JCPOA and the FATF; Hope and Fear
The editorial of Arman Melli sees the nuclear deal (JCPOA) and ratifying the FATF bills as interdependent issues, urging that Iran must decide to resolve both as soon as possible.
The JCPOA and the FATF bills depend on Western countries’ decisions, and it seems that they keep toughening their conditions. Previously, they offered better conditions, but now they are raising other issues, which makes the situation more difficult for Iran. As for Iran, there is no will to resolve the issues of the JCPOA and the FATF.
Western countries do not seem enthusiastic about the JCPOA and they will probably have preconditions that Iran must accept in order to enter the nuclear talks. Of course, it was recently said that Iran wants Biden’s administration to guarantee that America will not pull out of the nuclear deal, while the Iranian foreign minister demanded that the Americans should unblock $10 billion of Iran’s assets. The demand was rejected outright.
It seems that there is hope and fear regarding these issues, while Iranian authorities have not been able to make up their minds. The other sides too are toughening their stances, which will naturally make reaching an agreement more difficult.
Unlike what some say and promise, Western countries will not be soft on Iran. The more Iran shows flexibility, the more they will demand and set difficult conditions.
In so far as the JCPOA is concerned, the conditions have worsened. In so far as the FATF is concerned, it is an inevitable issue about which Iran must decide on sooner rather than later. Because if the sanctions are lifted, banks will not be willing to cooperate with Iran if the FATF bills are not ratified.
Of course, even if the sanctions are lifted and the FATF bills are accepted and ratified by Iran, it will take a long time for Iran to normalize banking relations, but it does not make less significant the issue of ratifying the bills and resolving the issue of the JCPOA.
Current Solutions and Economic Problems
The editorial of Aftab Yazd states that Ebrahim Raisi’s government, in its first three months, has failed to do anything significant to help resolve the economic problems in the country.
Three months after Ebrahim Raisi took office, the value of the national currency is still dropping and the forex reserve is still going down. In the absence of investment and with US sanctions still in place, there is not enough revenue for the national economy.
Over the past three decades, Iran has adopted flawed macroeconomic policies. During the first three months of Raisi’s presidency, he issued an order to his cabinet to bring down prices, but to no avail; inflation is still skyrocketing.
It seems that instead of listening to economic experts to resolve people’s economic problems, the government’s economic and foreign policies have increased inflation, and in the meantime, government officials still blame the problems on former President Hassan Rouhani’s policies.
But they cannot blame all the country’s problems on Rouhani. Inflation and people’s poor living conditions cannot be resolved by issuing orders and slogans. The rate of inflation has reached its highest, as a result of which economic experts have no hope for the future of the country’s economy. And if the current policymaking regarding the country’s economy and foreign policy continues, inflation will certainly reach a triple digit number in Iran next year.
Central planning in the country is not directed at resolving problems. More and more damage is inflicted on the country’s economy and national interests, while the economy continues to contract significantly. Social conditions are not good, international relations are not promising, sanctions are still in place and the nuclear talks are stalled. Iran’s political and economic relations with its southern neighbors are disappointing, while Iran’s geopolitical position is weakened by its northern neighbors.
The editorial of Jahan Sanat holds that America seeks to give Iran an ultimatum regarding the nuclear deal, stressing that Iranian officials have no choice but to show more diplomatic flexibility in their measures.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi has said he will go to Iran in the coming days and, apparently, he is willing to meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. This and other recent diplomatic visits show that the West, led by America, is sending a clear message – and giving an ultimatum to Iran.
In light of the recent meeting between Grossi and US Secretary of State Blinken, one can gather that the Americans, pressured by Israel and Arab countries, are giving Iran an ultimatum. Iran, therefore, is caught in unfavorable circumstances, and if Iranian authorities decide to continue with the situation as it is, supposing that they can get more concessions with their passive-aggressive policy, they are certainly making a big mistake.
Under the current circumstances, Iran has no choice but to reduce its expectations and follow a flexible diplomatic approach to resolve the issue. Measures like signing contracts with countries like China will not help resolve the issues and they cannot resolve Iran’s economic problems.
It is absolutely necessary for Iran to resume talks and have direct negotiations with America. Meanwhile, it seems that Iran is gradually losing the EU’s support which acted as a buffer [between Iran and America].
