People’s Economic Health
The editorial of Aftab Yazd maintains that the Iranian government must create economic opportunities for people so that they can be more productive and play a significant role in society, instead of turning to futile jobs like becoming street vendors.
Societies rely on productive forces. Under the current circumstances, the level of investment goes down in Iranian society day by day, while people are becoming more and more hopeless. A significant factor in individuals’ healthy relations with society is preserving their economic health. There are different dimensions to the issue of health, and economic health is one of them.
When a society is economically healthy, individuals can be productive and play a role in the process of production. It is in this process that individuals should play their roles in society to earn a living. There must be opportunities in society for people so that they can avail of them to meet their own economic needs.
But in Iranian society, no such opportunities are provided for people. Today, in Iranian society, people turn to futile jobs instead of turning to productive ones. That is why there is a rise in the number of street vendors in Iran.
Under these circumstances, some people are forced to commit petty thefts and other crimes to provide for their own economic needs. The worst of it is that people have no hope for seizing opportunities to play their own roles in society.
This causes extensive damage because people’s incomes are not proportionate with their expenses. People’s incomes must be consistent with their expenses, and it is the government’s duty to fill the gap in people’s incomes and expenses. On the other hand, the government must provide different opportunities so that individuals can take them and play their roles in society and the process of production.
The most important issue is that of being satisfied with life – an issue that is the focal point in the world but is ignored in Iranian society.
Efforts to Revive the JCPOA
The editorial of Arman Melli asserts that Iran is trying to resume talks for reviving the nuclear deal [JCPOA] with the global powers.
When Iranian foreign minister went to Oman to discuss the nuclear talks, it was seen by different media outlets as indicative of the fact that both sides are after resuming talks regarding the JCPOA. But there are different variables involved in this issue making it difficult to say whether both sides are after reviving the JCPOA or not.
Although some positions taken by the Europeans and occasionally by the Americans have prompted several experts to talk of the JCPOA being over, it seems that the Iranian government has an agenda for trying to preserve the JCPOA, given the fact that the JCPOA can still be used for certain actions needed to resolve the challenges and problems which exist between Iran and the West.
So, in Iranian foreign minister’s trip to Oman, the issue of reviving the JCPOA must have been discussed. What is important to note is the fact that policies openly announced by both the Americans and Europeans regarding the JCPOA would not allow them to immediately follow the issue of reviving the JCPOA and perhaps, behind closed doors that is what they are discussing with Tehran. But Tehran is trying to show they are willing to revive the JCPOA.
Whether this willingness will be effective or not is not clear yet. Some observers maintain that Iran can make new suggestions in this regard, thus changing the game to its own advantage and showing to the world that it still believes in constructive talks and engagement with the world.
These days, Iran has shown that it is very enthusiastic to talk about reviving the JCPOA, while trying to invite others to the negotiating table. It will take time to see if these efforts will come to fruition or not.
Official and Unofficial Images of Iran
The editorial of Jahan Sanat questions the images of a successful Iran as presented by state-run television, comparing it with North Korea where the reality is far from what is presented by the official media.
In the image of Iran as presented on Iran’s state-run television (IRIB), everything is okay and under control: the stock market has grown, law enforcement forces have arrested dealers illegally trading currencies confiscating $100,000 and have regulated the currency market, Iranian scientists and experts invent new things every day, Iran’s natural gas is not cut off, the US city of Buffalo has become uninhabitable because of the recent heavy snow and subzero temperatures and American citizens have no hope for improvement in their conditions, Europeans are struggling with the energy crisis, British citizens have to choose between having food or energy which is why some of them have been forced to give up one meal a day to keep their houses warm.
This is the image presented by IRIB and Iranian officials and their supporters about what is happening in Iran and on the international scene. As such, Iranians must necessarily thank God for living under the Iranian government because if, God forbid, a government like that of Germany, Switzerland or Norway rules over Iran, it would be unclear what would have happened to Iranian citizens!
What is more, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in a recent cabinet meeting, recommended that his supporters and media must give hopeful, promising news to citizens and avoid making people frustrated and concerned. Raisi has repeatedly urged that any measure that would make people lose hope or cause concern it is to the advantage of the enemy.
