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A Loan That Was Lost in the Sewage of the Iran Regime’s Corruption

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The sad story of Iran’s Khuzestan province has not ended. Drinking water, electricity, and health care are becoming people’s dreams, so speaking about inflation, unemployment, poverty, and misery is nonsense. Ahvaz and other cities of this province in addition to these miseries are facing the disaster of the municipal sewage.

The sewage not only flows on the streets of these cities, but with the slightest rain, the sewage erupts and overfloods all streets, alleys, people’s houses, and even hospitals and health centers.

This situation was so dramatic that international agencies decided to give a large loan to Iran to overcome this situation. But as usual in this corrupt regime, this money and aid did not reach the people and this resource was looted.

Amazingly, now after the latest protests by Khuzestan’s residents, the regime’s officials remember this loan and are asking each other about the fate of that $149 million which was given to the regime in 2005 by the World Bank.

This loan should have put an end to this health disaster but now it has become one of the main subjects of the people in the social media and public’s opinion.

And again, as usual, the response of the officials is no one knows what happened to this loan. This event was so inexplicable that the then governor was forced to call it “Money poisoning.”

Then the official as a red herring used the alibi of a dispute between the Water and Sewerage Company and the municipality.

“Khuzestan Water and Sewerage Authorities, instead of questioning how the previous credits were allocated, have started a war between water, sewage and the municipality.” (State-run daily Etemad, December 26, 2019)

In a factional dispute, the then governor said: “In Khuzestan, we have suffered from a kind of money poisoning, which means that the projects are funded, but nothing is done. Shariati sharply criticizes the implementation process of the Ahwaz Wastewater Treatment Plant and specifically the Provincial Water and Sewerage Company and says: ‘In the province and Ahvaz, not all issues are related to the lack of money and credit, this can be seen in the non-implementation of the Ahwaz Wastewater Treatment Plant, which in the last 15 years has been allocated a lot of credit resources, including a World Bank loan, but has been not fulfilled.” (State-run daily Etemad, December 26, 2019)

At the same time, the head of water and sewage in the province had said that “A former high-ranking official of the province was involved in the seizure of this loan in 2005, but this revelation was not tracked.” (IRNA, December 20, 2019)

He mocked this official and said: “Instead of announcing what happened to the World Bank money, he appeared as a plaintiff and becomes a pretender for the current situation of water and sewage in Ahvaz.” (IRNA, December 20, 2019)

Finally, the Friday Prayers Leader of Ahvaz added his voice: “In the early 2000s, the World Bank allocated a large amount of credit to solve the problem of sewage in Ahvaz and some parts of the country, but unfortunately these credits were not spent in this city.” (IRNA, December 20, 2019)

Since then, constantly the regime’s media are speaking and writing about this corruption and the disaster raised by it. Here are just a few examples:

“For the umpteenth time, billions of dollars will be allocated to regulate the province’s sewage situation. Due to the ambiguity in the way of allocating billion (tomans) budgets, the sewage situation of Khuzestan province is stagnated for many years.” (Etemad, December 26, 2019)

“So far, large budgets have been allocated to solve Ahwaz’s sewage problems, but the streets of the metropolis are still flooded with every rain and as soon as the ground gets wetter.” (Javan News Agency, December 27, 2020)

In the 2000s, the World Bank predicted the current situation of Ahwaz’s sewage system and considered a loan to improve the sewerage network, but it remains to be seen where the money of this loan was spent. After about a decade and a half, the Ahwaz sewage problem has not been solved.” (Mardom Salari, July 24, 2021)

“The loan agreement was signed in March 2004 in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Economy, the Deputy Minister of Energy, the Successor Minister of Energy, as well as representatives of the World Bank. But after the essence of the signing of this contract dried up and the change of government in 2005, until the end of the ninth government, Khuzestan sewage and the World Bank loan were forgotten. This loan may have been lost somewhere in history.” (Iran Plus, July 29, 2021)

Iran’s Regime Has Nothing To Offer but Weakness

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In recent years the weaknesses of Iran’s regime have become more transparent every day. From its weakness in the economy to lose its dominance in the country facing many huge protests which increased this weakness, to its international isolation, which is derived from its malign activities in the region, its support from the global terrorism and dictatorships sharing the same behavior with them.

The regime’s struggle to cover up this weakness with senseless activities like its missile and nuclear program not only does not help but increased the frustration of the people because of wasting their resources in such projects and increased the international will to counter the regime and preventing it from becoming a nuclear power.

