Impact of Natural Gas Outages on Companies
The editorial of Tejarat argues that as Iran is facing a shortage of natural gas, companies and industries are going to suffer losses and might even have to close down.
As a result of the persistent natural gas shortage over the years, the priority is to reduce the natural gas consumption of industries, which will certainly result in a decrease in industrial production and an increase in losses.
This will affect companies listed on the stock market more palpably. As the Iranian people are the main shareholders of these publicly listed companies, they are the ones who are going to suffer losses. Companies cannot do much, and depending on their activities, the natural gas outage might result in staff redundancies or even shut downs.
Meanwhile, the price of natural gas for domestic consumption is less than the price paid by industries and also less than international prices. Of course, it must be said that while the domestic gas price is heavily subsidized, people’s incomes are plummeting, and households cannot afford to pay the real cost of energy.
The issue is different for high income households. These households use natural gas a lot and carelessly. But they pay higher prices for only a part of the natural gas they consume, while paying the subsidized price for the rest of it. However, it seems that even paying a much higher price would not coerce these people into consuming less natural gas.
Parliament Should Offer Plans for Resolving Country’s Issues
The editorial of Arman Melli, penned by “reformist” activist Dariush Ghanbari, explains why Iranian lawmakers act as critics rather than decision makers who must propose plans and programs for resolving the country’s issues, particularly the economic problems.
Although the Iranian government and Parliament are aligned and are expected to interact and cooperate with each other, the Parliament was formed to confront the previous government and its approach is critical and confrontational rather than positive and constructive. From the beginning, this Parliament was formed to criticize the previous government, headed by Hassan Rouhani, and now the lawmakers have forgotten that the current government is in line with them and are still confronting it with the same attitude and approach as they did against the previous one.
There are many issues and problems in the country – the most important of which is the economic crisis which has put a lot of pressure on people. But some lawmakers act as if they are the critics of the government and continue to lambast the government’s performance.
Obviously, after two years of the formation of the Parliament and almost one year after the current government taking office, the lawmakers have not changed the approach they adopted against Hassan Rouhani’s government.
Some lawmakers still hold that it is their duty to criticize the government instead of offering plans for resolving the country’s issues and problems. They think that their only duty is to act as critics of the government and its performance. But these lawmakers are in a position of power: the Parliament is in the position of decision-making and legislating for the country.
Of course, as we get closer to the end of this Parliament’s term, the lawmakers’ critical approach will become even harsher, particularly because this is the third year of the Parliament and next year will be the last year for the lawmakers. So, their views will become more extreme, as some lawmakers hope to gain people’s votes in this manner. But they have to be accountable to the people for the measures they approved.
Officials Do Not Believe It, People Live It!
The editorial of Arman Melli sheds light on the widening gap between Iranian officials and the public and how they can no longer understand each other.
It is a tough situation. Officials say one thing, people do not believe it, because they say it is not true. People say one thing, officials do not believe it. It is as if they are total strangers. A few days ago, General Fotoohi wrote that because of the sharp social disparity, different social segments are not capable of understanding each other. That is true: social groups do not understand each other.
It is a bad situation. Of course, in recent days, there was some good news about the resumption of nuclear talks. French President Emmanuel Macron called for making Iran’s oil available in the market and resuming the nuclear talks, which would make it possible to reach an agreement over the nuclear deal.
Officials must know that life has become really difficult, almost impossible, for low-income families. It has become stifling for them. Officials must acknowledge that the inflation rate is high and is impacting people’s lives. People cannot pay their rent and can no longer find affordable, decent places to live. When, for instance, a landlord increased rents fivefold, the stress caused tenants to die in their sleep. People are eating chicken bones because they cannot buy chicken meat.
When officials condemn runaway inflation and issue an order to contain prices, they perhaps have forgotten that the economy cannot be managed by merely issuing an order.
It is hard to believe that the price of houses and apartments has reached almost 40 million tomans per meter in Tehran; enough to give anyone a heart attack!
Officials must accept that people are in an impossible situation: officials do not believe it, but people are living it!
