The editorial of Jahan Sanat talks about the tough situation that the Iranian people are grappling with, while the “ultra-conservative” government of Ebrahim Raisi keeps making wrong decisions.
In these strange times, Iranians are witnessing difficulties in their own lives which are perhaps unprecedented in Iran’s contemporary history – even when the country was invaded by foreign forces. What distinguishes today’s life in Iran from the past centuries is the many miseries people have to deal with, while there is no bright future for overcoming these problems in the short run.
We must admit that the government, families, and civil society are all facing big challenges. For example, the Iranian establishment, headed by the government, is adopting the policy of eliminating the subsidized forex rate now that its revenue from exporting oil is cut off in the short run and it does not want to cut the budgets of certain public bodies and cannot make structural reforms in the national budget. Those who were staunch opponents of liberalizing prices in the market for decades are now surprisingly standard bearers of the free market!
Politicians and “ultra-conservative” political groups attributed the 10 percent increase in the price of fuel during the Reform Government to the World Bank, but the IMF are now surprisingly backing the skyrocketing prices of basic goods. Now, worse than this is their brandishing of swords against the media and journalists.
They justify the government’s move by saying that while prices have increased , the government has given subsidies to low-income groups. This group does not see, or pretends not to see, the problems of implementing this plan.
If these uncertain times continue as such, it will end in tragedy, and we must be ready for anything that the future might bring.
The editorial of Mostaghel explains how the recent unrest in relation to skyrocketing prices is a manifestation of the abject frustration of those who have nothing to lose against those who still have a lot to lose.
These days, pictures of the protests against high prices in different cities are being widely circulated across social media. Those who share these images think that these demonstrations in small and big cities will end in a structural change and the situation will improve in Iran. They have one thing in common: they do not have a correct understanding of today’s conditions in Iranian society.
Because of regional and international developments, ethnic and religious divides, the lack of adequate alternatives, the environmental crisis (particularly the water crisis), increasing poverty, and many other issues, there is no potential for a revolutionary transition and structural change in Iran. Any unrest aimed at creating changes in the status quo will have one definite outcome: rebellion and complete anarchy.
The logic of rebellion is different from that of reform and change. In rebellion, no unified demands are raised. It is the outcome of the overflow of powerful emotions such as frustration and hopelessness; but does not necessarily lead to reform . Rebels are too consumed by disappointment and do not call for creating a new model.
Rebels take to the streets causing ruin and destruction and know that they themselves are the first victims of their own uncontainable wrath. Rebels do not represent any social group. They do not have any particular social or political demands. They are not against this or that ministry, organization, or public body. They do not offer any alternatives.
This is a war against society itself. A rebellion does not represent a dispute among “conservatives,” monarchists, “reformists,” etc. Rather, it is a fight between those who have nothing to lose with those who still have a lot to lose.
The editorial of Arman Melli argues that given the changes in the world and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Iran must revive the nuclear deal (JCPOA).
The JCPOA talks have been stalled for two months, and clearly the negotiators have tried to spin this bad news in a positive way. In the meantime, the EU representative for foreign affairs has implicitly referred to obstacles created by external factors.
Everybody knows that one of these external factors is the Russian war against Ukraine. We are not under the illusion that with the restoration of the JCPOA, everything will be fixed in Iran, but given the economic pressure and the inflation rate, we need the JCPOA. Particularly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Iran has insisted on reviving the JCPOA immediately, because the world is in chaos and the future is uncertain.
The world is on the verge of a catastrophe, and in a fragile situation. Iran is located on a geopolitical fault line, where all equations have changed. All equations before the Russian invasion of Ukraine have changed in the world, so our analysis and policy must immediately change in proportion with the new dangers.
Today, the reason for reviving the JCPOA is not the same as a few weeks ago. The West, today, needs to revive the JCPOA more than ever. Given the conditions in Iran and the war in Ukraine, the risk has increased for Iran. Not all risk factors can be clearly identified at present. But the level of risk must be minimized, and Iran must act wisely.
On the other hand, those who have been against the JCPOA from the very beginning must know that the JCPOA is not a matter of factional politics. There is no guarantee that the absence of the JCPOA will be to their advantage. Rather, not reaching an agreement over the JCPOA may further undermine their political goals.
