The editorial of Eghtesad Pooya asserts that unlike what the Iranian government claims, the economic sanctions on Iran have been effective, crippling the country’s economy and putting unbearable pressure on people’s lives.
During the last decade, Iran has been under the severe pressure of economic sanctions to the extent that the national currency has lost its value by 2,700 percent, prices have witnessed a twelvefold increase, and the average level of personal consumption has dropped compared to two decades ago.
Experts say that with reviving the nuclear deal, Iran can export 2 million barrels of oil per day which will bring the annual revenue up to $70 billion per year. In addition to this potential benefit, there is also the danger of the failure of economic plans if no agreement is reached over the nuclear deal.
The inflation rate, despite the government’s promise to bring it down, has broken all records in the past year, and economic sanctions have actually crippled the country’s economy, despite the fact that the Iranian authorities deny this fact. Everybody knows that Iran’s economy heavily depends on selling oil, and whatever happens to oil exports will directly impact the country’s economy and people’s lives either positively or negatively.
Since 2013 severe sanctions have been imposed against Iran, and we have been witnessing an increase in the inflation rate, which means people’s purchasing power has declined and many people from the middle class have been pushed below the poverty line. Studies show that these sanctions are unprecedented in the history of Iran following the 1979 revolution, and even during the Iran-Iraq War no such sanctions were imposed on the country.
When Iran cannot sell its oil and import the raw materials that it needs, industries and economic units plunge into recession as a result of which workers lose their jobs and more and more people become poor. This trend has continued over the past years and even Ebrahim Raisi’s government has not been able to improve people’s livelihood prospects.
The truth is that Iran’s economy is still under the shadow of sanctions. As long as sanctions are in place and Iran is denied access to oil revenues, the current situation will continue, and society will become increasingly impoverished.
Raisi’s government has not taken any measures to lift the crippling international sanctions, and since the nuclear talks have not come to fruition, we cannot expect any positive economic change.
JCPOA and People’s Living Conditions
The editorial of Arman Emrooz urges that the Iranian government must seriously attempt to reach an agreement over the nuclear deal, as it is directly tied to people’s living standards.
The nuclear talks have not come to fruition yet, and Iran is in dire need of reaching an agreement over the nuclear deal (JCPOA). Livelihood problems due to international sanctions and threats have put pressure on different groups of people resulting in an unendurable situation.
The collapse of the upper middle class, the increase in slum dwelling, the migration of economic actors, students and even physicians from the country, etc. illustrate the upheavals facing Iranian society. Being under sanctions means cutting ties with global economic and trade markets, and this has resulted in the further deterioration of economic conditions.
Under these circumstances, reaching an agreement over the nuclear deal is of utmost importance. Nevertheless, we can see that the government is not serious enough regarding the JCPOA.
In fact, the Iranian authorities maintain that they can run the country without the JCPOA, but it must be admitted that without participating in the global economy and trading with other economically significant countries, Iran cannot overcome the obstacles and will have to face more restrictions.
So given the priorities which exist in the country, the Iranian authorities must consider the national interest and bring peace to society, as the JCPOA is directly tied to people’s economic situation.
Priority Should Be Given to Human Dignity!
The editorial of Etemad argues that people’s lives and dignity have no place in the policies and plans of Iranian officials and authorities, and people are used for promoting the Iranian government’s agenda. The most recent example was the appalling conditions that the Arbaeen pilgrims suffered; some lost their lives, many suffered from heat stroke and did not have even water to drink.
The released images and news of the plight of the pilgrims of Arbaeen [a Shiite religious ceremony held in commemoration of Imam Hussein] remind us of two issues: first is the issue of mismanagement for which they must apologize and enact reform.
But the second and more important issue is the fact there is this large-scale view which does not consider these incidents as important. According to this view, the welfare of pilgrims is of lower priority compared to the importance of this ritual, rather than seeing this ritual as adding spiritual value to pilgrims. This approach is not new and has been seen in many cases including the Iran-Iraq War.
Iraq, like any other places, has limited capacity for accommodating pilgrims and travelers. But what happened was the result of excessive propaganda by Iranian officials, encouraging people to go to this country and visit the holy shrines. As this issue is associated with love for Imam Hussein and his companions, naturally millions of people would desire to go to Iraq to observe the Arbaeen ceremony.