Glimmer of Hope in Qatar
The editorial of Arman Melli, penned by former “reformist” academic Sadegh Zibakalam, argues that Iran-US indirect talks in Qatar would provide a good opportunity for Iran to return to the global oil market, given the crisis in this market due to the Russian war in Ukraine.
Earlier, it was predicted that with the unanimity of different branches of the establishment in Iran, a new nuclear deal would be signed in 2021. Some make criticisms saying that 2021 is over, but there is no sign of an agreement.
But it seems that indirect talks held between the United States and Iran in Qatar have taken Iran one step closer to a new deal. The Americans insist on making Europe and other countries independent of Russian oil and gas, which is under sanctions. One way for realizing this is to allow Iran to sell its oil in the global market.
It is estimated that Iran has 40 million barrels of crude oil in store which is available in oil tankers or in oil reserves in the country. If this oil, in addition to 2 million barrels of oil that Iran can export per day, is offered in the global market, it will, to some extent, compensate for the shortfall in international oil supplies because of the sanctions on Russian oil.
Therefore, this provides a golden opportunity for Iran: because of the Russian war in Ukraine and the shortage of oil in the global market, the Americans will likely show more flexibility to allow Iran to export its oil, while partially releasing Iran’s assets which are blocked in India, China, Japan, and South Korea. So, it is possible to reach an agreement in Qatar.
Of course, we must consider the fact that the Republicans in the United States are against any agreement with Iran. But it seems that US President Joe Biden has been able to win over more Democrats, while making promises to the Israelis about Iran’s nuclear activities.
But we can see that radical “hardliners” in Iran still do not believe in negotiations. So, if the talks in Qatar fail, it will be the last chance for negotiations.
Khamenei’s Representative: We Must Train Forces to Fearlessly Pull the Trigger!
Hossein Tayebifar, deputy representative of the Iranian supreme leader in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said that this military institution must train soldiers to fearlessly pull the trigger.
Prior to that, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had asked his supporters to “fire at will” if necessary. In 2017, Khamenei had used the military expression of “fire at will,” saying that “whenever you feel there is a problem with the center and it cannot manage properly, you [have the power to] fire at will there, meaning that you should decide, think, find, move, and act.” Khamenei’s remarks provoked many reactions at that time, and critics saw it as the Iranian supreme leader authorizing his supporters to confront opponents, warning that this message would create chaos.
Furthermore, in recent weeks, the bill for reforming the law for carrying guns by the armed forces in emergency cases has been raised and is going to be passed by the Parliament, giving more authority to security forces to use their weapons.
In the meantime, with the increasing state interference in Iranian people’s lifestyles, different officials have talked of confrontation with hosts of “Instagram live” programs, establishing “invisible patrols,” enforcing controls and increasing prohibitions not only for women but also for men.
A senior Iran Cyber Police official announced a plan for “identifying and confronting” the so-called “immoral” and “criminal” live programs on Instagram. In the city of Mashhad, a plan for monitoring “chastity” is going to be enforced, aiming at “chastity in look, talk, moves, interaction, and coverings.” In addition to compulsory hijab for women, men too must follow certain dress codes like “not wearing ties, western symbols, T-shirts, tight shirts, etc.” The plan also bans men and women from using “illegal photos without Islamic coverings in cyberspace as their profile photos.”
The practice of restricting women, forcibly imposing dress codes and interfering in people’s lifestyles is not limited to Mashhad, and in recent days, it was also announced that if a so-called “bad hijab” woman is seen in a bank, the manager of that branch will be held accountable.
Value of National Currency Continues to Drop After Failure of Last Round of Nuclear Talks
After the last round of nuclear talks in Qatar proved disappointing, the price of the US dollar has continued to rise against the Iranian national currency.
From the beginning of the Iranian year (March 21), the nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers were stalled and, as a result, the Iranian national currency lost one fourth of its value. But following the announcement of Iran’s decision to resume indirect talks with the United States through European mediation, the rate of the US dollar fell from 33,000 tomans to 30,000 tomans per dollar.
Nevertheless, after announcing the failure of the talks in Doha, the rate of the dollar started rising, reaching 32,750 tomans on Saturday, July 2.
It is not clear yet how much longer the rate of the dollar will continue to rise against the Iranian national currency, but it has continued to soar in recent days.
