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Iran’s rulers try to dampen public outrage with vague promises of financial support

Iranian officials are afraid of the consequences of their wrong decisions
Iranian officials are afraid of the consequences of their wrong decisions

Reporting by PMOI/MEK  

Iran, April 15, 2020—The immense pressure on the Iranian regime for its mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak and its hoarding of the national wealth when the people need financial support has forced Iranian officials to backtrack on some of their destructive policies. Most prominent among them was the decision of regime president Hassan Rouhani, who declared on Tuesday that the government would be canceling a 12-percent interest that would be applied to the cash handouts given to families during the COVID-19 outbreak. But while Rouhani has been trying to sell the move as immense generosity and an economic achievement, the truth is that it is only a band-aid measure that can only be described as too little, too late.

The mullahs’ version of generosity

According to Rouhani, the government declared that the 10-million-rial (approx. $60) loan that was supposed to be given to the people at a 12-percent interest rate will be transformed into an interest-free. Rouhani said that the government will pay for the interest, which is an absurd notion since the government was the recipient of the interest in the first place.

Rouhani added that the money will be deposited in people's accounts around April 20 and the repayments will start in late June in installments of 350,000 rials per month, which will be deducted from the 450,000-rial monthly cash subsidy.

In this way, those who get cash subsidy will receive only 100,000 rials in a month, less than a dollar.

Beholding people for a $60 interest-free loan is a feeble attempt at dampening the rage of the people as the threat of nationwide protests mounts. Rouhani’s decision came at a time that many of the regime’s own officials were warning about the possibility of protests due to the deteriorating economic conditions of the population and the regime’s mishandling of the situation. Even some of the clerics in Qom had warned against charging interests on loans to impoverished people.

Aside from Rouhani, Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, has sensed the threat to his regime. In this regard, Hossein Salami, the commander of Khamenei's Revoluionary Guards (IRGC), announced the formation of a base called Imam Hassan Base for a “faithful help” to 3.5 million families in need. In a joint meeting with Minister of Mining Industry and Trade, Head of the Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution, Head of the Execution of Khomeini's Order (EIKO), Head of Khomeini Relief Foundation and the Head of the IRGC Basij, Salami called on people and benevolent to join the campaign.

To be clear, there’s a strong precedent of the regime gathering donations to ostensibly help the people but later using the funds for its terrorism and destructive projects. It remains to be seen how “faithful” Salami’s plan is, but if the past is prologue, the people won’t see much of the money that is being collected by the IRGC.

Not to be outdone by the others, Ebrahim Raisi, the criminal head of the regime’s judiciary, announced that he will allocate 20 percent of his monthly salary for three months to help those affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Raisi also claimed that following Khamenei’s order, the underprivileged families of prisoners will be supported financially, but did not announce the amount.

Too little, too late

It is unclear if these measures are demonstrative or not, and the answer will be left to the test of time. The regime’s leaders will have to dig deep into their pockets if they truly want to solve the Iranian society’s problems. As far as the figures and the regime’s history show, and as has been the case in the past four decades, the people of Iran can’t expect the regime to provide much help in times of need.

But what this entire episode proves is that the regime had the means to support the people from the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. The question is, why did it take so long for the regime to tap into its financial resources?

The truth is, while the people of Iran were withering and dying from the coronavirus outbreak, the regime was fast busy taking advantage of the suffering of the people to score political points and to extort the international community for economic benefits. Regime officials were blaming U.S. sanctions for their mishandling of the situation while sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of assets. They went as far as lifting work restrictions and reopening the economy at a time that the spread of the virus has not been contained yet. The mullahs proved once again that the last thing that matters to them is the people’s health and lives.

As their pressure campaign didn’t bear fruit, they started facing another problem. The deepening crisis threatened to cause massive social protests, a fact that many regime officials have pointed out to. The regime’s vast economic fortune is not a secret among the Iranian people, and even some officials started to question the wisdom of sending people back to work while the institutions such as Astan-e Quds and Mostazafan Foundation had the means to support continued quarantines.

So if Rouhani and Khamenei are grudgingly spending trickles from their fortunes, it’s because they are fearing the existential threat to their regime, and they will only go as far as ensuring the continued survival of their tyrannical rule.

Reacting to Khamenei's and Rouhani's reluctant decision on not charging interest on a one-million-toman loan to people out of their fear of an uprising, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said: the people of Iran are not begging the mullahs for charity. The Iranian people's wealth, which is stolen by the IRGC, foundations controlled by Khamenei and the Astan-e Quds Razavi endowment, must be wrested out of the mullahs' control and put in the service of health, treatment, and needs of the people of Iran, especially the deprived and the hungry.

“The IRGC and the regime’s major financial institutions, that have plundered the Iranian people’s wealth, can pay for the expenses of workers, wage earners and the unemployed to protect them during the lockdown to protect them from contracting the COVID-19” Mrs. Rajavi added.