From currency crisis to rising inflation: Closer look at Iran’s economic turmoil

Hossein Raqfar, an economy expert in Iran, has acknowledged the drastic financial situation facing the regime. Calculations are showing difficult periods ahead even despite what seems, at surface at least, a rebounding currency following the Iranian currency – the rial – plunging to 190,000 against the US dollar.

While the dollar is claimed to sell at around 105,000 rials as we speak, experts are saying even if the rates rise to the regime’s official 42,000 rial the country would be facing deep and widespread recession.

Numerous production units will close down, leading to a significant surge in unemployment. Such developments raise concerns of more people pouring into the streets and a repeat of the Dec 2017 / Jan 2018 uprising.

Such undeniable realities on the ground in Iran leave the regime no choice but to engineer an artificial currency gain, aiming to prevent various imbalances and instabilities, economically, socially and even politically.

Saving face

The Iranian regime is the main element behind all of this country’s economic woes, including the currency crisis. There are a variety of political and social reservations taken into consideration, in line with the old saying of “Ask much to get little.”

The Iranian regime and its array of apologists/lobbyists abroad claim prices in Iran are skyrocketing due to foreign pressures and sanctions. With the currency rates rising artificially, the same voices claim these numbers are dropping due to their management.

These political and psychological schemes are targeting public opinion and seeking to calm a highly restive and potentially uprising society. A staunch reminder is the fact that the rial is hovering at rates three times that of ten months ago. Considering the various aspects in play effecting Iran’s currency rates, the economy is on path to a complete bankruptcy.

“Our equations show Iran’s economy will go bankrupt even with the U.S. dollar trading at 80,000 rials. Huge expenses will be placed on the shoulders of the country’s production lines and families will lose their purchasing powers at unprecedented scales. If rates remain above the 80,000 rial mark, the situation will be even worse,” Raqfar added in his remarks published in Iranian media.

Iranians shop in a supermarket in north Tehran on April 29, 2015. (File photo: AP)

 

Skyrocketing inflation

One of the regime’s main goals in raising the currency rates was to compensate for the government’s budget deficit and other such shortfalls in Iran’s banking system. This goal was never met, neither for the government’s concerns nor the banking system.

Fueling woes are skyrocketing prices across the board and with this ongoing trend, the regime’s experts are forecasting a rise of official inflation rates to 80 and even 100 percent. This will have drastic consequences for those making the calls in Tehran.

According to Professor Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University, Iran’s actual inflation rate the regime refuses to officially report stands at 170.5 percent.

These price hikes are witnessed in government goods and services, including the recent turmoil seen in increasing prices of airplane tickets. The Iranian regime actually profited from this dilemma, seeking to gain more currency to pay for government debts, including to the banks and especially private banks.

Speaking of banks, Ruhollah Khodarahmi, head of the Iranian regime’s Bank Keshavarzi (Agriculture), acknowledged the closing of 40 bank branches since late March with the goal of decreasing unnecessary expenses. In his interview with the regime’s officials IRNA news agency, this bank chief signaled the closing of another 50 further branches by March 2019.

Rest assured the actual numbers depict a far more drastic image and these remarks portray merely a tip of the iceberg for the economic dilemma engulfing the Iranian regime.

Banking system down

Iran’s banking system is literally on life support, with money provided by the regime and out of ordinary people’s pockets.

The banks are in no position to provide any support for production units, as they continue to be heavily dependent on the Central Bank and the government. Many of the country’s banks will shutdown without loans from the Central Bank.

The situation at hand for Iran’s economy is very serious and it is safe to say a soon-to-be-witnessed domino effect is prone to destroy production, ultimately leading to the crumbling of the entire economy.

To compensate a portion of their bankruptcy, the banks are charging 30 to 33 percent interest rates on production units, all with the Majlis (parliament) looking the other way. The Iranian regime’s so-called legislative body is under the control of the powerful and rich few in Iran.

As the banks continue their fraud and corrupt practices. Forecasts indicate more production lines will shut down in the months ahead and a new wave of unemployment will spread across the country. Production line owners are literally praying for a turn of events. With no positive development in sight, most of these units have been forced to shut down.

For the ruling regime in Iran this is a recipe for disaster, reminding Tehran about the very sparks fueling the late December 2017 uprising.

As we speak, the Iranian regime is going the distance to save the banking system by further plundering the Iranian people. The people will eventually reach their threshold and this regime, weakened by powerful sanctions and escalating isolation, no longer has the capacity to confront the protesting Iranian people.

A storm is coming, to say the least.

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Iran: Understanding the truck drivers’ nationwide strike

Al Arabiya

From September 23 we have been witnessing a new round of strikes launched by truck drivers throughout Iran and the movement quickly gaining a nationwide spirit. This is the fourth episode of such protests by truck drivers and owners in the past four months alone.