From a humanitarian perspective, respect for the welfare of pilgrims should be accorded the same priority as the ceremony. Iraqi officials and even Iranian experts should have warned about Iraq’s limited capacity for accommodating pilgrims. But when propaganda is prioritized over human dignity and human beings are used simply as tools for attaining a certain end, then people have to face a miserable situation, just as they did during the Arbaeen pilgrimage.
During the Iran-Iraq War, there were also reports highlighting the complete disregard for people’s lives.
In sum, there are two opposite views: one in which the revolution, the ruling establishment, the law and the status quo are at the service of citizens. And the other view which puts the people, the environment, and everything else at the service of ideological values. These two opposite views are at work in all domains in Iran.
Now, the Iranian authorities must be held accountable for the devastating incidents that took place during the Arbaeen ceremony this year.
What Is Expediency?
The editorial of Mostaghel explains how the concept of expediency is used in Iranian politics to benefit certain groups of people and not the public.
If Iran’s current Constitution was fully adhered to, many problems would not exist today. It must be accepted that expediency is the same old idea of favoritism and sidestepping the law.
The main question is: what is wrong with the Constitution and what issues are not provided for in it that expediency must be employed? For years, expediency has played a unique role in Iranian foreign and domestic policy: for example, it has been asserted that it is not expedient to deal with this or that person’s lawsuit now. It is expedient that this or that person should – or should not be – appointed to a certain position.
Or it is not expedient for this or that movie to be released. It is expedient to appoint this or that person to the head of the Iranian Football Federation, or it is expedient to ban the image of former President Mohammad Khatami from all media outlets. It is expedient to imprison this or that person. Such acts of expediency have overridden the law, or, in other words, expediency has replaced the Constitution of the country.
Iranian officials, however, must explain if acting expediently has been beneficial for the people. If so, how? It seems that it is only the rulers and the government that are benefiting from these expediencies.
Finally, if acting in accordance with expediency is the unwritten law of the land, then the Iranian authorities must allow the people to decide what is expedient for them in both domestic and foreign policy. It must be admitted that expediency works in so far as it benefits certain groups of people.
For years, the country has been run on the idea of expediency, and the current conditions are the outcomes of those expediencies. So, the message of the current situation is that those expediencies have not benefitted the public, and it is merely a means of whitewashing the mistakes of certain people. For example, they say that this or that minister is clearly corrupt, but it is not expedient to talk about it now.
Bullets and Batons: Iranian Government Reacts to Protests Over the Murder of Mahsa Amini
Days after the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish girl from the city of Saghaz in Kurdistan Province who died in Kasra Hospital in Tehran after being tortured in police custody, her murder by the Iranian government’s agents triggered a widespread wave of protests in Iran with people taking to the streets.
Mahsa Amini, 22 years old, who was visiting her relatives in Tehran, was arrested by the morality police in the Iranian capital on the pretext of improper hijab. She was taken to a police detention center where she went into a coma and died in hospital a few days later. News and evidence point to the fact that she was beaten by morality police officers while in custody.
Violence against Mahsa Amini is an example of the violence of the morality police officers against Iranian women in recent months.
One year after Ebrahim Raisi taking office, oppression against Iranian women and the government’s interference in people’s private affairs increased so much that citizens do not feel safe and free even within their own homes.
In recent days, protests over the death of Mahsa Amini spread to different cities and universities. As these protests heightened, some Iranian officials and state-run media outlets, as always, denounced these demonstrations as “riots” and “insurrections.” Several protesters were killed and many were wounded.
As these protests have spread to different cities, NetBlocks, which monitors the speed and access to the internet all over the world, confirmed an internet outage in the city of Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province.
In its latest report, NetBlocks said that for 3 and a half hours, the internet was completely cut off in Kurdistan Province.
With the murder of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian government is once again facing public pressure to stop enforcing illegal restraints on people’s lives. But the way the government is reacting to people’s widespread protests by bullets and batons demonstrates once again that crackdown is the only tool left for the revolutionary government. However, according to public opinion, the only way to communicate with this government of bullets and batons is by taking to the streets.