Analyzing these weaknesses, it can be seen in the nuclear deal with world powers known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The regime hopes that the new US government after the Trump administration would accept the regime’s requests and would return to the 2015 JCPOA without and precautions and new requests, but this did not happen.

As reported by many of the regime’s outlets and websites the state-run website Asr-e-Iran on July 29, 2021, wrote: “The United States has warned that nuclear talks with Iran to revive the JCPOA will not continue indefinitely. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement in Kuwait yesterday (Thursday) that talks with Iran could not and should not continue indefinitely.

“Pointing out that now is the time for Tehran to decide, the senior US diplomat added: ” We’re committed to diplomacy, the ball remains in Iran’s court.”

Then this media acknowledged that the US did not accept the regime’s avarice and added: “According to a recent statement by Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, US diplomats in the last six rounds of the Vienna talks have refused to lift more than 500 sanctions against various Iranian individuals and entities.”

Frustrated about a JCPOA+, it continued: “According to Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, during the Vienna talks, the Americans insisted on including issues outside the scope of the Iranian nuclear issue and they have insisted on adding a clause on negotiations on regional issues to the agreement to revive the JCPOA.

“At the same time, Washington has stressed that the United States will wait for the establishment of the government of Iranian President-elect Ibrahim Raisi to continue the Vienna talks, but Washington limits the opportunity for Vienna talks to revive the JCPOA and there will be no further concessions from Washington.”

The AXIOS website interviewed a US official about Washington’s position, writing:

“The official stressed that the window for reaching a deal won’t be open for much longer, and the Iranians should return to the table quickly. “We also hope they don’t think they will get more than the previous government because they are tougher. It’s not about being tougher, it’s about fully implementing the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. The U.S. position will not change, and the Iranians will not be able to reinvent the nuclear deal or be in a situation where they do less, and we do more.” (AXIOS, July 28, 2021)

Kazem Gharib Abadi in another interview about the defeat of the negotiations said: “The Americans tied the whole understanding to the acceptance of future talks on regional issues, which is completely irrelevant and harmful to the subject of negotiations. The lifting of some sanctions, as well as the removal of the name of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the list of terrorist groups, was directly conditional on the acceptance of this clause.

“The Americans refused to guarantee in the negotiations that they would not repeat the same behavior of the previous administration in the face of the nuclear deal, and even refused to lift sanctions against more than 500 individuals and entities – who were sanctioned by the Trump administration on non-nuclear grounds. They also did not repeal the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).”

But that’s not all. The situation for the regime is getting so bad that state TV was forced to admit that they no longer have the opportunity for lobbying the US government and are losing this aiding political ground.

The state TV Channel Two on July 28 reported: “Now you see a week among the US senators, some of them are writing letters. Many of them are writing letters to Mr. Biden that whatever agreement you make with Iran when we come to power, we will destroy all these agreements.

“You do not need to stand until 2024 for the next election in the United States. Next year you have the congressional election 2022 and the gap between Democrats and Republicans in the US Senate is one vote, one seat. And the US Senate looks set to fall to Republicans next year.

“Now that the US Senate is in the hands of the Democrats, the chairman of their foreign policy commission is Mr. Bob Menendez, who was a speaker at the hypocrites’ (MEK/PMOI) meeting last week.

“This means that this democrat, who is now influential in US policy towards Iran because of the role that the US Congress has in foreign policy, is the speaker of this group of hypocrites.”

Finally, a regime expert in international affairs Mohammad Jamshidi pointed to the main reason for the regime’s weakness and said:

“The 2009 sedition (2009 protests) that took place, after which we had the resolution of 1929 and the heavy unilateral sanctions of the United States. Haj Qasem Soleimani was martyred because of the riots of November 2019. When the other side sees that you are weak and confused, he moves towards hitting more.”

Iran Regime’s Bad Situation in Iraq

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“One damn thing after another.” This is what the Iranian regime is facing at an increasing tendency. The miserable situation inside the country, successive crises, the uncertainty surrounding the regime’s nuclear talks with world powers (JCPOA), and the increasing global pressure. Now it is losing its regional sphere of influence and its markets.

Evidence of this is the recent strategic agreement between the United States and Iraq, which seems to have been reached as a result of last week’s talks between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Washington.

If we take a look at the visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister to the United States and the strategic talks for the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq, which according to the state media analysis is a kind of redefining the American presence in Iraq, its result as the regime’s analysts say is not in favor of the regime and it has frightened the regime.