However, all the grand ayatollahs in the city of Qom who recently met with Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf criticized the current economic conditions and the way society is governed.
Under these circumstances, can anyone talk about the problems that exist in Iran? Can anyone criticize Raisi’s policies and strategies and his cabinet? Making any criticism means taking some risks. This is pretty much like North Korea: they say that were it not for their leader, they would have been destroyed by their “enemies,” but in actuality the country’s citizens risk their lives to go to South Korea.
Migration of Iranian Farmers
The editorial of Mamlekat explores why Iranian farmers are increasingly migrating to countries like Australia and Canada.
Given what has happened in the world in the past three years, the importance of food security and agriculture has been clearly demonstrated. The crisis of the increase in food prices after coronavirus and the wheat crisis with the Russian invasion of Ukraine once again highlighted the strategic importance of agricultural products. So, skilled human resources in this field can play a determining role for countries.
In this regard, after what has been going on in Iran, and after waves of migration from the country, now farmers who are migrating to other countries like Australia and Canada – several countries are facing a shortage of skilled farmers. So, to compensate for this shortcoming, they have allocated a type of agriculture visa and Iranian farmers have been applying for it for some time. This will have irreparable consequences for the country.
To receive an agriculture visa, having expertise in this field is not enough. Rather, the applicants must have adequate financial resources to rent land and launch a business for themselves so that host countries can allow them to migrate to there. So, Iranian farmers sell their lands and properties and transfer their capital to countries like Australia and Canada.
These farmers who at times do not have financial resources for migrating to Australia even go to a country like Iraq and take their capital with them. It has been a while that skilled Iranian saffron farmers have started migrating to Australia after selling their properties.
Skilled individuals tend to work in places where there is stability and appropriate conditions for working. In the agricultural sector, Iran has been facing a shortage of water, drought, land subsidence, and erosion of fertile soil. As a result, Iranian farmers have lost their motivation to work in Iran.
The ground must be prepared so people can have hope for the future; otherwise, the wave of migration and capital flight from the country will intensify, incurring more damage on the country. The government, like other countries, must support farmers by giving them inexpensive fertilizers and pesticides.
Security Confrontation With Urmia University Students
More than 100 days after the eruption of nationwide protests in Iran, Shargh Daily has reported on the issue of security confrontation with Urmia University students, saying that about 50 students have been banned from entering the university.
The first protest of Urmia University students took place two weeks after the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022, and students gathered in front of the university cafeteria, without taking any measures that could be considered as “subversive” against the Iranian government. But the security forces’ reaction to this peaceful gathering involved nothing but threats against students and putting restrictions on them.
After these peaceful gatherings, security forces contacted students and their families, making threats against them. As a result, no protests were held for several weeks. Then another protest was held by students on October 29, 2022, but they were strongly confronted by security forces.
In Shargh’s report, a series of security confrontations with Urmia University students have been mentioned including making phone calls to threaten students, summoning them to a disciplinary committee, launching disciplinary cases against them, and banning students from entering the university.
According to Shargh, about 50 Urmia University students have been banned from entering the university. Students have been charged with “agitation and riot” which is punishable by being banned from studying for up to three semesters.
These students have not only been banned from entering the university but have also lost their access to the university cafeteria, dormitory, library, and other facilities.
Urmia University officials, according to Shargh Daily, have stressed that they had nothing to do with these disciplinary measures, urging that non-academic entities ordered them to take these measures.
Since the beginning of the recent nationwide protests, students have been one of the main targets of security forces and hundreds of student activists have been arrested in different cities. HRANA news agency, in its latest report, has already identified 687 arrested students.
IRGC Official Lambasts “Elites’ Silence” and “Their Abandonment of the Islamic Revolution”
Gholam Hossein Gheybparvar, the IRGC deputy commander in Imam Ali base, has criticized “some elites’ silence” regarding the popular protests in Iran which he called a “hybrid warfare.”
Speaking at a ceremony marking the third anniversary of Qassem Soleimani’s death, Gheybparvar pointed out, “today we are in a war which is no less than the war with ISIS,” referring to the popular protests over the last three months.