Iranian Women React to the Death of Mahsa Amini; From Setting Fire to Headscarves to Cutting Hair
In addition to the widespread protests across Iran over the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, the most recent victim of forced hijab in Tehran, a large number of Iranians took off their headscarves – the symbol of forced hijab – in public places of different cities to show their anger and objection.
In addition to women in Kurdistan Province who took off their headscarves in street protests, a number of women have done the same in other cities including Tehran and Isfahan as seen in footage released on social media.
Furthermore, in recent days, some women posted videos on social media of setting fire to their headscarves to show their anger and protest against forced hijab.
Two actresses, Katayoun Riyahi and Shabnam Farshadjoo, also released footage of themselves without wearing the hijab in protest to forced hijab and also to condemn the death of Mahsa Amini.
In the cities of Rasht and Mashhad, similar protests were held, and people chanted, “In so far as mullahs are not buried, this land will not prosper!”
According to reports on social media, security and law enforcement forces in Tehran arrested a number of protesters and took them to unknown locations in ambulances.
Current protests, which have coincided with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s trip to New York to take part in the UN General Assembly, have made Iranian officials and authorities concerned over the protests that might be held against Raisi and the Iranian government overseas.
Deaths of 100 Iranians in Arbaeen March; Pilgrims Returned With Cholera
Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Mohammad Kazem al Sadeq announced that in this year’s Arbaeen march, about 100 Iranian pilgrims lost their lives due to road accidents, underlying medical conditions, or old age.
According to Sadeq, more than 90 percent of Iranian pilgrims have so far returned to the country, adding that approximately 100 people lost their lives which shows a decrease compared to the previous Arbaeen march held in 2019.
The Iranian ambassador also stated that a number of pilgrims lost their identity documents, adding that a small number of pilgrims are lost or separated from their families.
In the meantime, Spokesperson for Isfahan Medical Science University Pejman Aghdak announced that 12 individuals have so far contracted cholera, adding that most of them are those who have recently returned from Iraq.
Aghdak recommended that all citizens who went to Iraq for the recent Arbaeen ceremony should quarantine in case they develop any symptoms and must go to a physician if the symptoms get worse.
In recent weeks, many experts have warned about the outbreak of certain contagious diseases like coronavirus and cholera in Iran because of millions of Iranians going to Iraq for the Arbaeen march.
In recent months, the World Health Organization and Iraqi Health Ministry officials have warned about the outbreak of cholera in this country.
Cholera is transmitted by contaminated water and food and includes symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, and can be fatal in some cases.
Despite extensive propaganda by the Iranian government’s organizations regarding the successful conclusion of the Arbaeen march, reports and videos of the Arbaeen ceremony released on social media show poor hygiene standards, particularly in distributing water and food.
Chamber of Commerce: Slow Internet Disrupts Economic Activity
Following the disruption of the internet in Iran in recent months, a Chamber of Commerce official criticized the slowing down of the internet, urging that because of this situation, stock market transactions have run into difficulty.
Babak Abedin, deputy head of the IT Commission at the Chamber of Commerce, stated that “The internet, as the most important factor in transferring data in economic transactions, is disrupted, and this paves the way for rival countries to replace us [Iran] in trade relations in the region.”
Pointing to the fact that all stock market transactions in Iran are done through the internet, Abedin added that 90 percent of new production lines must be directly connected to factories through high-speed internet.
In the meantime, the Iranian government is trying to impose more curbs on access to the internet in Iran in the form of creating the National Data Network, and is also taking other measures like the “internet protection plan” to exercise more control over the internet.
The internet protection plan has been extensively criticized by economic actors over the past few years.
The deputy head of the IT Commission at the Chamber of Commerce stated in this regard that restrictive plans, including the internet protection plan, are not in compliance with Iran’s cooperation agreements with the CIS countries and East Asian countries, adding that if the speed of transferring data in Iran is not the same as those countries, the country will undoubtedly face serious challenges in economic activities.
Against the backdrop of increasing criticism regarding the speed and quality of the internet in Iran, a few months ago the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology alleged that “internet speed in Iran has witnessed a 10 percent increase.”
But this claim was later rejected in a technical report by Khabar Online, which stated that during the past six months the internet has been constantly disrupted in Iran.
More than 80 percent of digital businesses in Iran are reportedly dependent on social media platforms and the poor speed and quality of the internet has negatively impacted these businesses.