Is the JCPOA Over?
The editorial of Aftab Yazd argues that the revival of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) is no longer on the Iranian government’s agenda, which will have consequences for the Iranian people and the country’s economy.
There are signs indicating that the JCPOA is no longer on the agenda of the 13th government, headed by Ebrahim Raisi. After the negotiations reached a stalemate and all sides said that the talks are not moving forward due to some disagreements, no Iranian official is making any comments regarding the JCPOA.
Even Raisi who had promised to restore the JCPOA in his election campaign, is now talking about making the sanctions ineffective, instead of lifting them, which means the government’s priorities and goals have changed. Thus, it can be concluded that the obstacles are big and insurmountable, and the mediation of Qatar has not yielded positive results.
Between lifting the sanctions and making them ineffective, the latter seems more suitable. But the obvious question is: can the Iranian government really achieve this goal?
Currently, the situation in different Iranian markets is dire, and the Iranian people are contending with inflation, high prices, unemployment, housing, currency devaluation, rising gold prices, etc. On the other hand, a look at international news shows that foreign pressures on Iran have now acquired new dimensions.
In the meantime, the war in Ukraine has directly exacerbated the economic pressures on Iran. Sanctions have forced Russia to join the club of “sellers of oil under sanctions” making this country a serious rival to Tehran. The Russians will not reconcile with other countries over their interests, even if that country is Iran!
We should not forget that while the Kremlin is usurping customers of Iran’s oil, including China, Tehran is not benefitting from the rise in oil prices. If the IAEA’s Board of Governors issues a statement against Iran and in the meantime Russia’s relations with the West get worse, the situation might become more challenging for Iran.
Now, why is the JCPOA no longer part of the government’s agenda? If the government’s plan is to make the sanctions ineffective, it has so far failed, as a look at the market and people’s pockets show.
Mr. President, Which Part of It Do You Want to Fix?
The editorial of Shargh daily states that since the issue of corruption has become systemic in Iran, no changes can be brought about by simply issuing orders, in so far as there is no serious will to enforce them.
After the Metropol Building catastrophe in the city of Abadan which collapsed and killed dozens of people, what was predictable was that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi would issue an order to identify and fix the unsafe buildings. It was so predictable and repetitious that no one is likely to take it seriously. Just as after the collapse of the Plasco Building in Tehran a while ago, such orders were issued and promises were made.
What happens after such incidents is that committees and headquarters are formed, a large budget is allocated, then, after a few days, it will all be forgotten. Everybody knows that after such incidents, nothing will happen: no buildings will become safer; no reforms will be undertaken.
For years, the construction of unsafe buildings like the Metropol Building has continued unabated, despite numerous warnings. So arresting a couple of people is not going to solve the issue. A corrupt system will pay no attention to old and new laws or to officials’ anger if there is no serious will for implementing reforms.
No such will exists. If it existed, we would not see thousands of unsafe buildings in Tehran. If such will existed, no towers would be built on the earthquake fault line in Tehran. In so far as there is corruption in the country’s management and there is no will for making reforms, nothing will change.
A look at the tragedy that took place in Abadan shows that from top to bottom, all officials, from the executive to the supervisory level, had a hand in it.
Raisi too knows that issuing such orders is in vain. Since taking office, he has issued several such orders, but nothing has happened.
Polarizing Society Weakens National Solidarity
The editorial of Mardomsalari slams the government for holding a ceremony in Azadi Stadium in Tehran to cheer and perform an anthem in praise of the supreme leader, thus deliberately disregarding the calamities and afflictions people are dealing with, as well as ignoring the tragedy that took place in Abadan.
Tough sanctions and the government’s untimely decision have resulted in widespread popular dissatisfaction. Following the incidents that have taken place within the country in recent weeks, not only have no efforts been undertaken to heal society, but the state’s propaganda machine is also trying to polarize society which is exacerbating people’s anger.
One such decision was holding a ceremony in Azadi Stadium in Tehran, in which the anthem of “Salute to Commander” was performed. Prior to that, preliminary measures were taken to perform this anthem in the national media, public sphere and schools, but there were no positive reactions to it. When people are in pain and enduring economic hardship, such a measure makes a mockery of people’s suffering, provoking a negative reaction across society.
While there was a lot of propaganda for this ceremony, there was the issue of the collapse of the Metropol Building in the city of Abadan and the deaths of many innocent citizens of this city, which was not properly acknowledged by the state-run media. Insisting on performing this anthem while a tragedy had taken place in Abadan polarized society which will lead to further waves of social crisis.