Iran’s regime has always had a special view of Iraq, relying on its religious and cultural commonalities, as well as Iraqis’ appreciation for Iran’s services, including helping to eliminate the threat of ISIS in many areas as the regime’s elements claimed, in the hope that it will become a friend and brother for this regime in difficult times. And the regime’s officials hoped that the Iraqi government which is under the pressure of its people because of the regime’s malign activities in this country, could easily forget and ignore all these malign behaviors and become an ally to this regime before the US.

A role that experts believe that Iraq will help the regime by delivering money to the regime and circumventing sanctions or open its large market to the regime which is the closest and most accessible.

Now if this regime is not able to give more aids to Iraq as its officials claim, it is natural that the Iraqi government will fill this gap with the US who are now promising many supports to the Iraqi government. And Iran is moving away from Iraq’s foreign policy priorities and is being marginalized. Which is a nightmare for the regime.

Seyed Jalal Sadatian, a so-called Middle East expert affiliated to the regime, about the regime’s loss of influence in Iraq confessed: “Undoubtedly, Iran and the United States are competing for side by side in Iraq. At one time, Saudi Arabia was doing this, and countries close to the United States were competing with Iran. Iran, however, has a stronger cultural base and a long history in Iraq. Of course, they also worked on those areas.

“For example, Iran had a relatively good base in Najaf, Karbala, and the Shiite areas of southern Iraq, but some currents in Iraq provoked so much that they also chanted slogans against Iran. Even in the matches that were held, in the same stadium that Iran had built, they chanted slogans against Iran.”

He added: “These events show that Iran’s rivals are not inactive and are working hard to eliminate the position that Iran had in Iraq and relied on it to save them in many areas from ISIS. For example, the formation of Hashad al-Shaabi is one of the things that Martyr Soleimani did and increased the Iraqi resistance base to maintain his position and his land.

“Then we see that these things are going in the direction of chanting slogans against Iran and making things difficult for Iran. Now, should we see that Iran’s situation with Iraq, that is, its demands, or that it is said, for example, that Iran should provide water and electricity to Iraq, can be continued according to Iran’s economic conditions?

“When it fails, and on the other hand, tempting offers are made to Iraq and they accept to help financially, build infrastructure, and while Iran is under pressure from sanctions and severe economic weakness, the current situation must have an impact on Iran-Iraq relations.

“But this does not mean that Iran should be expelled in the short term. However, conditions are not good for Iran.” (Nameh, July 26, 2021)

Hojjatollah Judaki, the regime’s expert on international issues, confirmed this situation and in an interview with the Jahan-e-Sanat said:

“The United States will certainly not do anything to its detriment, and this cooperation will certainly strengthen its position. Of course, it can also strengthen the position of the current rulers of Iraq. Since we have a conflict of interest with the United States, this will naturally be to our detriment.”

The conclusion is easy and clear, as the regime’s analysts said, the situation is not in Iran’s regime’s favor, and in the most optimistic case, they can only count on some past cultural backgrounds and collaborations which they are hoping that the Iraqis will not forget.

Iran Regime’s Biological Weapon: The Coronavirus

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The coronavirus situation in Iran is a long time out of control and the regime not only does not care about the people’s health and life but is using the pandemic as a biological weapon against the people to prevent any gathering and protest as we have witnessed in the past days.

So that with the start of the protests the regime decided under the alibi of the spread of the coronavirus to close Tehran but as Mohsen Hashemi, Chairman of Tehran City Council, about the failure of this decision said: “Compliance with health protocols in Tehran has been severely curtailed and the number of deaths due to corona has exceeded six.

“It seems that the 4-day holiday has not been effective and has had an even worse effect, so Tehran should think about it and the Coronavirus headquarters should hold a special meeting in this regard.” (Sharefarda website, July 27, 2021)

Maryam Shahsamandi, a journalist and social researcher, in a short text published in the Taadol newspaper about the situation in Iran on July 27, 2021, wrote:

“Minister of Health! Do you know that the death toll has reached over 300 people a day? You know, this 300 is not just a number. Those are dear souls that perish in the shadow of carelessness.

“Do you know that Remdesivir is not available in pharmacies? You know, many coronavirus patients can’t even afford their treatment. I lost my mother because of the coronavirus. You know, we spent tens of millions to finally get her dead body.

“You have not lost someone so that you understand our pain who have lost someone. I lost my aunt because of the coronavirus too. She died in the ambulance because no hospital in Karaj had an empty bed to admit her. Minister of Health! Master of the coronavirus! What about the seven vaccines that were unveiled and robbed you of a good night’s sleep because of your happiness?