The OPEC annual report, released last week, shows that Iran’s revenues from exporting oil in 2021 tripled compared to 2020, but the report adds that Iran’s entire oil and non-oil exports were equal to its imports last year. So, despite the increase in oil revenues, more forex did not enter the country.
In the meantime, the Iranian Central Bank’s statistics show that in the past nine months alone, capital flight from Iran has reached more than $10 billion.
The drop in the national currency has resulted in unbridled inflation in Iran. According to the latest report of the Iranian Statistical Center, point-by-point inflation reached more than 52 percent last month. In other words, the growth in prices last month was more than 52 percent compared to the same month last year.
Following the drop in the value of the national currency, the latest statistics of the Central Bank show that the growth in housing prices last month was 8.4 percent more compared to the month before, and the average price of residential houses broke all records reaching almost 39.5 million tomans per square meter, which shows a 33 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
Coronavirus in Iran; Number of People Going to Hospital Triples; Warning About Two New Variants
While the Iranian Health Ministry announced a tripling in the number of hospitalizations due to coronavirus across the country, a member of the scientific committee at the Headquarters for Combatting Coronavirus warned that two new variants of coronavirus might soon become dominant in Iran.
Massoud Yunessian, the secretary of the Coronavirus Epidemiology Committee, pointed to the spread of BA.4 and BA.5 variants of coronavirus in other countries, stressing that it will not be surprising if these two variants become dominant in Iran soon.
While the Health Ministry earlier announced that the number of deaths due to coronavirus had dropped to zero, Yunessian conversely stated that the number of deaths because of coronavirus infections might reach double digits.
Iranian media has also reported on the threefold increase in hospitalizations and outpatients due to coronavirus in Iran.
In some regions, the number of hospitalizations is even more; according to the head of Ahwaz’s health center, the number of coronavirus patients at this center last week increased sixfold.
In the meantime, the secretary of the Coronavirus Epidemiology Committee said that despite the Health Ministry’s announcement, the number of coronavirus tests administered in Iran has not increased.
Meanwhile, the head of the Center for Disease Control in the Iranian Health Ministry stated that the rate of vaccinations for children under 12 is low in the country.
In Iran, Chinese and Iranian vaccines are administered to children as the Iranian Health Ministry stopped importing vaccines months ago in order to focus on using domestic vaccines.
Many parents are skeptical about administering the existing vaccines to their children as the results of vaccinations have not been made available to the public.
Currently, the Chinese vaccine has been authorized by the World Health Organization for people above 18 in emergency cases.
“Very Unhealthy” Weather Conditions Lead to School and Office Closures in Tehran
Because of the increase in the density of particles in the air, Tehran’s weather was declared “very unhealthy” and even “dangerous,” leading to the closure of offices, schools and universities on Tuesday. The day before, IQAir, a website that monitors air quality in the world’s big cities, placed Tehran on top of the list of the most polluted cities in the world.
According to Tehran’s Air Quality Control Company, since the beginning of the Iranian year (starting March 21), Tehran has had only two days of clean air for several hours.
Moreover, following the increase in air pollution in different regions of Iran, offices and educational centers in different provinces were closed including in Isfahan, Khuzestan, and Yazd.
Following the announcement of orange conditions in Khuzestan, a health official in the city of Ahwaz said more than 500 people went to hospitals with respiratory and cardiac problems in this city with 62 people admitted in ICUs.
In addition to dust particles, industrial air pollutants due to using mazut and fossil fuels play a significant role in increasing pollution.
Air pollution is one of the main causes of heart attack and stroke. Pollution also affects lung development in children, which increases the risk of asthma.
It is said that the dust particles that have impacted Tehran are from within the country and are because of the strong winds blowing from the deserts in the Qazvin and Alborz provinces.
Experts point to climate change, numerous droughts, the mismanagement of water resources, and the inefficient use of agricultural lands as the main causes of land erosion and dust particles in Iran.
Under these circumstances, allocating the water rights of wetlands and desert greening can decrease dust particles in the country, and if environmental diplomacy comes to fruition and regional countries cooperate with each other, it can have a considerable impact on controlling the centers of dust particles in the region.