Iran and the Challenges Posed by Afghanistan
The editorial of Arman Melli written by “reformist” academic Sadegh Zibakalam argues that with regard to the recent developments in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s assumption of power, Iran will be the loser.
Iran’s stance on recent developments in Afghanistan has raised many questions and has attracted a great deal of criticism. However we define Iran’s foreign policy in this regard, the truth is that developments in Afghanistan cannot be seen as a success or victory for Iran.
In Iran’s foreign policy, of course, the only thing that matters is enmity with America, and perhaps some “hardliners” and “ultra-conservatives” in Iran happily believe that America has failed in Afghanistan. But they should know that incidentally it is not the Americans who failed in Afghanistan.
Americans took a calculated risk hoping that the Taliban will contain ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical groups. It remains to be seen whether the Taliban can or is willing to contain these radical groups in Afghanistan. But if the Americans’ hope doesn’t come true and Afghanistan becomes a safe haven for radical groups, it is not the Americans who will be the losers. Rather, it is the Iranians who will be the losers.
If so, Iran will be on the frontline for fighting radical fundamentalists which will be disastrous and will create difficulties for the country. And if the Americans are right and the Taliban can contain radical groups, then Afghanistan will be a part of a new axis which will include Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and America.
That is why no matter what happens in Afghanistan and regardless of the outcome of the conflict in that country, the Americans will not be the losers. It is rather the others who will pay the price.
Obstacles in the Path of Starting a Business
The editorial of Tejarat, penned by the Parliament’s spokesperson for the Leap in Production Commission Mohsen Zanganeh, explains the difficulties that individuals face in setting up new businesses in Iran.
The conditions for setting up businesses are one of the most important economic indicators in the world. There are certain organizations in the world which monitor these issues and rank countries accordingly.
In these rankings, Iran stands 140 out of 180 countries. Various factors have impacted Iran’s rank, one of which is the length of time it takes to start a business. Currently, individuals who are interested in starting a business do not know what procedures they must follow, how long it will take and what permits they need for starting a business.
The other problem is how the permit is issued which requires going through a very complicated bureaucratic process in Iran. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance has already launched a website for issuing business permits, but it has many problems that must be resolved.
In 2008, legislation was passed requiring the government to issue permits for those who want to set up businesses within a specified period of time. But that legislation has not been enacted as yet.
There are two essential problems for issuing permits. One is the complicated process that one has to go through for obtaining a permit. And the other is the monopolies that exist in different fields. It means that an individual might go through all the difficulties to get a permit, but then be denied the permit because of the monopolies that exist in that field.
For example, a graduate from law school can work as a lawyer or the head of a notary public office. But there is an impediment on the number of permits that can be granted each year – a limit which is set by the lawyers’ union that benefits from the set limit. It is the Iran Central Bar Association which decides on the number of permits that will be granted each year.
Such conflicts of interest exist in many businesses like pharmacies, driving centers, bakeries, etc. For example, the bakers’ union is in charge of issuing permits for new bakeries.
And it goes without saying that in certain cases, the permits for businesses are sold at high prices.
Alarming and Incessant Increase in Inflation
The editorial of Tejarat asserts that the new government headed by Ebrahim Raisi must take urgent measures to contain the rising inflation in Iran.
For a while, there has been a continuous increase in inflation in Iran and apparently it is not going to stop, which means that if this situation continues, we will see more and more inflation. The new government hasn’t yet taken any immediate measures to curb it.
Under these circumstances, urgent measures must be taken to combat inflation. There are certain significant steps that the government can take to contain it, one of which is to advance relations with the international community.
If Iran returns to the nuclear talks, it will have a considerable impact on the market. In addition, inflation over the past years has been significantly driven by the government’s forex policies, which has exacerbated inflation.
The new government must take the necessary measures to reduce inflation. If there is no change in the current situation, Iran might see 60 percent inflation, as it has already experienced 50 percent inflation in the past. Of course, it must be noted that many hold that the official inflation rate is not correct and the real level of inflation is much more than this.
On the other hand, there is a budget deficit which can cause inflation. The draft budget fuels inflation further, expenses have increased, and the Parliament has actually increased the country’s expenses. The government must cut its expenses to make up for the budget deficit. The more the budget deficit is reduced, the more inflation will be curbed. It must be noted that the increase in inflation is directly related to class disparity.