“How long are we going to be captivated by slogans and promises and reality hit like a slap our face? Do you know what it means to lose, someone? Do you even know that every number you announce in the form of coronavirus death statistics means how many families are mourning?

“Master of the coronavirus! When will your promises be fulfilled? How long do people have to watch their loved ones die before they decide to start a nationwide vaccination?

“Now the coronavirus does not only take the lives of adults. Now it has found new prey, now the sweet souls of children are in danger, and you are still lecturing, with what remarkable literature.

“Minister of Health! No one is well these days, not the people, not the medical staff, not those who have been witnessing unplanned and carelessness all this time. Do you know how many nurses in which hospitals have not received their salaries and arrears for months?

“Do you know that, unlike you, they are risking their lives and are taking care of the sick people of their land? Which hospitals do you have visited intrusive?

“Master of coronavirus! What made you disband the National Coronavirus Headquarters? Why did you shy away from even a simple apology to the people for the rude behavior and speeches of your colleagues, and in Sistan and Baluchestan you adopted the same literature?

“These days are passing. You know very well that we are more resilient than you can imagine. You know very well that these people are nobler than they want to make you accountable.

“You know very well how the coronavirus and this crisis-ridden economy have plagued the people. But what have you done instead of all this decency and resilience? Every day a new promise, every day a new order that of course has no executive guarantee.

“We are lost among all this sorrow and loss. It is hard for us to even laugh anymore. Do something before it is too late, Mr. Master of Coronavirus!”

Iran Regime’s Solution To Prevent the Expansion of Protests: National Internet

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Statements by Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Iranian regime’s Assembly of Experts on cyberspace and the new government’s call for more restrictions on the free internet, have once again brought the issue of filtering and blocking internet space to the forefront of the news.

Ahmad Khatami had said in his speech that “all countries that have Internet technology have restricted the use of the Internet for their target community” and therefore called on the new president, Ibrahim Raisi, to address the issue of “national Internet” as soon as possible in Iran.

The remarks come ahead of a controversial “protection of cyberspace users” bill in parliament. The majority of parliamentary seats are held by principlist MPs, and as a result, concerns about the re-closure of cyberspace have spread on the Internet by the Iranian people.

Previously, the regime’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, in April and June of this year, called the word “national Internet” “fake” and stated that what is referred to as the national Internet is the national information network and “we in the national information network are not looking to cut ties with the world. We are looking for a regional market. If the idea of ​​anyone in the country is to build something called the national Internet, it is not technically possible at all.”

“Go and read the National Information Network document,” Azari Jahromi told the Etemad daily, rejecting the issue of the national Internet.

The document explaining the requirements of the National Information Network has been prepared by the “National Cyberspace Center” and has been posted on related websites.

So here we are dealing with a “public” document, but surprisingly, parts of this document have been censored and kept out of the reach of experts and audiences as “unpublishable.”

The document presents the definition of a national information network as follows:

“According to the first resolution of the 15th session of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, the National Information Network, as the country’s cyberspace communication infrastructure, is a network-based on Internet contracts along with switches, routers, and data centers.

“In such a way that internal access requests for obtaining information stored in internal data centers are not routed through foreign countries in any way and it makes possible to create a private and secure internal internet networks in it.”

Not including the “unpublishable” part, with the definition of the national information network, makes the function and goals of this network ambiguous.

For example, Article 3-4 of this document entitled “National Information Network Management” in the third paragraph is announced as “unpublishable”.

But the fourth paragraph of this article states:

“Integrated management in the allocation and optimal use of national resources (such as name and address) and monitoring should be done in such a way as to minimize the impact of the use of international resources and policies and principles governing global networks and the possibility of independent management, especially in the case of network separation from the global Internet.”

Putting these two clauses together, one unpublishable and the other emphasizing the work that is done when the global internet is down raises doubts about ensuring that the Internet is not cut off.

In the third paragraph of the first article of paragraph 1-4-5 of this document, the issue goes even further, and the authors have stated that it should be possible to, provide intelligence and monitoring supervision, the possibility of legal eavesdropping and comprehensive supervision, protection against supervision and foreign influence, and comprehensive refinement and sanitation should be done in cyberspace.”

Article 4 of this clause is completely censored and has become “unpublishable”. This is repeated in Articles 9 and 10.

The first paragraph of Article 4-2 of this document states (National Information Network): “It is possible to monitor, supervise and apply various governance policies in all dimensions and layers of the network.”