Understanding the potentially crippling impact of these strikes, able to literally bring the Iranian regime’s economy to a standstill and force it to its knees, a senior Iranian regime official on Saturday resorted to accusing the drivers of committing crimes and even voicing threats of execution for those continuing these protest strike.

This alarming development in itself resembles the Iranian regime’s very fragile rule and the days of Tehran’s rulers coming to an end.

Slow start

The first round of this protest movement was witnessed on May 22nd. Of course, Iranian regime officials resorted to their known tactics of deception and hollow promises, allowing authorities to bring this strike to an end on June 8th.

As the World Cub began during this period, news report shifted away from these protests. However, the truckers’ strike registered their demands and paved the path for the second round of such protests beginning in late July.

It is interesting how this second round of protests and strikes by Iran’s truck drivers made its way into joining the second major episode of the Iranian people’s nationwide uprising. The cities of Shapur in Isfahan Province, Karaj, Shiraz and Rasht were hosts to the most significant protests.

August 11th marked the day when this second round of the truckers’ nationwide strike in Iran began fading. All the while, the Iranian people’s protest movement made two specific advances with other branches of society joining the strike, including railway workers, and major rallies regaining force in the cities of Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Karaj, Arak, Homayunshahr, Ahvaz, Qahederijan, Mashhad, Najaf and Qarchak.

All these developments acted as yet another reminder and wake-up call for Iranian regime authorities regarding the potential of such protests and how the Iranian people’s uprising continues to pose a major threat for the entire regime.

The Iranian truckers’ third round of protests showed how this movement has the ability or organize, plan and pursue their demands. (File photo: Reuters)

 

Advances

In the second round of their nationwide strike, Iranian truck drivers were able to – without issuing a public call to coordinate their measures – boost the Iranian nation’s uprising a major step forward.

Protests across many cities continued, reminding the general public and the world of how the Iranian regime cannot provide for the population’s basic needs. Employees of the renowned Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company in Khuzestan Province were able to force their employers to appoint their desired representatives to the company council.

The Iranian truckers’ third round of protests showed how this movement has the ability or organize, plan and pursue their demands in a very coordinated manner. This approach impacting the Iranian people’s broader protests, injecting an organized spirit and resulting in new concerns for the ruling clerical regime.

Launching on August 25th, the trucker’s third round of this nationwide strike saw the drivers expanding their organized protests from loading terminals to holding rallies outside of provincial town halls.

While Iranian authorities were able to yet again resort to deceptive measures to bring an end to the truckers’ new protests, September 23rd marked the latest re-launch of this initiative. Amazingly, this movement has spread to over 250 cities across the country in the span of just one week.

Concerning now for the regime is the undeniable political crisis engulfing the Iranian regime alongside the general public’s living conditions sinking to drastic and intolerable lows.

Conclusion

The Iranian people are proving time and again that the Dec/Jan uprising is very much alive and active. Truck drivers across Iran, continuing their nationwide strike, are playing a major role – at times described as an engine – keeping this movement up and running, and igniting further hope in the society.

Without a doubt this protest movement has proven its potential of sparking massive nationwide protests and launching an uprising against the ruling clerics.

The past four months are proving that the circumstances inside Iran have the potential of transforming even the simplest civil protests into major political rallies shaking the very pillars of this regime.

And considering the increasing nature of sanctions against Iran’s clerical rulers and their entire apparatus, this regime will never again have the capacity to overcome this growing wave of social unrest and dissent.

ANALYSIS: How Iran’s regime enters its 40th year as an Islamic Republic

February 11 marked the beginning of the 40th year Iran’s clerics are ruling over what they describe as an “Islamic Republic.”

The fact that this regime is facing a whirlwind of domestic and foreign crises goes beyond doubt. While Tehran’s state media boasts massive support among the populace, remarks heard recently from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei portray a canvas of impasse, a weak entity and the road ahead being uphill, to say the least.

In response to increasing unrest across the country protesting political and economic corruption, Khamenei acknowledged the fact that “fighting cruelty and corruption is very difficult… it will not be resolved easily.”

He is acknowledging the growing scope of systematic corruption riddling the ruling apparatus, and his regime’s weakness in tackling such a demanding issue. Khamenei’s words also indicate Iran’s population will no longer tolerate discrimination, injustice and state-sponsored corruption.

Interesting is how in his latest remarks Khamenei refuses to discuss the 120-day ultimatum issued by U.S. President Donald Trump over the fate of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This further shows his weak hand, especially since Europe is cooperating with Washington’s demands of taking on Tehran’s meddling across the Middle East and ballistic missile program.

Khamenei’s silence is very meaningful and will be devastating for his regime in the near future.

“Systemized corruption”

Political and economic corruption is now considered institutionalized in Iran’s governing systems, ranking this country as one of the world’s most corrupts states. Obviously, economic corruption is merely one result of political corruption, and after 40 years we have come to learn the very subject of corruption has become an inseparable aspect of Iran’s regime.