The editorial of Ebtekar argues that having spent so much money on the education of elites and university graduates, the government must take necessary measures to incentivize them to stay in Iran.
Recently, an Iranian celebrity, Adel Ferdosipour, who was talking to graduates at Sharif University, made a few points about the brain drain in Iran which provoked widespread discussion on social media.
Ferdosipour said that the elites leaving the country is like a stab in his heart, calling for graduates to stay in the country and overcome the obstacles, though no red carpet is laid out for them. He added that even though the elites might have to work for people who have no expertise in their fields, they should stay, pave the way for themselves, and make the country more prosperous.
Some saw Ferdosipour’s remarks as aiming to foster patriotism among the elites and praised him. Some argued that economic, livelihood and employment conditions are so inadequate that the elites cannot stay in the country, arguing that under these circumstances, the elites cannot make progress and patriotism is not enough. Some called for redefining the concept of the elite, arguing that elites are not necessarily those who have graduated from famous universities; rather, they maintained that elites are entrepreneurs who have been able to succeed without the government’s aid.
Despite such disputes over who should or should not be considered as elites, the issue of emigration of university graduates must be taken seriously and certain policies must be introduced to reduce the rate of emigration.
Measures like eliminating nepotism in recruitment, establishing clear rules and regulations for hiring, creating a certain quota for hiring from among the elites in government institutes, centers and factories, and giving them low-interest loans can surely be good as incentives for preventing the emigration of elites and incentivizing them to stay in the country.
It must be admitted that if the necessary conditions for elites are not created to stay in the country, they will be pushed to go to rich, industrialized countries where they will be easily employed. In fact, these countries attract elites effortlessly, without paying for their education and other expenses.
Now the question is: how come that when so much is spent on these people’s education, they are being neglected and forced to leave the country? We cannot reasonably expect all elites to think like Ferdosipour and stay and overcome the difficulties!
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced the assassination of IRGC Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodaee in Tehran. He was reportedly killed upon leaving his house with five bullets fired by two motorcyclists. The released images show that he was killed in his car.
The IRGC statement described this colonel as a “defender of the shrine.” He was a member of the Quds Force, the expeditionary arm of the IRGC for military operations.
In the Iranian media, the forces deployed to Syria to back Bashar Assad’s government or Iraq to fight ISIS forces are referred to as “defenders of the shrine.”
In reaction to this assassination, the Iranian president accused the “world arrogance and those who were defeated by defenders of the shrine” for this incident, vowing to take “revenge.” “World arrogance” in Iranian official jargon means Israel and America.
Raisi vowed to avenge this assassination while Iranian officials have recurrently pledged to avenge the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the former Quds Force commander who was killed in a drone attack by America in Baghdad.
Avenging the death of Qassem Soleimani has now become an impediment to reaching an agreement over the nuclear deal.
The IRGC spokesperson attributed the assassination of Sayad Khodaee to America and Israel, urging that this “will make the IRGC more determined in countering the enemies.”
According to Israeli media, the assassinated Iranian colonel had planned to carry out sabotage operations against Israelis and Jews all over the world, urging that Mossad had foiled previous sabotage plots of Sayad Khodaee.
Those who had planned this operation had intentionally opted for conducting it in broad daylight in the heart of Tehran to show no target is safe in Iran.
Some Israeli media outlets have alleged that Sayad Khodaee was second in command in the Quds Force’s Unit 840. The Israeli army had earlier asserted that Unit 840 is commissioned with targeting Israelis or even Iranians who are against the Iranian government.
This is not the first time that a member of the IRGC Quds Force has been targeted, but it is the first time that such an operation has happened within Iran.
So far, most assassinations conducted within Iran were related to the nuclear program.
A 10-story building, Metropol Tower, collapsed in the city of Abadan, Khuzestan Province, killing and injuring many, with an extensive relief operation underway to save those trapped under the rubble.
So far, 14 people have reportedly lost their lives and the number is still rising, while a large number of people are still trapped under the rubble. There are no exact statistics about those trapped under the rubble.
According to Khuzestan’s prosecutor, 10 suspects have been arrested in this regard including the current and two former mayors of the city.