Some predict that this process might end in the collapse of Iran’s economy, while some say that this will not happen. Be that as it may, what we see today is that the economic situation in the country is not good.
Iran Is Trapped, Iranians Are Frustrated
The editorial of Jahan Sanat sheds light on Iran’s deteriorating economic conditions which have led to the exasperation of the Iranian people.
In 2019, just a few months after economic sanctions were reinstated against Iran by Donald Trump, prominent Iranian economic expert Masoud Nilli, who was a senior economic advisor to former President Hassan Rouhani for five years, delivered a long speech predicting that the new round of sanctions would be tougher and longer. He had also predicted an increase in the budget deficit due to the loss of revenue from exporting crude oil.
Now, a couple of years after his speech, economic actors and experts can clearly see that Nilli’s predictions have come true. Iran has been subject to a new round of sweeping US sanctions for 36 months, which, unlike the sanctions in the early 2010s, are more wide-ranging. Meanwhile, the budget deficit has considerably increased.
Iran is now in the direst of economic conditions. Anyone can see that Iran is completely trapped and Iranians are frustrated.
During the first four months of the Iranian year (starting in March), only 9 percent of Iran’s oil revenue was realized, and the prospects regarding foreign relations are still unclear. Now we must wait and see how much oil the new government will be able to sell by the end of the year and how the budget deficit will be tackled.
Studies show that there is a 50 percent budget deficit in Iran tantamount to 464,000 billion tomans. Given the escalation in tensions between Iran and America, no change can be expected in the relationship between the two countries.
The US administration, even now that Joe Biden is in office, holds that the sanctions have been effective and the Iranian economy is in terrible condition. On the other hand, Iranian officials think that Iranians have become insensitive to inflation, hoping that Iran’s military and nuclear achievements will send the message to America that Iran’s economy will resist and will not fail.
The bitter truth is that, unlike 2019 and 2020, Iran is in no position to make up the budget deficit. Iranians do not have the motivation to continue their economic activities and make investments, and in the meantime, all avenues for foreign investments are blocked.
Iran is under economic siege, while Iranians’ tables are shrinking day by day and people are becoming increasingly frustrated.
400 Iranian-Americans Urge Biden to Condemn Ebrahim Raisi for Crimes Against Humanity
On the eve of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, more than 400 Iranian-American academics, physicians, engineers, and experts, in a letter to US President Joe Biden, have stressed that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi should stand trial for his crimes against humanity.
In this open letter to Biden, the Iranian Professionals’ Ad-Hoc Committee on Iran policy called for immediate and firm action by the US administration in this regard, underscoring that “Raisi doesn’t represent the Iranian people.”
They have emphasized that Ebrahim Raisi should stand trial in international tribunals for being a member of the “death commission” during the massacre of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988 in Iran.
The signatories of the letter have pointed to the “swift decline of the Iranian regime,” saying that the US president must underline in his speech that Iranians’ opposition against the government was amply demonstrated in the unprecedented boycott of the “show elections” and the widespread protests staged by the Iranian people.
They have asserted that the Iranian people demand a secular, non-nuclear democracy, adding that the US administration must lead the United Nations in conducting an international investigation regarding Raisi’s role in crimes against humanity, which will be an important step for the United States in making human rights and democracy the main factor in its policy towards Iran.
Kazem Kazeronian, one of the signatories of the letter, says “we as Iranian-Americans are deeply concerned about the suffering of the Iranian people under the brutal regime ruling over Iran and are enraged that Ebrahim Raisi, who has been responsible for incarcerating, torturing and executing more than 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and thousands of people since then, is now going to stand in the United Nations while the Iranian people have rejected him.”
History professor Ali Parsa emphasized that allowing Raisi to deliver a speech in the United Nations will be an “insult to humanity and the families of the victims as well as the values on which the United Nations have been founded.”
The Women’s Ward in Bushehr Prison: “This Is the End of the World!”
Civil activist Sepideh Gholian has written about the deplorable conditions in Bushehr prison’s women’s ward on Twitter. The civil activist, who has been released from prison due to contracting COVID-19, has written that she has alerted prison officials on numerous occasions but has received no response, which is why she has decided to publicize it.
