’s demands. “They are all cuts of the same cloth,” citizens say.

According to another citizen, “Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, Vice-President for Economic Affairs Mohsen Rezaei, Arvand Free Trade Zone director-general Esmail Zamani, Assembly of Experts member Abbas Ka’bi, the governor, judiciary officials, security forces, and municipal managers are all in a mafia, dominating Khuzestan.”

Protests Extend and Aim Dictator Ali Khamenei

Despite the regime’s brutality, the latest protests have engulfed the country. On the sixth consecutive night of protests, defiant youths in the Naziabad district of Tehran chanted, “Death to Khamenei,” boldly pointing to the source of Iranian citizens’ difficulties and problems.

In Bushehr, in the south of the country, citizens chanted anti-regime slogans, such as, “Death to the dictator” and “Our enemy is right here, [the mullahs] lie, saying it is America.”

In Abadan, a number of Arab tribes joined the mourning ceremonies. These tribes were armed and terrified security forces, pushing them to ease their oppressive measures.

Fearing the further expansion of protests, the regime disrupted the Internet in order to silence protesters. However, Iranian netizens called upon tech companies and satellite-owner incorporations to ensure protesters still had access to free internet.

Concurrent with the domestic protests, the Iranian diaspora, mostly supporters of the main Iranian opposition – the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) – also rallied outside local administrative offices in various countries in Europe.

Ebrahim Raisi and a Record Full of Zeros

Before Ebrahim Raisi took office as president he made many promises and ‘predicted’ progress in dealing with Iran’s miserable economic situation, ensuring the Iranian people that their living conditions will improve. He was also trying to assure the regime’s supporters that his presence will save the regime from a collapse.

Despite his efforts, many people refused to believe the hollow promises and the country witnessed the most widely boycotted election in its history.

Addressing one of Raisi’s lies, the state-run Donya-e Eghtesad daily wrote, “The claim of creating one million jobs by the head of the judiciary of the Islamic Republic and the candidate for the 2021 presidential election provoked many reactions. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi considered single-digit inflation possible and claimed that ‘70% of the country’s economic capacity is inactive. By activating these capacities, we can create one million jobs a year’.”

The question remains as to how the regime would rewrite and improve the economy, which is a victim of the regime’s massive corruption, plunder, and theft?

Following the implementation of the government’s new plan to remove the preferred currency from basic items, one of the regime’s so-called reformists admitted, “The economic situation is not good. Even today we must admit that we are in a state of war, and we have no choice but to ration the goods. If this does not happen, then there would be famine, followed by public discontent and even riots, in which case, the system will also be threatened.”

These warnings are no longer just about what might potentially occur. Every day, the Iranian people are taking to the streets to protest the regime, with most of their slogans aimed at the regime’s leaders.

This situation has become so intense that it has created a society where the people are increasingly getting ready for a new revolution. This is not just a political analysis; the economic statistics of the regime also confirm this fact. During his election campaign, Raisi had promised that he would decrease the exchange rate for each dollar to 15,000 rials. In one quick move, he would lower the inflation by 50 percent, lowering the figures to a single digit.

He claimed that no one in his government would speak about money printing and that the people’s food baskets would not be tight with the sanctions. He also claimed that creating one million jobs annually would be as easy as a pie, as would creating four million housing units. Marriage loans and large amounts of money to set up bankrupt factories would also be easily provided.

However, less than a year after he took the office, none of those promises were delivered. The protests all over the country represent a damning rebuke. Although it has been repeated many times, it should be noted that the average income of the Iranian people is not only much lower than the minimum wages of countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, but it is also less than the minimum wages of small countries such as Azerbaijan and Oman.

The state-run daily Shargh wrote, “Reports from the Ministry of Labor show that about 60% of Iranians do not have sufficient income and suitable jobs. About 14,200 million Iranians have low-income jobs and are without insurance.”

It further explained, “About one-fifth of Iranians are taxi drivers! (3.4 million SNAP drivers and 1.4 million Tepsi drivers, about 300,000 taxi drivers and private taxi drivers). About 35 to 40 percent of Iranians are tenants and about 20 million are slum dwellers and homeless. About 25 percent, or one-fourth, of the population, are slum dwellers and homeless.”

While the regime claimed and advertised that with the help of subsidies the lives of the Iranian people would improve, the reality of the situation shows that they are continuing to loot the people of their much-needed incomes.

