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Iran: New Persian year, new regime crises

Young Iranian protesters in Tehran chant “Down with Khamenei” in reference to regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – January 2020
Young Iranian protesters in Tehran chant “Down with Khamenei” in reference to regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – January 2020

Analyzing by PMOI/MEK

Iran, March 21, 2021—Another Persian year of suffering has passed under the mullahs’ theocracy in Iran. The exhausting economic and social crisis, high coronavirus casualties, and intensified repression was the result of a brutal dictatorship. For the regime, however, it was more than ever before a year full of major blows that brought the mullahs’ establishment closer to its end.

Economic and social circumstances

During the past year, skyrocketing prices placed immense pressure on the people, pushing the poverty line to 80 percent. The middle class has almost disappeared, and millions of families are added to the extremely poor lower class. In some cases, even bread is bought in installments.

 

The collapse of the stock market has triggered a new crisis. The regime encouraged the people to invest in stocks while many banks were bankrupt. Three million people lost their assets as a result. “The state confiscated 2,500 trillion rials (around $9.2 billion) from the initial of ‘justice shares’ for its own benefit,” according to a piece by the state-run Javan daily on June 14, 2020.

“People’s wealth was stolen to finance government budget deficits, reaching 2,730 trillion rials (around $10.8 billion) in 2020,” according to the regime’s Majlis (Parliament) news agency on December 13, 2020, adding that the 2021 budget deficit is about to be 3,340 trillion tomans (around $13.25 billion).

 

The year began with the disastrous coronavirus outbreak engulfing the entire country at the end of the year. The latest death toll is 234,600 in 522 cities checkered across all of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to reports tallied by the Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). But the future does not look bright as the regime continues to delay on providing vaccines.

On April 1, 2020, regime Supreme leader Ali Khamenei described Covid-19 as a blessing and an opportunity. In all his remarks throughout the year, Khamenei downplayed the situation and covered up the regime’s negligence about the beginning of the outbreak. He also firmly rejected any quarantine of the cities and based his strategy on high human casualties due to Covid-19 aiming to prevent a new wave of nationwide protests.

On March 6, regime President Hassan Rouhani questioned the global vaccination campaign. “The production of vaccines is limited in the world. You can't make vaccines for the whole world... even if there is vaccination, its injection and immunity is limited,” Rouhani said.

Major blow against the regime’s export of terrorism

On February 4, a Belgian criminal court sentenced Vienna-based Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi to 20 years in prison for his leading role in a terrorist plot against the massive 2018 Iranian Resistance rally in France. Three other terrorists of Iranian descent who were under Assadi’s command were sentenced to 15, 17, and 18 years in prison. The court of Antwerp clearly point out that the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was behind the plot, the attack’s order was from Iran and the explosive device was smuggled by Assadi in a diplomatic pouch in a business flight from Tehran to Vienna. This showed once again that the whole power hierarchy of the regime, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the MOIS, was involved in a terrorist attack on European soil.

Assadi’s condemnation came as a humiliating blow to the regime on the international stage. The relations of western countries with the clerical regime changed qualitatively. The regime is in a much lower and weaker position globally and relationships with Tehran are strongly questioned by many European lawmakers.

Internal conflicts

The result of the regime’s countless crises was an increasing conflict of power between various factions. The 2020 legislative elections had the lowest turnout in history and Khamenei tried to unify his regime by putting former Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) commander Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf as the Majlis speaker and openly declared his support for a “young and Hezbollahi” government, with Qassem Soleimani as an example figure.

“When I refer to a young and Hezbollahi government, I am not saying that, for example, a 32-year-old should become president. We need a young and active government that can resolve the country’s issues. There are those who work well into their old days and never get tired. For example, our dear martyr Qassem Soleimani, whom I think about every day…,” Khamenei added, once again reiterating the rift among the regime’s senior ranks and how Khamenei lost his most devoted confidant in the death of former IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani.

Despite repeated efforts by Khamenei to unify various factions, issues such as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and 2021 budget bill only increased conflicts between fractions.

Continued social protests

Throughout last year, social protests by workers, teachers, nurses, retirees, farmers, and other branches of the society continued across the country.

 

There was not a single day where people did not chant their anger toward the regime’s policies and officials. In return, not once did the regime respond positively to the demands of the protesters. This has only increase the gap between the people and mullahs’ establishment and has added to the society’s already explosive state.

Despite the regime’s efforts to prevent protests by intensifying repression and abandoning the coronavirus outbreak, the continuation of protests are yet more proof that Iran’s society can be described as a powder keg with a short fuse. Various state media constantly warn about the threat of new uprisings. “More than ever before widespread protests are portraying a very dark outlook,” according to the Sharq daily on March 14.

In the new Persian year, 1400, the regime is still unable to solve its economic, social, political, and international crises, and sooner or later is doomed to fall.