Iranian Vice President Es’hagh Jahangiri says “termite corruption” is infecting every essence of Iran’s political and economic infrastructure, while Ahmad Tavakoli, head of Iran’s Expediency Council goes further.

“Unfortunately, corruption has become systematic. If measures are not taken, corruption will most definitely bring an end to the Islamic republic,” he adds, cited by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Changing times

Once known for its chest-thumping in refusing to discuss its role in the internal affairs of countries across the Middle East and the so-called “defensive” ballistic missile program, Iran, sensing the changing times, is now signaling steps back in this regard.

In a public acknowledgment of increasing international pressures and Europe distancing away from Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in Paris how Tehran would be willing to discuss “other issues” if the West makes certain the JCPOA remains “a successful experience.”

Although these remarks may seem rather harsh, those familiar with the language used by Iranian officials understand this is saber-rattling to save face, knowing discussions over “other issues” will be grueling and far more demanding than anything Tehran experienced during the Obama years.

Obvious is how Iran’s hardliners fiercely oppose such talks, yet all parties of this factionalized regime are realizing there is no good option ahead, and only choosing from bad and worse.

With Trump providing a last chance for what he describes as “the worst deal ever,” the Europe trio of Britain, France and Germany, all seeking to preserve the JCPOA due to their economic interests in Iran, are scrambling to blueprint a plan addressing Trump’s concerns over Tehran’s destructive role in the Middle East and ballistic missile drive.

Dirty money

Despite Araqchi’s claim of there being no link between the Iran nuclear accord and its influence across the region, new evidence shows the U.S. government tracing portions of the $1.7 billion released by the Obama administration to Tehran – as part of the JCPOA signing – has found its way into the hands of Iran-supported terrorists.

Informed sources are indicating how Tehran has been allocating such funds to pay members of the Lebanese Hezbollah, known as Iran’s main proxy group and provide the budget needed for the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards element described as Iran’s leading foreign intelligence arm involved also in covert action.

The Houthis of Yemen should also be sending their gratitude to Team Obama as evidence shows they, too, have received dividends of the notorious cash load airlifted to Iran. Tehran is using the Houthis to exert pressure on Riyadh from its own backyard.

This is not good news for Iran as such findings will most likely further convince Trump in his effort against the JCPOA. As heard from Araqchi, Tehran understands perfectly well the scrapping of this accord and the return of crippling sanctions, coupled with ongoing domestic protests, are a recipe for disaster.

Troubling months

In another sign of the Trump administration’s determination to take on the issue of Iran’s belligerence, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in the region, paying visits to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait.

Iran is most definitely a major topic of his discussions and Tehran is bracing for possibly a new onslaught of regional pressure, similar to that of Europe, making costing demands.

With Iran protests taking a toll on the regime – as seen on Sunday with many cities witnessing people boycotting pro-regime rallies and protesters hitting the streets at night – and increasing word of banks going bankrupt, the months ahead look grim for Iran. This regime understands better than anyone that the public’s increasing wrath will be demanding, and it is using the JCPOA, its regional influence and ballistic missile program to bargain with the international community.

The difference between now and 2015 is that the White House is not at all fond of Iran’s bellicosity, and more importantly, the Iranian people are making serious demands of regime change.

How Iran’s People Suffer From Regime Belligerence

From the early days of its rule Iran’s regime has been increasing economic pressure on the people, especially the lower class and most deprived. A vivid result of such practice has been the astonishing phenomenon of many Iranians willing to sell their kidneys and other organs, and even mothers pre-selling their unborn fetus. This is parallel to the growing phenomenon of child labor, a swelling number of homeless people roaming the streets and people even resorting to making homes out of graves.

Tehran has a history of increasing domestic pressure and skyrocketing prices to provide for the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, exporting terrorism and fundamentalist across the region, and currently, the onerous finances needed to confront international sanctions and managing an economy in ruins.

Iran’s regime has shown it cares less about such matters as billions are poured into various domestic and international campaigns. This includes meddling in Middle East countries, boosting its nuclear and ballistic missile drives, and launching dozens of military and security forces imposing an intense atmosphere of internal crackdown.

In a recent initiative Iran’s regime seeks to increase the price of bread and medicine. A large portion of Iran’s lower class is currently deprived of a daily portion of bread. Bakeries in Iran’s poor neighborhoods are already selling bread based on monthly payments.

“… the price of bread will be increased by 32 percent… the Minister of Industries spoke of decreasing government supervision over wheat and bread sales,” according to a report broadcast by state TV.

Such price increases, originally 15 percent for bread, have resulted in alarming dilemmas for ordinary life.

“…prices of various goods have risen significantly while annual salary increases are equal to the value of a few kilograms of fruits,” according to the Baharestaneh website.

Conditions have sank to such lows that even Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), reportedly controlling a large portion of the country’s economy and allocating billions for regional meddling, have attacked other institutes to escape from any such criticism.