“This is the end of the world, women’s ward in Bushehr central prison. Last year when I was sent to exile here, I knew this is a forgotten hell, but I couldn’t even imagine the atrocities committed in this place,” writes Gholian.
In a part of her report, Gholian asserts that women prisoners who haven’t received any money from their families and are desperately in need of money are temporarily married to rich prisoners in the men’s ward “after coordination with the prison warden.”
If the prisoners object to these abuses, Sepideh Gholian writes, they will be tortured and harassed including being beaten, quarantined, denied phone calls, and their parole will be cancelled.
In 2018, Sepideh Gholian was arrested for taking part in workers’ protests in the city of Shush, Khuzestan. She was taken to Ahvaz, then to Tehran and in 2020, she was transferred from Evin prison in Tehran to Bushehr prison and was taken there in “shackles and handcuffs.”
In recent weeks, video footage was released by a cyber hacking group called “Ali’s Justice” showing abuse and torture in Evin prison.
The footage from Evin prison shows the mistreatment of prisoners, the smuggling of narcotic drugs into prison, prison guards fighting with each other, and prisoners committing suicide.
Iran Trains Proxy Groups at Kashan Base to Use Drones, Says Israel
Israel’s defense minister says that Iran trains its proxy groups to “use and guide drones” in an airbase in the city of Kashan, adding that this airbase “has become the key center for exporting Iran’s air terrorism.”
Benny Gantz urged that at the airbase in the city of Kashan, “terrorists” from Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are trained to use drones.
According to Israel’s defense minister, “there are hundreds of these drones in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon,” and “Iran’s proxy terrorism has expanded under the cover of organized terrorist armies.” He added that currently Iran is in possession of drones with a range of thousands of kilometers.
While the existence of Iran’s drone industry in the city of Kashan has not been a secret and Tehran has repeatedly boasted of its advances in producing drones, the office of Benny Gantz issued a statement saying his remarks on training terrorists to use Iran-made drones in Kashan’s airbase are based on “new intelligence” obtained by Israel through satellite images.
According to the Israeli defense minister, drones are “fatal precision weapons that can be used like ballistic missiles and can fly thousands of kilometers away,” underscoring that the IRGC’s Quds Force has given them to Iran’s allies in the region. Gantz added that Iran keeps trying to export the necessary expertise for producing drones to the Palestinians in Gaza.
For years, Israel considered itself the undisputed power in the region in manufacturing, using, and even selling advanced drones to different armies across the world, but it has recently focused on Iran’s capability in this field.
Benny Gantz had earlier said that the drones used to attack the Mercer Street tanker in the Sea of Oman had taken off from Iran.
Iran has always been proud of its drone power, calling it a part of its capability in preemptive power. Meanwhile, Iranian military officials have not denied that Iran provides technical expertise for producing drones to its allies.
38 Percent of Nurses Have Thought of Suicide, Study Shows
According to Fariborz Taj, a member of the Central Committee of the Psychological Association of Iran, a study conducted in hospitals in the of city of Malayer shows that more than 38 percent of nurses have either thought of suicide or were ready to commit suicide.
Emphasizing that the coronavirus outbreak and its repercussions have increased the rate of suicide among nurses in various countries in the world, Taj added that “the rate of suicide among nurses is higher than the rest of the population.”
According to Taj, the study also shows that women nurses have suffered more from anxiety and depression, while unmarried nurses have had more thoughts of committing suicide.
Earlier this year, there were reports of deaths among medical residents in Iran, and Rokna news agency reported “serial suicides among residents.”
In the published reports, “mental anguish,” “employment discrimination” and “using narcotic drugs” are named as possible causes of suicide, but as usual, no accurate statistics have been provided.
In recent days, there were also reports about the emigration of nurses from Iran, and according to Yusef Rahimi, a member of the Nurses Association, there has been a sixfold increase in demands from nurses to leave the country, adding that “perhaps more than 1,500 nurses have emigrated in a year.”
According to officials and experts, the number of nurses in Iran is much lower than what is needed, and their salaries are not enough to meet their living costs. Therefore, many nurses prefer to emigrate from the country.
A report published by a member of the Parliament’s Health Commission in 2018 said that Iran lacked about 100,000 nurses. There is no exact number with regard to the shortage of nurses now.
According to Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization, 5,543 people committed suicide in 2020, while 5,143 people had committed suicide in 2019, showing increase an increase of 399 people.