So, Iran must take three specific steps: direct negotiations with America, reduce its expectations and adopt a more flexible diplomacy. But the remarks and statements made by Iranian officials indicate that they do not seem to have a proper grasp of the situation. Iran is in no position to impose preconditions, demanding that $10 billion must be given to Iran. This is a mistake and has no place in politics.
Of course, Iran is worried about other expectations of America and the EU which are related to human rights issues, its missile program and regional issues. Iran does not want to give in to such negotiations, which is why it is after keeping negotiations focused on the nuclear deal.
There Is No Logic!
The editorial of Aftab Yazd focuses on the recent cooperation contract signed between Iran and Venezuela, stating that there is no logic behind it as neither country is going to benefit from it.
In the international community, signing contracts is very significant, and one can see and analyze its significance in different political, economic and cultural fields. But in these contracts, one thing is very important: the main point is who benefits from such contracts.
In general, on the international level, countries that are politically, economically and socially weaker go to more powerful countries so that by signing a contract, they can compensate for their own shortcomings and make progress. Moreover, powerful countries that share the same geopolitical dominance sign such contracts to establish cooperation in different fields.
But as for the contract recently signed between Iran and Venezuela, we should see which one benefits more from it. Going over a few questions will clarify the answer.
How influential is Venezuela in the international domain? What is the impact of Venezuela’s economy on the world’s economy? How can Venezuela help Iran with the sanctions?
Likewise, we must ask: to what extent does Iran need Venezuela in the talks for reviving the nuclear deal? How much can Iran count on Venezuela’s market for exporting its goods? How can Venezuela’s unbridled inflation help Iran in trading forex?
If we can find proper, logical answers to these questions, we can then defend this contract. The truth is that Venezuela does not need Iran, and Iran cannot count on help from Venezuela. Both countries are under strong sanctions by the United States and Europe. Venezuela is suffering from a severe political crisis, and its political system might collapse any minute and be replaced with a pro-West system, which will mean nullification of the contract with Iran.
More importantly, if Venezuela was a good place for long-term profitable investments, Russia, China and other world powers would undoubtedly go there. Perhaps, Iran and Venezuela share anti-American policies and sentiments and are after confronting America, but no logic will justify signing such a contract between these two countries given their economic circumstances.
Iran could sign such a contract with a country that would be able to help it with its exports and provide the country with the forex that it needs. The Iranian Parliament must discuss this issue and prevent possible losses due to this contract.
Cyberattack Against Gas Stations; Message of “Khamenei, Where Is Our Gas?” on Billboards
According to Iranian media, the distribution of gasoline in gas stations across the country was cut off due to what was called a “disruption” in the smart fuel system.
ISNA reported that according to the head of the Gas Station Owners’ Association, a cyberattack was launched against gas stations in Iran, but the news was later deleted without any explanation.
At the same time, digital billboards in Tehran were hacked showing this message: “Khamenei, where is our gas?”
ISNA reported that digital billboards in Isfahan too were hacked showing these messages: “Free gasoline in Jamaran gas station” and “Khamenei, where is our gas?” But this news was also later deleted from ISNA’s website.
This cyberattack took place on the eve of the anniversary of the popular protests in November 2019 in which widespread protests across Iran were held in reaction to the 200 percent increase in the gasoline price; the protests immediately turned into anti-establishment protests and protesters faced brutal crackdowns by security and intelligence forces.
According to Iran’s former interior minister, between 200 to 225 people were killed during the 2019 protests, but Amnesty International reported that 307 people were killed in the November protests, urging that the number of deaths may be much higher. According to a Reuters report based on Iranian officials’ remarks, approximately 1,500 were killed in these widespread protests.
Last week, social network users talked of a possible increase in the price of gasoline, but the Oil Ministry denied the “rumor of any increase in the gasoline price.”
Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi too has said that there is no plan for increasing the gasoline price. While Iranians are facing a possible fuel price increase, Iran has sent fuel shipments to Syria, Venezuela and Lebanon by sea.