The state-run daily Arman wrote, “The volume of cash subsidies until the electronic card is provided, has caused problems for the government with some banks accusing the government of withdrawing funds from banks to provide cash subsidies. In this regard, Vahid Shaghaghi Shahri, an economist, said that ‘Governments have been taking money from the banks for many years.’”

Budget Deficit and Khamenei’s Fear of Collapse

In a meeting with the Iranian regime’s parliament members, supreme leader Ali Khamenei suggested some actions to improve the country’s economy, as though Iran’s economy is normal, and everything is on the right track. In reality, the economy is in pieces and the regime is facing a huge budget deficit.

According to the state-run media, Khamenei claimed, “The composition of the budget is still not corrected, while the government is the one that has been addressed.”

The question that remains is whether the regime knows that there are many errors in the regime’s budget and why have they neglected to correct the mistake.

The answer is very simple. They are fully aware of the situation, but they are no longer able to correct the budget because of the corruption and theft that has engulfed all parts of the ruling system.

On December 22, 2021, the state-run daily Afkar News wrote, “The 2022 budget was presented without much change in the budgeting system and like previous years. This is a budget that has fundamentally major drawbacks and is not compatible with upstream laws.”

The budget is based on the export of oil and gas, and any shortage is compensated for by borrowing from the central bank and the fiat money.

In the budget of 2022, it was discovered that more than half of the budget had a deficit, with the general budget deficit amounting to close to 300 trillion rials, which was supposed to be supplemented y revenues from the sale of oil and the sale of government bonds and companies.

At the time, Khamenei warned the regime’s parliament that they should not increase the budget deficit by increasing expenditures, for which there is no revenue.

However, in the case of wasteful expenses, there are many examples in which the traces of Khamenei and the Iranian parliament are obvious.

Hassan Khoshpour, the former senior director of the Planning and Budget Organization, said, “The conduct of the 2022 Budget Consolidation Commission made it clear that not only it is futile to expect efficiency when the legislature and the executive branch are unified, but the budgeting process is merely a list of expenditures (mostly current expenditures) with no long-term development perspective, regardless of the possibility of their realization.”

It has recently become clear that the regime gave hollow promises in the budget circular, and that there is no programmed budget. Under the supervision of Khamenei’s office, the budget program has been converted into a traditional budget program that fails to support any progression and the country’s primary necessities and instead is giving free rein to the officials to partake in even more corruption.

An example of this is the decision of the regime’s Parliamentary Integration Commission, which increased housing and marriage deposit loans and allocated resources for the housing sector amounting to 440 trillion rials. It also compelled banks to provide resources amounting to 200 trillion rials for employment and implemented inefficient and harmful programs.

These actions were carried out with Khamenei’s full knowledge and coordinated with the government and the parliament. The growth of liquidity and inflation by such harmful programs, which has now increased to between 40 and 50 percent, is crushing the Iranian people. This is the real reason for the increase in more and people suffering from starvation.

From the very first days of the 2022 budget discussion, it was stated many times that one of the major parts of the budget expenditure, ‘ whose the bitter fruits the poor have tasted’, is the unaccounted money that has been flowing into the regime officials’ pockets in the name of cultural institutions. Yet, Khamenei orders the parliament not to approve unaccounted expenses!

The official news agency, IRNA, showed the reality of the situation. “At first glance, it seems that dozens of cultural institutions have been excluded from receiving the budget, while an inquiry from the Program and Budget Organization showed that there has been no change in the total number of institutions receiving the cultural budget and all cultural institutions have been merged into 10 main institutions. In fact, it is a budget that should be divided between these institutions and many other institutions whose names are not mentioned in the bill,” it wrote.

A recent analysis has shown that the budget of the seminary service center has increased by 100% compared to last year.

The state-run daily Tejart News wrote, “The budget of the seminary service center is 28 trillion rials. In 2021 it was 14 trillion rials. As stated in this bill, the budget share of the seminary service center is more than the Environmental Protection Organization.”

IRNA added, “The budget of the Environment Organization in the budget bill of 2022 is 21 trillion rials. Forty-three religious’ organizations in the budget of 2022 received 72.52 trillion rials, some of which received alone more than the budget of organizations such as the General Staff of the Crisis.”