Polarizing society is one of the governments’ tricks before the elections. During election campaigns, they try to make society pay more attention to political issues, encouraging people to participate in the elections.
But under economic war and continuous crises in Iran, what is the goal of gathering a group of people in a stadium to cheer and perform an anthem when everybody is so angry and upset? This move will have no outcome except for ruining national solidarity. Generally, when society distrusts the government’s policies and decisions, performing such anthems will only make people more resentful.
Under these circumstances, the government has made decisions that humiliate the Iranian people, instead of creating a situation for all citizens and civil society to cooperate and overcome the economic problems.
Consequences of Oil Sanctions on Russia
The editorial of Eghtessad Saramad argues that despite the EU sanctioning Russian oil because of this country’s war against Ukraine, Moscow might be able to keep up its currency revenue.
The West’s policy against Russia can be summed up in this way: maximum confrontation with Russian President Putin to make him step back from his goals in Ukraine. To achieve this, the United States and its European allies have continued their military, economic and political support to Kyiv.
In a last effort to put maximum pressure on Moscow, after a lot of arguments, the EU member countries finally reached an agreement over sanctioning the import of oil from Russia. The head of the EU Commission stated that the EU hopes that before the end of this year, it can cut 90 percent of its oil imports from Russia.
Oil sanctions on Russia, however, cannot be easily ignored. This is because on the one hand, the EU is in dire need of this source of energy, and on the other hand, the Kremlin needs the currency revenue obtained in this field, which means that oil sanctions will definitely have a significant impact on the East-West relationship.
Although many hold that this is an important measure to paralyze Putin’s war machine, there is no guarantee that it will come to fruition. From the very beginning of the war, the Russians who were fully aware of the comprehensive nature of their confrontation with the West are trying to sell their energy in other ways by replacing the European market with the Chinese market.
On the other hand, the Kremlin is trying to attract oil buyers by giving steep discounts. These discounts are enticing for buyers and can render all sanctions against Russia ineffective. In the meantime, due to the shortage in supply, the price of the dollar is above $100 per barrel, which makes it possible for Moscow to keep the level of its currency revenue high, despite the decrease in exports.
Reza Pahlavi: The Iranian Nation Represents the Opposition, Alternative to the ‘Islamic Republic’
Reza Pahlavi, on the eve of the death anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Iranian republic, stated that this political system “will be gone” just as “Soviet Russia, with thousands of nuclear warheads, collapsed.”
The former crown prince of Iran highlighted the continuing suppression of popular protests by the government’s security forces, urging that protesters within Iran “with empty hands” are facing “the enemy” who is “perpetrating crimes and corruption in Tehran.”
He also called for prioritizing a mechanism for coordinating protests and strikes in Iran.
In a press conference that followed his live televised speech, Reza Pahlavi responded to questions of media reporters overseas.
Pahlavi enumerated the crackdowns on street protests, the downing of the Ukrainian flight by the IRGC’s missiles, deaths due to coronavirus following the ban on vaccine imports by Ali Khamenei, and the collapse of the Metropol Building in Abadan and the Plasco Building in Tehran, while stressing that the country’s incompetence, corruption and inability have put the lives of the Iranian people in danger.
He emphasized that the continuation of this political system means the recurrence of the same catastrophes, stating that the “bullets and missiles of the Islamic Republic are pointing at all Iranians.”
Considering the Iranian nation as the best alternative and opposition to the political system, Reza Pahlavi urged that “people’s intelligent slogans show that they have identified the problem, as well as its solution.”
In another part of his speech, Pahlavi addressed Iran’s security and military forces, underscoring that their duty is to “defend the lives of people, not oppressing, arresting, or slaughtering them.
He called for exposing the methods of crackdowns and the names of the oppressors, and asserted that this is the last ultimatum to the oppressors, asking them to join the people.
Addressing Iranians living abroad, Reza Pahlavi asked them to release and share images and videos of the protests within Iran to reflect the voices of protesters on social media and to raise awareness about the country’s dire situation.
Khamenei Reacts to Popular Protests: Enemies Hope Popular Protests Damage the Country
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in a ceremony commemorating the death anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini, addressed current issues like the popular protests.
Khamenei stated that the United States and Western countries “wrongfully” think that “they can put the people against the Islamic establishment; this calculation is because treasonous Iranian advisors are giving them incorrect advice.”
He also compared the 1979 revolution to the revolutions in Russia and France, stating that “in France after the revolution, the very family against whom the revolution had taken place returned to power because people were not present on the scene.
