Poverty and corruption, the breeding ground for a massive social explosion in Iran

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(Photo by Iranian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

A 12-year-old girl committed suicide in the city of Ilam after burning her rag so that no one could see the poverty in which her family was immersed. This tragic story was recently published in the pro-government newspaper Jahane Sanat in the context of the loss of part of Iran’s budget, which was accounted by the Supreme Audit Court of Iran. 

Jahane Sanat pointed up how unfair it is that of the almost 5 billion dollars from Iran’s budget that were allocated to the purchase of goods, nothing was received. In the meantime, this poor girl, like millions of children in Iran, was burned in poverty.

Akbar Torkan, a former consultant of President Hassan Rouhani, referred to the Supreme Audit Court of Iran’s report which claimed that 20 billion dollars are being sold by a meager price to a few people for the import of goods that they end up selling to people for several times the price. “This fraud has been going on for a long time”, stated Torkan to Etemad Newspaper (April 18, 2020).

The financial consequence of this currency theft equals about 160,000 billion tomans, which exceeds Iran’s general budget in the examined year. Torkan added: “We know that this has been the case throughout the past 40 years. From the time when the currency value was 7 tomans, 60 tomans, 170 tomans, 300 tomans, 500 tomans, 950 tomans until 3,000 tomans, and finally, 4,200 tomans. The oil has always been sold cheap wasting huge sums that belonged to the Iranians”.

However, the regime claims that it is unable to cope with the Coronavirus due to sanctions and requested a 5-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Following Rouhani’s order for workers to return to their jobs since April 11 -arguing the lack of money in the treasury- even many regime’s officials protested and requested the use of the funds owned by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the powerful agencies under his influence, which amount hundreds of billions of dollars, to fight against the spread of COVID-19. 

Masih Mohajeri, editor in chief of the Islamic Republican newspaper -that was founded by Khamenei-, wrote “For a definitive resolution, the great financial powers, whose assets belong to the people, must be involved. They include the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, the Mostazafan Foundation, and Astan Quds Razavi. If used for helping people affected by the virus, Could the extensive resources owned by these organizations solve their problems in the shortest possible time?”.

The state-owned newspaper Setare Sobh stated on April 11, that two members of the parliament -Shahabaddin Bimeghdar and Gholamreza Heydari- demanded the use of the above mentioned organizations’ assets for the benefit of the people in this dramatic situation.  The same day, Arman newspaper quoted Ali Mohammad Namazi, chairman of the assembly of representatives: “People have the right to question what the authorities have been doing in the last 30 years that despite the 3,000 billion dollars oil revenue, the middle and lower classes cannot endure three months of quarantine with no income. Second, and worse yet, Is the treasure so empty that the government cannot afford to pay the owners of non-governmental businesses without using financial reserves? Is this the example of successful administration that we wanted to show the world?”.

 While the people has lost all the trust in the government, the institutional corruption of all these years, the looting and the loss of production foundations have resulted in the collapse of the middle class, which has always remained calm and balanced. Now, we can a massive explosion of society and this is what the regime fears the most. 

It is no longer a matter of whether or not there will be an explosion, but knowing when it will happen. Khamenei said that he intends to create an opportunity out of the corona disaster. By removing quarantine and the social distancing meassures, the Iranian regime wants to exhaust the young and rebels with a mass slaughter in hopes of defusing this explosion.


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Hamid Enayat
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