“The 10th parliament can be described as lacking courage, and being fluid and unpredictable. Members of parliament no longer have any sensitivity over the people’s economic woes, especially increasing poverty in our society,” according to Mashreq News, another state-run outlet in Iran.

Although having concerns about ordinary Iranian’s welfare is not one of the IRGC’s strong attributes.

In response, a member of Iran’s parliament, Amir Khojaeste, resorted to remarks seeking to place the blame on the government of President Hassan Rouhani.

“Why have they increased bread prices by 15 percent and imposing pressure on the people? Salaries are low and the lower class are enduring enormous pains,” he said.

This is the same parliament that adopted a bill providing $600 million dollars to further develop Iran’s already controversial ballistic missile program and the Quds Force, pursuing the IRGC’s extraterritorial campaigns. This includes recruiting foot-soldiers and cannon fodders, from as far as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Iran is known to recruit foot-soldiers and cannon fodders from as far away as Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Syria war. (al-araby.co.uk)

Iran “has Basijis of the Islamic world from six countries in Syria and Iraq,” said General Mohammad Reza Yazdi, commander of the IRGC division stationed in Tehran.

Iran’s meddling in Syria was a topic in a recent phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, underscoring “the need to confront and reverse Iran’s destabilizing activities in Syria.”

Tehran has been accused of allocating $30 billion annually for its support and promotion of terrorism through proxies, also including the Houthis of Yemen.

Suspicion over the IRGC’s intentions have increased following remarks by senior officials seeking to expand the force’s reach.

The IRGC will play an active role in establishing an enduring “ceasefire” in crisis-hit Syria, its chief commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said according to Reuters. Disarming Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran’s main proxy in the region and a designated terrorist group known for its nefarious attacks, was non-negotiable, Iranian state TV reported last Thursday. Reports have placed “Hezbollah’s annual income at between $800 million and $1 billion, with 70-90 percent coming from Iran…”

IRGC deputy chief commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami has gone as far as warning to increase the range of missiles above 2,000 kilometers to target Europe, according to wires citing the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency.

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The new Iranian long range missile Khoramshahr is displayed during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of its devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, on September 22,2017 in Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani vowed that Iran would boost its ballistic missile capabilities despite criticism from the United States and also France. / STR/AFP/Getty Images

The Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has long exposed Tehran’s role in the region, especially in Syria. Advocating a policy of regime change in Iran, the NCRI has welcomed the IRGC terrorist designation by Washington and considers the expulsion of Iran from Syria and Iraq as necessary for the region to finally begin heading towards peace and stability.

Considering Tehran’s decades of supporting terrorism and meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, this regime will continue to plunder the Iranian people to provide for its range of belligerence.

The Iranian people have been suffering under such a state and a recent surge in protests are raising eyebrows and escalating concerns in Tehran. For example, following the recent earthquake that shook western Iran the lack of state support for the victims has been alarming.

The earthquake inflicted damages equaling to 11 years of the targeted province’s budget, according to the Kermanshah governor. It is worth noting that Tehran’s annual support for Assad in Syria equals 150 times that of this province’s annulal budget.

One Iranian state daily warned:
“The recent earthquake unveiled the Iranian citizens’ distrust in state institutions… This will not remain without specific political and social consequences… this is a reminder of the imminent threat of a complete meltdown of social trust…”

Iran’s Children: Mandatory Marriages

The mullahs ruling Iran are actually encouraging, and forcing, families to wed off their girls at young ages

Yet another hideous phenomenon seen in #iran under the mullahs’ rule is the unthinkable practice of children forced off to mandatory #Marriages. The victims, who are placed into such situations at extremely young ages due to poverty, are left to face physical and psychological damages.

Young girls are the main targets of such inhumane measures, with the mullahs institutionalising these acts under Iran’s misogynist laws. And yet, based on human rights covenants, “child marriages” are considered acts of slavery and crimes against humanity. In such marriages, girls are actually sold to relieve their families of their economic burdens.
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Iran’s children damaged in early marriages

This shocking phenomenon is so widespread the regime’s own state-run media is forced to react. The depth of this disaster can be comprehended from the words of an Iranian regime official, “Currently, 43,000 girls between the ages of 10 to 15 are married.”

“We have even witnessed girls under the age of 10 getting married,” said Shahindokht Molavardi, Iran’s deputy vice president.

There are families who cannot make ends meet and force their girls into marriages with individuals twice their age, according to a report wired by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency. In Iran, 890,000 girls under the age of 18 were married off from 2006 to 2015.

Iran has 10 million completely illiterate and another 10 million semi-illiterate individuals across the country. These are dangerous statistics and are directly related to the number of child marriages,” state-run Mehr news agency reported.

“The income division in Iran is yet another reason behind increasing child marriages,” the report reads.