There are contradictory reports about the owner and the main contractor of the building, Hossein Abdolbaghi. Earlier, domestic media reported Abdolbaghi’s arrest, but later it was announced that he had been present at the scene of the incident and lost his life.
As a result, there is widespread speculation across social media calling Abdolbaghi’s death fake news.
Khuzestan’s governor stated that the cause of the building collapse was “not observing the rules and regulations and technical issues.” In 2019, the permit for constructing a six-story building was issued, but later three and two more floors were added to it.
Citizens of Abadan have been warned to stay as far away as possible as another part of the building is in danger of collapse.
Following the incident, citizens took to the streets in protest, chanting slogans like “Today is the day of mourning, helpless Abadan is in mourning!”
A few hours after the collapse of the building, anti-riot forces were stationed around the building, while traffic in the center of the city was blocked.
Moreover, Abadan’s citizens have reported a slowdown and disruption in internet services after this incident.
Iranian lawmakers have agreed to exempt the armed forces, Intelligence Ministry and Atomic Energy Organization from the transparency bill.
In addition, Iran’s security council and provincial security councils have been exempted from transparency.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have decided that all private institutions in charge of public health, legal centers, NGOs and charity foundations are subject to the transparency bill, and will be penalized for not following it.
Except for confidential information, those subjected to this bill are required to release their data, public information and decisions through their websites.
If the ratification of this bill is approved by the Guardian Council, it will turn into legislation. The Guardian Council and Assembly of Experts are not subject to the transparency bill either.
The Iranian Parliament, cabinet, Expediency Council, city and village councils are required to release the details of their negotiations and votes, if the bill is approved by the Guardian Council.
Major public bodies are exempted from transparency while in the bill’s introduction, it is explained that its aim is to build social capital and promote public trust.
In Iran, most public bodies are not subject to transparency and oversight; the Parliament’s bill seeks to increase transparency over public bodies.
All bodies under the aegis of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are not monitored and their activities are not transparent. Ahmad Tavakoli, former head of the Parliament’s Research Center, said that in 2018 he had proposed a bill for ensuring the transparency of the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office, but it was rejected.
All over the world, governments are obliged to share information with the public and ensure transparency and accountability for the decisions made on behalf of their citizens.
According to Iranian media, the import of iPhones has been banned. After the announcement of the news, the price of cellphones increased significantly in the market.
iPhones were categorized under Group 27, intended for luxury and unnecessary goods. No forex can be legally allocated for importing such products.
Following criticisms made against the import of cellphones over $600, members of the Article 90 Commission of the Parliament promised to ban the import of iPhones in Iran.
Iranian state-run television network IRIB pointed to the directive of the minister of industry and trade to ban the import of American luxury goods, calling for banning the import of iPhones to Iran.
Ali Khezrian, spokesperson for the Article 90 Commission, said in this regard that based on the promise made by the minister of industry and trade, they would ban the import of Apple products to Iran.
In 2020, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had asked Hassan Rouhani’s government to ban the import of luxury cellphones, but the government only doubled the customs tariffs of cellphones priced at over $600.
The widespread use of luxury cellphones by Iranian officials, particularly Apple products, has provoked widespread outrage.
While in 2020, the Iranian supreme leader warned against the import of American luxury cellphones, his Russian account on Twitter released many tweets from an iPhone.
Furthermore, last year, Qassem Soleimani’s daughter was pictured holding an iPhone 13 Pro-Max, which is one of the most expensive cellphones of Apple.
In the meantime, there was significant growth in Iran-EU trade in the first three months of 2022.
According to the EU Statistical Center, the 27 members of the EU imported goods worth 277 million euros from Iran during the first three months of 2022, showing a 40 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
Moreover, the EU’s exports to Iran increased by 18 percent reaching 1.54 billion euros.
Germany’s share in the EU’s trade with Iran exceeded 30 percent.
Iran’s other top EU trading partners are respectively Italy, Spain, and Romania.
Despite the significant growth in Iran-EU trade in the first three months of this year, Iran’s trade with the 27 members of the EU is far less than before the imposition of US sanctions.
In the first three months of 2018 when US sanctions had not been enforced against Iran, Iran’s imports from the EU reached 2.3 billion euros and its exports to the EU were valued at 2.9 billion euros.