The day before Khamenei’s speech, Reza Pahlavi, in a talk that was widely televised on Persian-speaking networks overseas, had declared that the Iranian political system “will be gone,” just as “Soviet Russia, with thousands of nuclear warheads, collapsed.”
Khamenei added that the “enemies” entertain the hope that the popular protests will damage the country, urging that the “enemy’s calculation is wrong.”
In this speech, Khamenei referred to the 1979 revolution in Iran in detail, claiming that Iranian citizens have “certainly more” affinity with the religion and the revolution compared with the early days of the revolution.
Rejecting any popular dissatisfaction and disagreement with the incumbent political system, Khamenei pointed to the Iranian people’s disagreement with the revolution and religion as reflected on the internet and in the media, alleging that this is “100% wrong.”
The Iranian supreme leader stated that “the enemies, with activities on the internet and cyberspace and by paying mercenaries, try to put the people against the establishment of the Islamic Republic.”
These remarks were made while growing public dissatisfaction has created one of the most serious crises in the country, with any simple incident triggering people’s anger and turning into protests, assemblies, and strikes. During the popular protests, slogans are directed toward Khamenei himself, his performance, and his ideology. Furthermore, official polls indicate that the public in Iran have no interest in religious rituals and Islamic precepts like fasting and wearing compulsory hijab.
Khamenei, nevertheless, preferred to overlook the social issues, problems and ground realities in Iran. Instead, he tried to reassure his supporters that no danger threatens the political system, and if there are any protests, these are instigated by the “enemies.”
In recent years, widespread popular protests in Iran have become more common, and particularly in recent months, there have been large gatherings and protests almost every day.
In all these assemblies and protests, people have chanted slogans against the deteriorating economic conditions, mismanagement, and corruption among officials.
All these assemblies and protests start with a limited, specific goal but immediately become widespread and political. They target the Iranian political system as a whole, including Ali Khamenei, with people chanting “Death to Khamenei!” and “Our enemy is here; they lie that it is America!”
Two Workers Commit Suicide in Less Than a Week
Two workers reportedly committed suicide in different cities in Iran in less than a week.
According to HRANA, a worker who was married and the father of three children, committed suicide by self-immolation in the city of Yasuj because he was unable to pay back his 10 million toman debt.
Earlier, ILNA had reported a worker’s suicide by hanging himself in his workplace close to the city of Karaj. No motive for his suicide has been announced yet.
In recent years, there have been many reports of suicides among workers due to livelihood issues, including two bakery workers in Fars Province who recently committed suicide by taking rice tablets.
Because of soaring inflation and high prices in recent years, particularly over recent months, Iranian households have been under a lot of pressure.
The government recently increased the price of flour by 10 times, cooking oil by four times, and milk by two times.
The sudden increase in the price of bread and other basic goods triggered protests in different cities of Iran last month. These protests faced brutal crackdowns by security and law-enforcement forces. According to unofficial reports, at least five individuals were killed in these protests.
Increase in Age of Marriage in Iran
The Parliament’s Research Center issued a report identifying the reasons for the increase in the age of marriage, making suggestions for bringing it down.
According to this report which focuses on the policy of promoting marriage in Iran, currently Iranian youths have problems in meeting their own basic needs, so they show no interest in starting families.
Livelihood issues, according to the report, including the high cost of living, the cost of housing, unemployment, as well as not finding the right person for marriage, are identified as the main causes of the increase in the marriage age. To decrease the age of marriage, the report proposes increasing the availability of jobs that “do not require higher education.”
Despite widespread propaganda like “easy marriage” and passing legislation for having more children and increasing the population, the Parliament’s report, based on Iran’s Statistical Center, revealed that the rate of marriage has declined and the average age of marriage has increased.
In recent days, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has described increasing the population as a “vital policy” for Iran’s future, and following this, the Iranian health minister announced the formation of a committee for increasing the young population in all ministries.
Allocating incentives for employees to get married and have children, as well distributing “cultural packages” for families is a part of the government’s policy.
Since 2013 when Khamenei talked of increasing the population up to 150 million people, the government has changed its policies in alignment with his words, and, in addition to the ratification of legislation in this regard, the government has been promoting having children through educational curricula, the media, and the propaganda billboards all over Iran’s cities.
Nevertheless, in recent years, economic problems, the high cost of housing, and the level of unemployment have increased and the rate of marriage and having children in Iran has declined.
Earlier reports show that more than 45 percent of marriages fail in Iran, while the number of marriages has dropped by 36 percent.