“17% of all marriages are related to girls under the age of 18 and in 2015 more than 5% of all marriages were registered to individuals under the age of 15. These statistics do not include non-registered marriages.”

According to Iran’s civil law girls are permitted to marry at the age of 13 and boys at 15. This reactionary law even permits marriages prior to these ages, only in need of permission from a court and the parents.

“If these two parties confirm, #Children at the age of six can be legally married,” said Iranian MP Fateme Zolqadr in reference to this law.

Shahla E’zazi, a sociologist and member of the Tabatabaie University Board of Science said in 2015 the number of child marriages increased by 10,000 in comparison to 2014 and their divorces have also increased.

In Iran under the religious fascist mullahs’ rule access to true statistics of child marriages is impossible and the media expressed in the regime’s controlled media most certainly reflect only a tip of the iceberg.

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Iran’s mullahs encouraging child marriages

Considering all the damages caused by child marriages, the ruling mullahs in Iran continue to promote such a practice. Mullah Mohsen Ghera’ati made repulsive remarks in this regard.

“There must be an urgency regarding marriages. Boys and girls must get married in high school (and not in college),” he said. This is a clear resemblance of the mullah’s misogynist ideology.

Children involved in early marriages suffer social and physical damages. The social damages includes unregistered marriages, lack of identification papers, number of “child widows” on the rise, violence at home and spouse beatings, significant rise in population of city outskirt residents, prostitution, children fleeing their homes, number of homeless people, deprivation from education, significant age different between spouses, self-immolation and suicides, low social and legal support, rise in drug addiction, lack of skills to enter the job market, lack of knowledge to grow children, rise in poverty and rise in child workers. (State-run Iran Online website)

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Iranian Regime’s Concerns Persist Ahead of May Elections

Khamenei focused his speech on two main topics, covering both Iran’s economic crisis and the upcoming presidential elections in May. However, his words on the economy can be evaluated as a prelude to the disputes that will most definitely engulf Iranian politics. The comments Khamenei made on the economy were mainly focused on the failures and embarrassments brought about by the cabinet of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, including increasing unemployment and doubt over statistics published by the government.

Unlike Western democracies, there are no real “political parties” in Iran. Despite all the brouhaha in the media about “moderates” or “reformists” facing off against “hardliners,” they are all part of one system loyal to one leader, and are only considered members of different factions within this one system. Their only difference hovers over how to maintain their dictatorial regime in power.

Khamenei very specifically said the people should not elect a “tired” president and went as far as saying that the president must not be involved in any case of economic corruption.When discussing the elections, Khamenei very vividly referred to Rouhani’s cabinet as an inactive, low energy and a “non-revolutionary” entity. These very same terms were used the day before by various Friday prayer imams and representatives of his faction in the parliament.

Rouhani wasted no time in responding, taking advantage of a speech in the city of Sanandaj, in western Iran, on March 25. In response to Khamenei demanding that the government must present a report card of its accomplishments, Rouhani targeted the judiciary – known to be extremely loyal to Khamenei’s viewpoints – and called for this powerful institution to present its own report.

The question now is what the purpose of Khamenei’s remarks might have been. Does he truly intend to eliminate or disqualify Rouhani from the polls in any way?

Of course, Khamenei would prefer Rouhani to not be his regime’s next president. However, it appears he can no longer disqualify Rouhani through the ultraconservative Guardian Council, a 12-man body selected directly and indirectly by Khamenei, that is in charge of vetting all candidates for all so-called elections in Iran.

Although various members of Khamenei’s faction may seek such a fate for Rouhani, it appears that Khamenei himself knows the consequences of this outcome. A development of this type would significantly tear open the rifts inside the Iranian regime and provide adequate circumstances for Iranian society to explode in uprisings and protests similar to those of 2009.

To this end, Khamenei will go the distance to discredit and destroy Rouhani’s image and as a result decrease his popularity at the polls in a second and engineered round of elections. This would be the easiest of all scenarios for Khamenei, resulting in the elimination of Rouhani “by the books.”

And if forced to accept Rouhani for another term, the least Khamenei expects is to have a completely weakened Rouhani who won’t raise any demands and follows his orders. Khamenei especially needs such conditions after he lost one of his regime’s main pillars, former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Despite their differences, Khamenei knows that the road ahead is far more difficult without him. To this end, he senses a need to continue his attacks against Rouhani to gain a full and complete control over all aspects of his regime.

The irony, however, lies in the fact that Khamenei faces many obstacles in his path to this objective.

First, the probability of a social outburst transforming into nationwide uprisings would be no less than a nightmare for him. If such a threat did not exist, rest assured Khamenei would have disqualified Rouhani through the Guardian Council and rid himself of this problem.

Second, Khamenei also has major reservations about the huge rifts existing within his own faction, vivid through the fact that his camp has not been able to select and support a single candidate for the elections. If Khamenei is unable to convince the hardliners to rally behind one candidate, he can assume the election lost beforehand.