Criticizing “some elites who have kept silent” and “abandoned the Islamic Revolution,” he noted, “we should not have any hesitation under such conditions.”
This senior commander also stated that what is happening today is not “just women taking off their hijabs… our religion is under attack.”
Gheybparvar’s remarks came after some confidential bulletins from the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency were hacked, revealing that Ali Khamenei in a meeting with the Expediency Council member Gholam Ali Haddad Adel had complained about the elites’ silence.
Before Gheybparvar, another IRGC top official had referred to a rift between Khamenei and senior officials. Hamid Abazari, an advisor to the IRGC commander-in-chief, remarked in a video clip that some senior clerics have neither said anything nor showed any reaction to the recent events in the country.
Abazari also shed light on the division between Iranian military commanders on suppressing the popular protests, “I saw with my own eyes how some great commanders came short…and stood against [our] values, they stood against their ‘Agha’ [Khamenei], they stood against the establishment.”
Extensive Filtering of Internet; Five Major Operators on Verge of Bankruptcy
With the continuation of the heavy filtering of the internet in Iran, major operators and big companies – whose main sources of revenue are based on access to the internet – have made huge losses. Meanwhile, these companies’ complaints to government bodies have been ignored, and they say that the continuation of extensive filtering has driven them to the verge of bankruptcy.
The companies are Shuttle, Mobinnet, Rightel, Irancell, and Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran, and they have lost billions of tomans in just the first month of the nationwide protests in Iran which started in September.
While roughly 60 percent to 70 percent of operators’ revenues is from selling mobile internet, heavy filtering imposed by the government has resulted in a steep drop in sales of internet packages, pushing operators to the verge of bankruptcy.
With the new round of nationwide protests starting after the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the so-called morality police, Iranian officials have considerably increased restrictions on telecommunications and the internet, adding Instagram and WhatsApp to the list of blocked applications in Iran.
Expert studies presented to the Biden administration show how shutting down the internet or imposing severe restrictions on it has turned it into a tool in the hands of the Iranian government for cracking down on protesters.
These studies show that the Iranian government has not only blocked online messenger services and social media, but has also blocked users’ access to stores where they can purchase and download different software.
Since the beginning of the nationwide protests, the Iranian government has tried to force the Iranian people to use domestic applications and messengers which will make it easier to control and monitor users – an attempt which has not come to fruition so far.
However, since major cellphone and internet operators are affiliated with the Iranian government’s entities, it has been easier for them to suffer losses so far.
Annual Labor Ministry Report: Poverty Line Doubled in a Year
In its annual report on the poverty line released on Sunday, the Iranian Labor Ministry announced a significant rise in the number of poor and the increase in the poverty line in Iran, saying that from 2020 to 2021, one third of the entire population of Iran were dragged below the poverty line.
According to the report, the poverty line in 2021 witnessed 50 percent growth compared to 2020, reaching 1,682,000 tomans per capita per month, while the poverty line for a family of four was 4,541,000 tomans and was 7.4 million tomans for those living in Tehran last year.
According to ILNA news agency, these numbers for the poverty line and the rate of poverty referred to 2021, with the poverty line for 2022-2023 being 2.85 million tomans per capita and 7.7 million for a family of four. This number is 15 million tomans for those living in Tehran.
The Labor Ministry report shows that from 2011 to 2021, the number of those below the absolute poverty line has doubled, with one third of the population under the absolute poverty line now.
In addition, the average calorie intake has dropped from 2,700 kcal in 2011 to under 2,200 kcal last year, because of households’ inability to provide food for themselves. In the past months and years, there have been reports of people’s tables shrinking, with a drop in the consumption of meat, dairy, and other essential food items.
Unbridled annual inflation in Iran in the past years has been officially announced between 30 percent to 40 percent, while food inflation has been much higher.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the inflation rate in Iran will be 40 percent this year – the highest in the world after Venezuela, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Turkey, and Argentina.
The IMF’s prediction about the inflation rate in Iran goes back to October last year, while Iran’s currency has lost at least 22 percent of its value against the dollar since then.