Iran’s Harsh Reaction to UN Special Rapporteur’s Report on Violations of Human Rights
Javaid Rehman, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, recently reported on the continuation of violations of human rights in Iran, saying that the death penalty is implemented in the country “at an alarming rate.” He was reporting to the UN General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee.
Iran’s representative in the United Nations issued a statement calling Javaid Rehman’s report “defective” and “in line with repeating malicious clichés.” At the same time, Secretary-General of the Human Rights Office Kazem Gharibabadi called Rehman’s report “a political and misleading measure” and slammed Sweden, Canada, America and Britain, accusing them of taking advantage of human rights mechanisms to cover up their own anti-human rights measures.
In reaction to Rehman’s report, Iran stated that appointing a special rapporteur for Iran is “an unfair plan and with political motives by the West, particularly Canada, and in line with the hostile views against the Iranian nation.”
Javaid Rehman in his report states that Iran has turned the death penalty into a political tool, calling for Iran to amend its laws and revoke the death penalty which is in defiance of international law.
He also strongly criticized the high number of executions in Iran, saying that death penalty sentences are often imposed arbitrarily.
According to the Islamic Penal Code (IPC) ratified in 2013 in Iran, the death penalty is provided for in relation to several charges, which is in contradiction with international law.
Rehman particularly named three charges that, in Iran’s judicial system, lead to the issuing of the death sentence and are used against political opponents and political protesters: waging war against God, corruption on earth and rebellion.
The special rapporteur expressed his concern about issuing the death penalty for children, urging that Iran is one of the few countries in the world that acts in this way, while it is absolutely prohibited in international law.
Iranian Households Below the “Housing Poverty” Line
The advisor to the minister of roads and urban development has said that 40 percent of Iranian households are below the “housing poverty” line, while this number reaches 70 percent in Tehran.
In an interview with Iranian state-run television, Abolfazl Norouzi defined the indicator of “housing poverty,” saying “the households that spend more than 30 percent of their monthly or annual incomes on paying for rent and other housing-related expenses are considered as “house poor.’”
The head of the Renovation Organization of Tehran had said in 2019 that 40 percent of households in this city were below the “housing poverty” line, while this number, according to government officials, has increased to 70 percent.
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Roustam Ghassemi has repeatedly made a pledge to construct 4,000,000 houses during the next four years.
In the meantime, the Statistical Center of Iran has issued a new report regarding the inflation rate which shows that the prices of food items and beverages increased by 61.4 percent during the past 12 months, which is a new record for food inflation.
With regard to food items, the prices of fats and oils increased up to 94 percent, while the prices of cheese, milk and eggs increased by 71 percent.
In September-October, annual inflation of select items and services reached 45.4 percent, showing a minor decrease compared to the previous month, but the increase in food prices was much more than other goods and services.
These statistics are assessments made by the Statistical Center of Iran, while the domestic media’s reports regarding the increase in prices indicate that the inflation rate is possibly higher than what is announced by the public bodies.
The head of the Parliament’s Budget and Plan Commission recently said about 40 million people in Iran are in need of urgent, immediate help.
77 Percent of Iranian Women Experienced Violence During the Pandemic
A study shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, 77 percent of women in Iran have experienced some form of violence. The highest level has been in relation to mental violence.
According to the results of the study conducted among 5,317 women, 77.2 percent had at least experienced some form of violence during coronavirus. The study was conducted by researchers at Iran University of Medical Sciences in the five cities of Tehran, Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz and Ahvaz.
Of the 5,317 women who participated in the study, 4,107 women said they had experienced at least one form of violence during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Of the women who suffered violence during this period, 91.2 percent were subjected to mental abuse, 65.8 percent physical abuse and 42.6 percent sexual abuse.
The study shows that violence has been more prevalent against younger, less educated women. Violence against women facing difficult economic circumstances has been four times higher than against women who are financially stronger.
According to the study, the research shows that violence has a direct correlation to the consumption of cigarettes, alcohol and narcotic drugs.
The statistics recently released by the Statistical Center of Iran show that of the 80,187 people who had been examined by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization last year, 77,096 women said they were harmed by their husbands. In other words, women’s share of physical abuse was 96 percent.
Last year, it was announced that 88.5 percent of women who were victims of domestic abuse were housekeepers, unemployed and only 11.5 percent of them had jobs.