Third, all said and done, who is the one figure Khamenei can select to have his camp rally behind? Does such a person even exist in Iran today who can bring an end to the long-lasting divisions among the so-called hardliners?

This all comes down to the major challenge before the entire Iranian regime: Can these sham elections be held without the population rising up, similar to 2009, in demand of fundamental change? We’ll find out soon enough.

Originally posted in The Diplomat

Iran’s Regime of Terror by the Numbers

In 38 years the country’s Islamist regime has taken the people into poverty and illiteracy while the leadership has gotten richer and richer.

The mullahs now ruling Iran were able to hijack the revolution that sacked the U.S.-backed Shah regime back in February 1979. However, the 38-year report card left by the mullahs has only raised extreme anger throughout the Iranian society.

Numbers are very vivid in revealing the undeniable atrocities caused by the mullahs’ disastrous policies.

The daily trend of continuous executions in Iran has raised anger amongst the international community for years. Iran is considered the number one executioner per capita.

The number of executions in Iran “paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale,” according to Amnesty International.

Suicides are also on the rise, especially amongst women, ranking Iran first in the Middle East and third in the world. There are also reports of a growing number of teenagers committing suicide.

Drug addiction is yet another disastrous result of the mullahs’ rule in Iran. The amount of drugs spreading amongst women and teenagers is skyrocketing and state-run media are citing experts estimating at least 8 million Iranians are suffering from this dreadful phenomenon.

Iran’s roads are even considered very dangerous, as the mullahs refuse to allocate the necessary budget to provide safe passages. 20,000 people die each year in Iran and 300,000 injured (150% more than the global average). Iran’s annual road accident casualty statistics are even compared to an all-out war.

Poverty has increased to an extent that many Iranians have resorted to gathering recyclable products, food stuffs and other trash to make ends meet, and the homeless sleeping in pre-dug graves.

All the while Iran is a country sitting on a vast sea of crude oil and natural gas, with new reports of 2 billion barrels of shell oil discovered in western Iran.

The country’s economy, however, has nosedived to such an extent that more than 50% of the industrial units have gone bankrupt or are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Unemployment is now a critical and increasing crisis. Nearly 15 million people are unemployed in Iran, according to an Iranian economy expert.

The mullahs’ policies have literally destroyed the entire “middle class” in Iran, leaving the population divided between a small percentage with massive riches, and a high percentage living in poverty.

30% of the country’s population is hungry and have no bread to eat,” said Ali Akbar Sayari, Deputy Health Minister in the cabinet of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Iran has an urban population of 65 million, of which one third live in city outskirts comparable to shacks and slums.

“Around 20 million people are living in 53,000 hectares (204 square miles) of non-official residential areas,” according to Mohammad Saeed Izadi, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Road and Construction.

Financial corruption is spreading throughout society like cancer. The numbers have become massive and even unimaginable. Above all is the apparatus linked to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose riches value at $95 billion.

Iran’s environment is also on the verge of complete annihilation.

“If the water crisis in Iran continues, the country will soon become very similar to Somalia and 50 million Iranians will be forced to leave the country,” said Isa Kalantari, Rouhani’s advisor in water and agricultural matters.

Even the workplace is considered unsafe under the mullahs’ rule, as Iran ranks first in the world in workplace incidents.

“Iran is the world record holder in construction accidents,” said Akbar Shokat, head of the Construction Workers’ Guild Center in an interview with the state-run ISNA news agency.

Illiteracy is plaguing millions of Iranian children, depriving them of education due to their family’s economic and social problems. Iran has a population of 10 million illiterates and 10 million low-literates, according to Rouhani’s Deputy Education Minister.

Yet another repulsive custom rendered from the mullahs’ regime has been child marriages. Poverty forces families to give off their young daughters, leaving them to face unthinkable spiritual and physical damages from arranged marriages.

43,000 girls between the ages of 10 to 15 are currently married in Iran,” according to regime officials.

This is merely a tip of the iceberg of the mullahs’ horrific track record in the past 38 years, making serious measures against this regime and in support of the Iranian people all the more necessary.

Originally posted in The Clarion Project

More families in Iran resorting to ‘selling’ their children

The most innocent in Iran are targets of the most unthinkable atrocities

In the past few months, state media and senior Iranian regime officials have issued reports and made startling remarks about the “child-trade” crisis in Iran under the mullahs’ regime. This phenomenon is growing at such a rate that hospitals have literally become hubs for such an inhumane trend.

In his remarks Iran’s Health Organization deputy in social affairs referred to children being sold in Tehran’s hospitals, including state-run hospitals managed by the Health Ministry, adding this issue has become a serious concern, according to state-run Tabnak website. “During the past six months we have witnessed an increase in the number of children sold across the country,” this Iranian official said, according to the Arman Daily website.