Much of the Internet traffic is distributed internationally. Therefore, it raises the question that if such a law is implemented, Internet providers will cooperate with “Iranian government policies” in the field of cyberspace. If not, what happens then? Filtering or blocking access? This is also one of the ambiguities. But it seems that the regime has no other solution to “disrupted or interrupted the internet”, in cases of protests and uprisings which is the main concern of the rule.

In an interview with Etemad, the regime’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology in response to why the Internet was completely cut off during the November 2019 protests and who was responsible for its possible losses said: “All over the world, when a country’s national security is endangered, its officials limit all possibilities, which leads to chaos and disorder, and this is why it happened.”

Jahromi confirmed in the same conversation that, “the severe internet disruption in November 2019 was ordered by the National Security Council.”

In another resolution, the regime’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace approved a plan entitled “The Grand Plan and Architecture of the National Information Network” in October last year, which also includes an “unpublishable” item. The resolution outlines some of the practical goals of the National Information Network, which explicitly addresses restrictions on the global Internet, such as “elimination of dependence on GPS “or” determining the share of 70 to 30 traffic for internal and external services “or” tariffing 2 to 3 times access to external content in front of the national information network.”

So, it becomes clear that signs of restrictions on the Internet and cyberspace are more visible than ever in the national document of the National Information Network.

Why the Iranian Economy Is in Tatters

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Iranian Foreign Affairs Commentator and research analyst Cyrus Yaqubi have written an op-ed about the Iranian economy, where he spoke about how the crisis has been made worse under each subsequent president and advised that the problems have not been caused by sanctions but rather by the mullahs’ actions.

Yaqubi advises that during the 40 years of the regime, the country has earned some $ 1,377 billion from selling oil – $700 billion during the eight-year presidency of Ahmadinejad alone – but yet the economy is still ruined and the country is nearly bankrupt.

How? Well, Ahmadinejad spent much of the country’s income on the Revolutionary Guards, terrorism, domestic repression, and missile programs, which meant that the people never saw that money.

This only got worse during Rouhani’s subsequent eight-year presidency, with Iranians only getting more money stolen from them, as proven by the revelations that have come out over the last few years. One of these involved Sepah Bank CEO Ali Rastegar Sorkheh and Rouhani’s brother Hossein Fereydoun embezzling 3,700 billion tomans, but because of Rouhani’s involvement, he has tried to ignore or justify the corruption cases, even blaming the issues of sanctions.

Yaqubi wrote: “According to a regime official, at least 80% of the country’s problems are due to mismanagement and corruption, which have nothing to do with the sanctions.  Experts say Iran’s devastating economy has never been worse in the past 42 years. Not even during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war has the situation in Iran been so critical.”

He then said that new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi doesn’t know “anything about management or the economy”, so the problems will only get worse because of this year’s budget deficit, which will lead to banknote printing, liquidity growth, and inflation. With inflation now at 80% for some essential items and 60% of the country in poverty, this seems to be a dangerous situation indeed.

Yaqubi wrote: “This situation cannot last long, and the impoverished Iranians are facing poverty, unemployment, the COVID-19 virus, droughts, unannounced and extended blackouts, and many other economic problems. The Iranians are suppressed through the regime’s violent crackdowns. However, the Iranian people cannot be suppressed forever, and the collapse of the corrupt regime is close. Many analysts, even regime insiders, describe the current social environment as a powder keg waiting to explode.”

Thus, he advised, that many experts are already predicting that Raisi will not be in power for the entire four-year first term.

Raisi’s Execution Tactics Exposed

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Ebrahim Raisi will become president of Iran in just over a week, even though (or perhaps, because) his resume is filled with crimes against the Iranian people and humanity. Shortly after his ascension was announced, Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnès Callamard criticized Raisi’s rise to the second-most powerful position in the country.

Callamard wrote: “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran…”

Let’s look into that a little more.

Executions

The Iranian regime is the world leader in executions per capita because the mullahs use the death penalty as a tool for repression, murdering political activists to intimidate the wider public into submission, although it should be noted that this doesn’t just apply to the regime’s enemies.

This has increased markedly during Raisi’s stint as Judiciary Chief from 2019 until 2021, not least because of the crackdown on the 2019 uprising, which led to 1,500 protesters being slaughtered in just a few days, while 12,000 more were arrested; many of whom are still in prison.

This does include many women, including mothers of young children, as the execution of them has also increased under Raisi.

In July 2019, political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee wrote an open letter, in which she discussed women on death row, noting that many of them were victims of domestic abuse who had snapped and killed their husband, father, or brother after years of violence because the regime offers no legal way for women to escape.