Another example of this corruption belongs to one of the regime’s institutions, known as the Culture and Guidance of Qom. In talking about the regime’s support for the Institution, its director-general said, “In previous years, the concern of the Public Culture Council was that we need credit to support cultural activities. Fortunately, last year, a row under Table 17 was seen in the country’s budget to support cultural activities, and six trillion rials were distributed among cultural institutions. This year, 6.5 trillion rials have been allocated in the budget to support cultural activities.”

Why is Khamenei due to speak this month about the budget, when the regime is not due to draft a budget bill and review it in parliament?

It appears that after the many protests in recent weeks, due to high prices and starvation, Khamenei is keen to warn the officials to ‘steal’ less. Regardless of his intentions, it is far too late to attempt to rectify the situation as none of them can affect any changes.

Iran’s Regime: We Have Lost the Momentum of the JCPOA

The Iranian regime expected that they would be able to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after a two-month deadlock, but with the decision of the US president Joe Biden to keep the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list, their hopes were dashed.

Before this decision was made, a draft agreement had been reached, and the only obstacle to finalizing it was the regime’s demand to pull out the IRGC from the US government’s FTO list.

While facing many financial problems, the regime had hoped that this progress would allow it to gain access to its frozen money and assets in many overseas accounts blocked due to the US sanctions.

During European Union official Enrique Mora’s visit to Tehran, Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, announced that the EU had prepared a package of proposals under which the United States would remove the Revolutionary Guards from the FTO list but would maintain the sanctions against the organization.

At the same time, Western media outlets had claimed that during Mora’s visit, the regime had agreed to resume talks on issues other than the removal of the IRGC from the US list of terrorist organizations, which was the focus of the last round of Vienna talks.

Concurrent with this news, which shows clearly the regime’s weakness exacerbated in the aftermath of the recent protests, regime president Ebrahim Raisi made the groundless claim that “we will not postpone the progress of the country until the lifting of sanctions so that others can decide for us, and we have shown this in practice and announced in the official forums that our strategy is the strategy of the leadership, but at the same time, we pursue the issue of lifting sanctions.”

US State Department Spokesman Ned Price stated that the Vienna talks are only focused on nuclear issues and if the regime wants to discuss issues that are outside the JCPOA, the US government is more than ready to participate in these talks, provided that the regime is prepared to make concessions.

Mehdi Zakerian, the regime’s international law expert, gave an interview with ISNA about the regime’s refusal to back down and its costs. He said, “Unfortunately, it seems that the other side, the United States, has long been reluctant to resolve the issue. In the US view, it has been able to manage its other issues and problems in the region and other parts of the world with the presence of other countries. And this is not good for Iran’s reputation and future, especially at the regional level. Unfortunately, in the analysis, news, and reports, the disagreement with Iran and the revival of the JCPOA do not do much harm to the international community.”

The situation has become so difficult for the regime that its Foreign Minister and his political deputy chose not to discuss the JCPOA in public and took the matter behind closed doors in the regime’s parliament. As for the news media, they only made some general remarks.  Since the last deadlock, regime officials have avoided attending any live programs.

This reaction shows that the regime is terrified of the exposure of its weakness and the Iranian people’s reaction.

In recent months, the regime had hoped to gain concessions from the Ukrainian war, which explains why many officials and media outlets started to support Russia’s invasion. But as always, the developments did not turn out as the regime had wished.

In an interview with ILNA, Sasan Karimi, one of the regime’s experts, said, “When we reached the end of 2021 after Russia delayed the invasion of Ukraine, there were changes in Iran’s policy, and some analysis was that our oil would be sold to energy carriers in the world at a higher price. Russia will not pay attention to sanctions against us.”

He added, “The second issue was that the West would refrain from dealing harshly with Iran because of the protracted JCPOA process and would try not to push Iran further toward Russia in the context of Russia’s war with Ukraine. As a result, Iran’s case was unlikely to go to the Security Council. Regardless of the support or non-support of Russia and China, the return of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran does not require the vote of these two countries.”

Karimi further stated, “These two points caused Iran to slow down the pace of the negotiation and ultimately stop it. I called this process of reviving the JCPOA ‘a small victory, but the prelude to a great defeat.’ We missed the chance of reviving the JCPOA. That is, we missed the opening that was created to provide the opportunity to invest and sell oil in the world, and on the other hand, we were able to sell 800,000 barrels of oil.”