Shahindokht Molavardi, the Iranian vice president for women and family affairs, made shocking remarks about #children being sold prior to birth. “We don’t have actual statistics of such newborns. However, the numbers have reached such a high figure the news media has reported on this,” she explained. “Economic poverty, cultural poverty, drug addiction, homelessness and children being sent off to early marriages are amongst the elements that can lead women to sell their children,” Molavardi reiterated, according to state-run Asriran website.

More such threats in Iran

Children involved in such an atrocious trade usually become targets for groups of beggars whose members gain more money if they have newborn children in their arms. Furthermore, these newborns are also prepared to be used for begging in the future.

Gangs involved in drug distribution are also seeking to take advantage of such children, using them to sell drugs in different methods. In more disturbing news, human traffickers are known to purchase such children, using their body parts for an even more horrifying and more profitable market.

Selling children for early and forced marriages are another perspective of this dreadful disaster brought upon Iranian children by the mullahs’ regime. At an age when children are in need of care and love, they are forced into marriages and becoming young mothers. On most occasions, these girls are forced to marry much older men, and at times even decades older.

The organized trade of children by drug gangs and human traffickers is also on the rise in Iran. This has enormously devastating impacts on the society, especially from a security perspective, and specifically placing children in grave danger.

Crises such as drug addiction, becoming homeless, prostitution and … all intensify the child-trade crisis. Such a dilemma is especially increasing in high-population areas, city outskirts and other areas where poverty is widespread. In areas near hospitals in southern Tehran, children are sold at the unbelievable price of one to two million rials (around $25 to $50).

The source in Iran

It is quite clear the root of all these crises, including the child-trade catastrophe, are poor economic conditions and poverty the majority of Iran’s population is engulfed in. While the majority of the Iranian people are living in poverty, Iranian regime officials and their close circles are enjoying a lifestyle of lords in their palaces, penthouses, skyscraper apartments and fancy villas. The money for all this comes from the pockets of ordinary Iranians.

Such disastrous conditions and the increasingly worrisome trend of child-trade resembles a major contradiction and a significant divide in Iran’s society. A society in which a very small percentage of people are controlling nearly the entire economy.

The vast majority of Iranians are living in poverty, lacking basic necessities and suffering from various crises brought to life by the mullahs’ regime in the past 38 years. Such disastrous policies have endangered the entire society in Iran.

Originally published in Blasting News

Iran’s Doctor Drain

The economic reality of Iranian physicians is so bad they are now forced to live in poverty or leave the country for opportunities abroad.

Economic insecurity for physicians in Iran is an increasing problem in the Islamic Republic. After years of college and medical school, one would think that a physician would be considered a national asset, like in all other countries in the world.

Yet, in Iran, many medical professionals are forced to sell mobile phones or drive taxis part times to make ends meet — or leave the country in search of better opportunities abroad.

Fifty percent of Iran’s general physicians are either unemployed or not active in their field, the state-run Alef website reported, citing head of Iran’s General Physicians Association, Alireza Zali.

Living conditions for physicians have deteriorated to an extent that many medical school graduates are even resorting to jobs in construction, according to a report posted on the state-run Tabnak website, working on projects belonging to former Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezaie.

“These physicians have very low incomes and live in poor conditions,” Zali said in  a report by the official IRNA news agency. “Recently, the Health Ministry said the highest income some physicians are earning is around 18 million rials a month (around $465) … [even] after 20 years of experience there are physicians earning [only]12 million rials a month ($315).”

With half of Iran’s physicians out of work, many are forced to leave the country seeking better opportunities in Europe, Canada and the United States. This trend is increasing with each passing year.

Former Iranian health minister Iraj Faze says 1,980 physicians are departing Iran annually, adding such a trend will leave the country facing a serious shortage of physicians.

“Physicians working in state-run facilities have not received their [pay] … for the past year. As a result, we can’t blame the physicians from leaving a country where they lack social and economic guarantees,” Fazel said in an interview with Etelleat daily.

This issue has reached a point where Iran’s deputy chair of the parliamentary health commission also expressed concerns. “Unfortunately, poor job opportunities and adequate work for all branches of life are some of the country’s most important dilemmas. To this day no cabinet has been able to resolve such issues,” Mohammad Hossein Ghorbani said to Shafa Online.

When physicians in Iran under the mullahs’ rule are forced to leaving the country to seek better living and job conditions, rest assured other professionals – not to mention ordinary workers — are condemned to living a miserable life under extremely harsh conditions.

While physicians may enjoy the option of leaving the country, most of the poverty-stricken people of Iran are forced to endure the burden of extreme poverty as a result of the mullahs’ plundering the country’s increasing wealth.

Iran is a country that contains vast deposits of oil and natural gas. There should be no reason for such drastic poverty, as witnessed recently where the homeless in Iran have been forced to literally live in graves.