One of these women is Mohabbat Mahmoudi, 64, who has been on death row for 20 years after she killed a man – Hatam Mahmoudi Gonbadi – who broke into her home, armed with a knife and intending to rape her and her daughter. He stabbed Mahmoudi three times before she accidentally fired a gun at him and he was still holding the knife when the police arrived.

In February, Zahra Esma’ili was executed just minutes after suffering a heart attack because she saw others being executed in front of her, even though she was innocent and had only taken responsibility for the murder of her husband – Alireza Zamani – to protect her teenage daughter, who snapped after years of abuse by the Intelligence agent.

Another woman, 24-year-old Zeinab Sekaanvand was hanged in 2018, despite international calls for a pardon, after seven years on death row for killing her abusive husband who she was forced to marry at 15. She was given the death penalty even though international law bars the execution of people who are under 18 at the time of their crime.

The Iranian Resistance wrote: “In Iran, executions and killing continue unabated, tarnishing the nation’s history. Grief continues as well, and the calls seeking justice will never be forgotten. Families’ pain and suffering will never be forgotten, either, including for orphans whose parents were tortured and executed. Thus, the calls for justice by the mothers and other loved ones of the executed will not be forgotten. Surely, one day, Ebrahim Raisi will be brought to justice.”

Khuzestan Water Shortages Protests

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The Khuzestan protests over water shortages entered their 12th consecutive day on Monday, with demonstrations spreading to other cities and becoming more centered on regime change, despite the officials’ attempt to squash protests through military might and an internet blackout.

Protests were reported in Alborz, Kermanshah, Tehran, and more but because of the internet blockade, it’s taking longer for photos and videos of the demonstrations or the clashes between protesters and security forces to be released to the wider world.

In Tehran’s Jomhuri Street, protesters held a massive rally calling for regime change and for supreme leader Ali Khamenei to resign, chanting “Khamenei, have shame and let go of the state”. They also criticized the mullahs for their terrorism and warmongering.

While, in Kermanshah, several demonstrations have been held in support of the Khuzestan protests, even blocking a road in the Shahrak-e Mahdiyeh district, so security forces opened fire. This was also true in Karaj, where people gather after sunset to chant “From Karaj to Khuzestan, unity, unity”, “Iranians will rather die than live in disgrace”, and “Down with Khamenei”.

The state-run media have warned that these protests could well spur another nationwide protest like that of November 2019 because the people’s anger has only been suppressed over the past two years because of violence by the authorities and pandemic precautions.

The Hamdeli Daily wrote: “Some people enter these protests with political motives… and are leading the protests toward political goals and slogans against the political establishment.”

While the Fars News Agency wrote: “In the Jomhuri Street market after the electricity was cut off, merchants rallied and protested. Several people tried to sway the protests toward political goals.”

Even officials like MP Mohammad Taghi Naqdali began to speak about the water crisis protests and how this could lead to major protests.

He said: “In Isfahan, there is a serious crisis and fire under the ashes… See the situation of farmers and ranchers in front of Isfahan Governor’s Office since yesterday. Today, Khuzestan, despite having several billion or more than 10 billion cubic meters of water behind the dams, is experiencing the crisis that we are witnessing.”

He explained that 5.5 million Isfahan residents are facing a crisis even though there are 300 million cubic meters of water behind the Zayandehrud dam.

He said: “It has been two months since two crises like the Khuzestan’s crisis have come to pass in Isfahan. Today, there is still a crisis.”

Iran’s Failed Economic Policies Lead to Loss of Food Security

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In the field of economics, there are two types of challenges. First, urgent issues, and second, long-term problems. In this report, we examine the immediate economic issues facing the Iranian regime’s new government.

The budget deficit and the problem of providing basic goods seem to be the most important immediate challenges facing the government in the field of economy. A budget with a heavy deficit facing Raisi’s government and economic indicators shows the acute conditions that the new government will face at the beginning of its activity, which will begin in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the budget deficit, the forecasts of which show a minimum of 300 trillion and a maximum of 450 trillion tomans, is the most important problem facing the new government.

The general budget of the government for 2021 was finalized with resources and expenditures of 1,370 trillion Tomans.

In the meantime, apart from tax revenues and sales of government goods and services, which are projected at about 455 thousand billion Tomans and seem not to be achievable, a significant part of the resources obtained from the transfer of state-owned companies amounting to 256 thousand billion Tomans, sale of securities with 132 trillion Tomans, oil revenues with 349 trillion Tomans and resources from the sale of government property with 45,000 miles are not feasible too.

