IRAN: Khamenei’s speech and Tehran’s endless lists of crises

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On January 30, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, complained about the country’s economic crisis, blaming government officials, directly or indirectly appointed by him, for the country’s rising inflation rate.

Khamenei’s remarks contrasted sharply with his previous claims of “economic resilience”, confirming that the regime’s claim to autonomy is a mirage.

“If government officials had cooperated more over the past few years, we could have achieved more glories,” Khamenei said. But he quickly did an about-face, saying: “Of course, the macroeconomic statistics for the 2010s are relatively unsatisfactory. Statistics and increase of GDP, capital formation, inflation, growth of cash, housing, supply of machinery and similar issues are not satisfactory. The impact on people’s livelihoods that we constantly worry about is rooted in these issues and facts.

Despite the efforts of regime apologists to imply that Iran’s miserable economic crises are due to sanctions, Khamenei acknowledged that “the root cause of these crises is not sanctions. Rash decisions and inaction play a significant role in creating these problems.

State media has acknowledged some facts about Iran’s miserable financial situation and people’s plight. “The Central Bank released indicators of the Iranian economy in the second quarter of the year. The data presented in this report confirms the slowdown in economic growth during this period,” the state-run Jahan-e Sanat said on January 13.

According to Jahan-e Sanat, “a comparison of the liquidity rate over the past few years indicates that the total volume of liquidity increased by 166% from 2018 to the end of September this year”.

“The main reason is that the government has always resorted to the central bank to compensate for its budget deficit. According to statistics, government debt to the central bank has grown steadily throughout the past year, reaching 50.8% at the end of 2021,” the newspaper added.

“Although the Central Bank hasn’t announced inflation statistics since 2019, according to the Center for Inflation Statistics, it still hovers above 40 percent.”

Iran’s unemployment rate is also skyrocketing.

“The unemployment rate is 9.6% in the second quarter of 2021. It has increased by 0.8% since the spring,” adds Jahan-e Sanat.

“Based on the total unemployment rate and inflation this summer, the misery index is 55.4%, an increase of 9.3% and 6.3% compared to last winter and in this spring, respectively,” admitted Jahan-e Sanat.

In other words, millions of Iranians cannot have a decent life and live below the poverty line.

While people can barely earn a living, scheme members and their relatives are enjoying a lavish life. News and photos of the luxurious homes and expensive cars of regime officials are circulating online, along with harrowing videos of Iranian child laborers scavenging for food from garbage cans.

“Embezzlement, corruption, astronomical salaries [of officials]and the construction of luxury towers send their message to society. [Officials’] the display of their luxurious life, the humiliation of the poor and the indirect or direct superiority over others mark people’s souls,” wrote the official Etemad daily on February 1.

“The class divide is raging in the country. A well-to-do class in the highest welfare conditions has such an aristocratic life that it can be compared to Aristotle Onassis and the Rockefeller family. The poor live in difficult situations like the early Muslims did (1,400 years ago),” the official Jomhuri Eslami daily wrote on February 2.

Khamenei is wasting national resources and wealth on terrorism and domestic oppression. As he squanders the people’s property to preserve his regime, he sheds crocodile tears over Iran’s deteriorating economic indicators.

Furthermore, the regime has not taken any serious economic measures to meet the needs of the population. In fact, at the request of Khamenei, the government of Ebrahim Raisi intends to dispense with the official exchange rate allocated to import essential goods at a lower price. Hassan Rouhani’s government first introduced the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials to the dollar in order to import essential goods at a lower price. The private sector, i.e. Private Revolutionary Guard Companies (IRGC), was tasked with importing these goods. As a result, regime officials have embezzled billions of dollars while selling essential items at a higher price. Yet removing this rate will cause costs to skyrocket.

The regime’s parliament rejected Raisi’s plan to scrap the official exchange rate in its budget plan, fearing a popular backlash. But, apparently, Raisi and his government won’t back down to dig deeper into people’s pockets.

Iran’s current economic crises, caused by the regime’s incompetence, corruption and mismanagement, have turned society into a powder keg. Daily demonstrations by people from all walks of life attest to this explosiveness. The recent nationwide protest by teachers, pledging to “continue protests to get” their rights, is quite telling.

Faced with a turbulent society, Khamenei, who is himself responsible for this dire situation, talks about economic crisis as part of his policy of smoke and mirrors to divert people’s attention from the real source of corruption, namely the ruling kleptocracy he leads. Yet popular slogans against the entire regime indicate that Khamenei has failed and more uprisings are looming, as media and officials continue to warn.

“The cry of the army of the unemployed, the failing factories, the frustrated social security and the collapsing banks, is loud and clear,” the public daily Mostaghel wrote on January 31.

“When corruption is institutionalized, serious social upheaval is inevitable,” Mostaghel wrote, quoting Mohammad Askari, one of the regime’s MPs.

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