In urban areas, up to 55 percent of Iranians are living below the poverty level, while the mullah’s waste the country’s budget, which includes billions of dollars in unfrozen assets from the Iran nuclear deal. These dollars are being used by Tehran to pursue its Middle East expansion ambitions. Iran’s troops can be found in Syria and Iraq, and meddling in Yemen and Lebanon.

Tehran also continues its nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, as seen in two cases of heavy water production limit violations and numerous accounts of missile launches in violation of U.N. Resolution 2231, the latest which happened January 29 when a medium-range missile was test-fired.

In the past four decades, the Iranian regime has proven it seeks anything but the people’s interests.

Originally posted in The Clarion Project

A look at Iran’s collapsing industries

At a time when The Wall Street Journal reports the regime in Iran has enjoyed “more than $10 billion in sanctions relief,” policies implemented by Tehran have laid the grounds for the total annihilation of industries across the country. Unemployment is skyrocketing and domestic production lines are coming to a standstill.

Iran was home to around 155,000 small industrial units, creating around 4.4 million jobs. In recent years, however, 45% of these units, amounting to nearly 70,000, have been forced to close down and to this end 2 million people became unemployed.

Construction projects in Iran have nearly come to a complete halt, and the regime is further seeking a so-called “privatization” scheme. It is worth noting, however, the “private” firms involved belong to senior regime officials and their inner circles, making Iran’s private sector associated directly or indirectly to the regime.

Entities such as the Revolutionary Guards, state police, the “Mostazafan” and “Shaheed” foundations, the “Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam” – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam, and other institutes linked to the regime’s inner power circle, with the number of such illegal entities topping 6,000… have all played roles in the status quo establishing in Iran.

Inflation, skyrocketing prices and increasing profits by the banks making goods even more expensive have all lead to a trend of decreasing competition from domestically manufactured goods. The result is none other than factories and workshops going bankrupt.

Industrial unit owners raised specific demands in a meeting with Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.

“Industrial unit owners have many complaints over this administration’s last year in office. They protested their shortcomings, of the lack of coordination amongst various apparatuses to set aside all obstacles set before production… They said administration decisions have caused such damages to this sector,” the state-run media reported. “Recession has deepened to such an extent even the Vice President, with all his executive powers, cannot get the industries’ wheels rolling.”

Results such as an 18% tax increase on the production sector, 32% in 2014 and 23% in 2015 is the report card of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in relation to taxes, and 2016 has no prospect of providing any improvement in this regard.

The banks in Iran, never loyal to set interest rates, obviously controlled by the regime, are increasing facilitations and other measures to increase their own benefits, further reports indicate.

In such conditions media inside Iran are reporting on a daily basis of the country’s industry going down the drain, giving a small picture of the utterly chaotic status of Iran’ economy.

Despite all this, entities linked to the regime and wealthy individuals involved in this regard, are importing goods into the country in colossal quantities.

While supporting the import of foreign goods and profiting from this phenomenon, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, Rouhani’s incumbent Minister of Industry has even called on Iran’s customs to lift all restrictions placed over a “famous Korean brand,” going as far as demanding the cancellation of an $850 million fine. Iran’s customs officials, however, believe the ministry has no authority to make any such demands.

The Korean company had sidestepped custom regulations and imported parts and fined for not having any reservation for the ruling government’s rights, and as a result fined $850 million. However, Nematzadeh wrote a letter to the customs chief demanding this fine be cancelled, reports show.

Analysts believe such concessions to South Korea by Iran has roots in the mullahs’ utter isolation by foreign investors. This is especially concerning for Tehran following the recent U.S. elections, as far less foreign investors are now willing to take such a risk of signing contracts with Tehran. Despite all this, such concessions by Rouhani’s cabinet have catastrophic effects on Iran’s economy.

While the Iranian regime may argue the speed of sanctions relief has been too slow, even in violation of the agreement, it would be hard to claim Tehran has a positive intention with such money after the parliament recently called for expanded military spending.

“Iranian lawmakers approved plans on Monday (January 9th) to expand military spending to five percent of the budget, including developing the country’s long-range missile program… The vote is a boost to Iran’s military establishment – the regular army, the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and defense ministry – which was allocated almost 2 percent of the 2015-16 budget,” according to Reuters.

This comes at a time when a high degree of malnutrition due to poverty has literally become part of life in some Iranian provinces.

“Malnutrition in the central Zagros areas has been completely forgotten. Poverty has become a way of life for villagers here,” according to salamatnews.com.

“30% of the people are hungry, meaning they lack any guaranteed food source,” said Iranian Deputy Health Minister Ali Akbar Sayari.

It is quite obvious why industrial units are closing one after another, and why production comes to a major halt under a completely corrupt economy in Iran, run a regime with foul intentions. This allows senior regime officials and their close elite to pocket huge profits through importing cheap goods.

This is the very reason why the Iranian people are living under such economic hardships, with so many suffering due to poverty, unemployment and …