In this regard, the budget performance of the government in the first four months of this year, although not officially published, but the news and some figures show that the above figures have been achieved to a very small extent which is not significant and will solve nothing.

For example, oil sales revenue is based on daily sales of 1.5 million barrels for $55, while various statistics have stated that the amount of oil sales in 2021 is 700,000 barrels per day and the average price is about $70.

Predicting the continuation of this trend until the end of the year, about 40% of oil revenues, equivalent to about 140 trillion tomans will not be realized.

Regarding the transfer of state-owned companies, although in recent weeks 100 trillion tomans of government debt were transferred to social security in the form of debt relief, the possibility of further transfer, especially through the stock exchange, is difficult due to relatively fragile conditions. Only 100 trillion tomans have been achieved, and no other significant amount can be transferred.

In terms of bond sales, the Central Bank statistics show sales of only 4.9 trillion tomans by the end of July, if the same trend continues, if until the end of the year a figure of more than 15 trillion tomans of bond sales is not achieved, the government will face a deficit of 117 trillion tomans by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the outgoing government has started the definite expenses foreseen in the budget, including increasing the salaries of employees and retirees, equalizing their salaries, and some other measures, such as increasing job and managerial extras for some groups, which will result in the realization of 100% of current expenses.

In such circumstances, the government has received a salary equivalent to 40 trillion tomans from the central bank at the beginning of the year, which the budget deficit will cause unsettlement and even increase the funds or other inflationary financing methods from the central bank and banks.

The challenge of reducing costs has social and welfare implications for wage earners, and its continuation will lead to budget deficits and rising inflation.

The 13th government’s shortage of basic commodities is set in a situation where the alarm for basic food commodities is already sounding.

Basic food products refer to the price and production of goods such as milk, meat, eggs, etc., the production of which depends on livestock inputs such as cereals.

While Iran is even among the top 10 countries in the world in the production of some of these products such as chicken, but in terms of self-sufficiency in the production of inputs, it is not in a good position at all and this issue has become the Achilles heel for Iranian food security.

Statistics of dependence on the country’s foreign trade statistics last year show that this year, out of a total of about $38.9 billion in total imports of goods, about $12.3 billion, or 31 percent, was allocated to imports of basic goods.

Also, the report of Fars News Agency, quoting the customs spokesman, states that the three goods of corn, barley, and soybean meal as poultry and meat production inputs, weighing more than 13.4 million tons have allocated 58% of the total weight of imports of basic goods to themselves.

What has happened this year is that the dependence of the production of basic goods on the import of livestock inputs has led to an increase in the exchange rate along with general inflation in recent months, causing costs to grow along the supply chain of livestock products.

On July 14 this year, the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad reported that the increase in world prices of imported inputs and other expenditure items in the new year, along with the unprecedented drought in the country, general price inflation and a significant increase in fodder prices compared to the previous year, drastically increase the cost of livestock production.

This, combined with false and seemingly consumer-friendly controls, has led, for example, that farmers were forced to slaughter their livestock and even their productive livestock.

Accordingly, the slaughter of light and heavy livestock in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same period last year increased by 71 and 84%, respectively, and this trend has intensified.

Emphasizing price reform (in the case of raw milk, which can be extended to other parts of the supply chain), the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad has warned that the elimination of productive livestock, in addition to the loss of capital and genetic resources of the country’s livestock, will soon lead to decreased milk and meat production to an alarming point and drastically reduces the total livestock population.

On the other hand, given the 3.5 to 4-year generation gap, there will be no way to compensate for the declining livestock population in the medium term, putting the country at risk of a shortage of milk and meat.

Iran Water Protests Revive Opportunities and Threats From Earlier Nationwide Uprisings

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On or about July 15, residents of the Iranian province of Khuzestan began protesting over severe and persistent water shortages, often calling attention to the role that government policies had in creating that situation, as well as the lack of interest the government has shown in providing the people with relief from a worsening crisis. Since then, the protests have continued without interruption and have spread to other areas that are suffering from their own water shortages, as well as to cities whose residents simply wish to express solidarity with Khuzestan’s activist community.

That solidarity was present from the outset, but it has surged with the news of a violent response from Iranian authorities. The government has made a concerted effort to slow the dissemination of reports concerning the repression of dissent, but some information has managed to spread among the activist community in spite of complete internet outages orchestrated by Tehran. Among that information is the fact that over a dozen people have been killed since the unrest began. The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran has identified twelve individuals by name who were felled by authorities gunfire, and the pro-democracy Resistance group has noted that a number of other deaths have already occurred, though the identities of those victims have yet to be confirmed.

