Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, January 9, 2021—While the death toll of Iran’s coronavirus outbreak is nearing 200,000, the regime continues to dither on purchasing Covid-19 vaccines and is poised on inflicting even more pain and damage on the country’s population. On Friday, regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei delivered a televised address, in which he clearly stipulated his opposition to purchasing Covid-19 vaccines. “The entry of American and British Covid-19 vaccines into the country are banned. I have told this to our officials and now I am saying it publicly,” he said.
Khamenei’s denial of the coronavirus vaccine comes while many of the regime’s own experts and officials are acknowledging the efficiency of the vaccines. “People are seeing that in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, the spread of coronavirus has subsided due to the use of vaccines,” Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar, member of the National Covid-19 Task Force, said on December 12. “The people perceive the [Pfizer] vaccine as their savior,” the state-run Eqtesad-e Saramad wrote on December 17. On the same day, the state-run Jahan-e Sanat wrote: “The demand of all the country’s people is the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccine.”
Meanwhile, across the world, governments are procuring Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization and giving free vaccination to the people. “Eighty countries procured 7 billion doses of the Pfizer vaccine and are providing them to the people for free,” Jahan-e Sanat wrote on December 22.
What did Khamenei have to say about this? “If the Pfizer company can make the virus vaccine, why do they want to give it us?”
Khamenei reveals his true colors
It now becomes clear that behind the dithering and delay in the purchase and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines was Khamenei himself, the man who has the final say on all matters of state in Iran. Is it a matter of financial resource constraints? No. Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi, the head of Iran’s Medical Council, said on December 22: “The cost of procuring foreign vaccines for Iran will be less than $200 million, and this isn’t a sum that the government can’t cover.”
So why is Khamenei so insistent on banning foreign vaccines, even as Pfizer has declared that its vaccine is effective against the mutated strain of Covid-19 that has been spreading across the world recently?
The fact that Khamenei made the remarks himself instead of delegating them to one of his subordinates speaks volumes about the strategic importance of the decision to ban Covid-19 vaccines. This strategy is based on the two pillars of preserving his rule and looting as much of the country’s wealth as he can.
In the past 10 months, Khamenei has taken advantage of the coronavirus to consolidate his hold on power. This is why he has called it a “blessing” and has refrained from making any serious move to contain the spread of the virus. During the Covid-19 outbreak, the regime has continued to squander billions of dollars on its terrorist proxies, ballistic missile development, and its destructive nuclear program. Meanwhile, of the 1 billion euros he has committed to spend on the coronavirus response, only a fraction has been given to the health ministry.
At the same time, Khamenei is intent on using every opportunity to further expand his economic empire. Importing vaccines from other countries would deprive Khamenei and his cronies from a very lucrative profit-making opportunity. By banning the WHO vaccines, Khamenei wants to position himself and the companies he oversees to make huge profits from selling domestic vaccines. In this regard, Jahan-e Sanat wrote on December 14: “The Food and Drugs Organization is under immense pressure to approve the indigenous vaccine because an approval from the health ministry would result in massive revenue for the manufacturer of the vaccine.”
And who are the manufacturers? None other than the holdings that are under the control of Khamenei and the terrorist-designated Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). This is why in his Friday remarks, Khamenei outrageously said, “The vaccine being prepared for Covid-19 should not be questioned. This is our country’s pride. On one sample it has reached the human testing phase and has been successful. This should not be doubted… It has been successful until now and God willing it will be successful in the future.”
Ironically, the regime’s own experts warn that the domestic vaccine will not reach the mass-production and -usage phase before late June at the earliest.
Covid-19: Khamenei’s greatest ally
Khamenei’s remarks show that the regime supreme leader regards Covid-19 as one of his greatest allies, not a scourge of the Iranian people. And to maintain his hold on power, he will refrain from nothing, including defying science itself.
Meanwhile, Khamenei is faced with disarray in his own ranks, as many regime officials are questioning the wisdom the delay of purchasing foreign vaccines. Khamenei wanted to put an end to all disputes and make it clear what his position is on the globally approved vaccines.
But Khamenei’s remarks will place him in a difficult situation. He might have managed to quiet disputes among his own officials. But he has also destroyed all paths he previously had to escape accountability and lay the blame for the mishandling of the vaccination process on some lower official. This is undeniable evidence that Khamenei is to blame for hundreds of thousands of deaths Covid-19 has inflicted on the Iranian people. And the people will remember than the next time they come to the streets to protest and call for regime change.