The PMOI and other on-the-ground observers of the developing situation have also reported mass arrests among direct participants in the protest movement as well as among known and suspected activists whom the regime believes could be involved in planning and organization. The overall situation is worryingly reminiscent of crackdowns on previous protest movements, including nationwide uprisings that took place at the beginning of 2018 and near the end of 2019.

In the first place, around 60 protesters were either shot dead or fatally tortured during and immediately after protests in January 2018. Those protests featured provocative anti-government slogans like “death to the dictator” and thus made ruling officials noticeably concerned about the growth of popular pressure in the direction of regime change. While the 2018 uprising was at its height, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei took the unusual step of publicly admitting that the PMOI – a group long dismissed as a “cult” in regime propaganda – was a major driving force behind the unrest.

This acknowledgment of political vulnerability made the regime especially sensitive to resurgent unrest in the aftermath of the initial crackdown. PMOI leader Maryam Rajavi, who also stands at the head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, called for Iranian activists to make the rest of 2018 a “year full of uprisings,” and many groups of protesters obliged her by staging scattered demonstrations that were technically separate from the earlier nationwide uprising but also featured many of the same slogans and explicit calls for regime change.

Those demonstrations helped to keep anti-government slogans in mainstream circulation pending the second uprising in November 2019, and when it erupted spontaneously following the announcement of a sharp increase in government-set gasoline prices, regime authorities responded with outright panic. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered security forces to restore order by any means, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps promptly opened fire on crowds of protesters all across the country. Approximately 1,500 people were killed in a matter of days and mass arrests led to at least 12,000 people being detained. Many of the detainees were then subjected to systematic torture over the course of months, as authorities sought to secure false confessions and set the stage for harsh prosecution, including prosecution for capital crimes.

Now many critics of the Iranian regime are understandably concerned that this pattern may be repeating in the present circumstances. Those concerns are amplified by the fact that the IRGC has personally carried out at least 100 arrests, as well as by the fact that both the Iranian judiciary and the executive branch of government will soon be firmly in the hands of hardline figures with a long history of human rights abuses and no qualms whatsoever about promoting mass executions or attacking protesters with fatal intent.

On August 5, Ebrahim Raisi will be inaugurated as Iran’s next president, having been promoted as an apparent reward for his role in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and his leadership of the judiciary during the November 2019 crackdown. He has already been replaced as judiciary chief by Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, an equally notorious hanging judge whose legacy includes participation in a spate of assassinations of expatriate dissidents during the 1980s and 90s.

Between July 10 and 12, the National Council of Resistance of Iran held an international summit on Iranian affairs during which dozens of the coalition’s activists and political supporters delivered speeches that emphasized the danger facing the Iranian people and the entire world with the advent of the Raisi era. Maryam Rajavi predicted in one such speech that the new era would be one in which “the hostility and enmity between the Iranian regime and society will intensify more than ever before.” She also suggested that it would be a “litmus test” for European and American commitment to the human rights principles that are so threatened by authoritarian attacks on the Iranian people.

These predictions were already well-founded at the time of the Free Iran World Summit, days before the outbreak of water shortage protests in Khuzestan and at least a week before related demonstrations were recorded in Tehran, Tabriz, Saqqez, Zanjan, Mahashahr, and other localities throughout the Islamic Republic. Now, it is easy to argue that the “hostility and enmity” Mrs. Rajavi was referring to is already emerging on a grand scale, with both positive and negative implications for the Iranian people and their supporters.

On one hand, the new protests demonstrate the continuation of defiant attitudes toward depression which were on display in the months following the November 2019 crackdown, when activists continued to protest the entire Iranian regime despite the fact that 1,500 people had just been killed and others were facing the possibility of capital punishment. On the other hand, the present crackdown underscores the fact that Tehran has faced few, if any, consequences for that mass killing, and therefore may have no real incentive to avoid a similar or worse outcome in the present scenario.

That is presumably why the NCRI, in its statement regarding the deaths of a dozen peaceful protests, reiterated the call to international action that had already been issued repeatedly during the summit. “The Iranian Resistance urges the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Security Council, the European Union, and its member states to condemn these crimes against humanity and take the necessary steps to confront [the] regime [over] committing crimes against humanity for more than four decades,” the statement said. “The leaders of the regime must be brought to justice and the UN Security Council must initiate any action needed to [achieve] this end.”