The Iranian regime’s leaders have been begging for sanctions relief since their first public acknowledgment of a domestic coronavirus outbreak. They have made every effort to portray that outbreak as having been made worse by the economic pressure imposed by the United States. But the mullahs’ appeals are predictably self-serving. The sanctions explicitly target the theocratic regime, not the Iranian people. Furthermore, the regime has ample resources with which it could help the people to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and alleviate its economic impact.
Why hasn’t mullahs’ regime done so yet? For the same reason, it is obsessively exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to argue for sanctions relief. It is not that the mullahs need foreign revenue and unfrozen assets in order to provide hospitals with medical equipment or send financial relief to jobless Iranians. It is just that they need that additional wealth to avoid utilizing resources that they have already earmarked for other purposes.
The regime has proven this to be true on multiple occasions since the crisis began. If the regime officials had wanted money specifically for the sick and dying, they could have had it. The US-made explicit offers of medical aid last month. But the regime rejected it rather than allow it to weaken their argument for the necessity of sanctions relief.
The regime also rebuffed the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders when it offered to build a field hospital and provide medical staff that would allow it to treat 50 patients at a time. These moves suggest that the regime is not content to just avoid using its own money to address the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, it wants to reclaim frozen assets and resume foreign trade in order to have more money with which to do as it pleases, in the absence of meaningful oversight. In other words, as sanctions on the regime has seriously damaged its warmongering machine, the regime desperately needs money to preserve its regime.
Is it possible that some of that money would be used on coronavirus treatments and economic stimulus? Sure. But it is just as likely that it will be directed toward the regime’s terrorist proxies, missile development, repression of dissent, and a host of other malign activities. In fact, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ recent launch of a military satellite gives the distinct impression that expenditures on those activities are continuing unabated even as the people suffer widespread illness on top of crushing poverty.
The space launch marked the completion of a longstanding goal for the regime. At least three attempts at reaching low Earth orbit have failed over the past two years. The most recent was in February. The differences between that failed launch and the recent, highly doubted “successful one” include the launch sites and the types of rockets involved. The IRGC evidently completed the development of a new two-stage rocket and set up a new launch site while the coronavirus outbreak was already in full swing.
It remains to be seen how much money went into those efforts, but it is already well-known that the IRGC has huge sums to draw upon, and that its share of Iran’s national budget has increased during the pandemic. Regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has put the paramilitary in charge of the coronavirus response, effectively sidelining the Health Ministry. The increased funding is supposedly intended for use on things like medical infrastructure projects. But in practice, the IRGC has taken advantage of the opportunity to consolidate its control over Iranian society.
The European Union’s head of foreign policy declared “regret” on Wednesday for American opposition to Iran’s bid for a five-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund. “From the humanitarian point of view,” he said, “this request should have been accepted.” But of course, from a humanitarian point of view, the American offer of direct medical aid should have been accepted, as well.
In this regard, in an interview with the state-run ILNA news agency, a regime’s economist Farshad Momeni, while reacting to the regime’s demand of a $5 billion loan from the IMF, warned that due to the vast corrupting within the regime and lack of a clear economic plan in the country, demanding a loan from a foreign party will be “A tool to expand and deepen corruption, incapability and unjustifiable economic backwardness and inequality.”
By overlooking Iran’s persistently malign behaviors, the regime’s foreign defenders are also neglecting its culpability for a coronavirus outbreak that is badly out of control. No doubt guided by an impulse to delay public appeals for a change of budget priorities, the regime avoided acting to contain Covid-19 for at least a month. During that time, regime’s officials urged Iranians to assemble in crowds, first to celebrate the anniversary of the 1979 revolution and then to participate in sham elections for the parliament.
As a result, the Covid-19 death toll in Iran is arguably the worst in the world. While the regime’s official statements indicate that there have been a little over 5,000 fatal cases, sources like the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran place the figure at more than 35,000.
Even in the best-case scenario, wherein the regime spends a significant portion of unfrozen assets on coronavirus relief, the outcome for the Iranian people will surely remain all but unchanged. Regime’s incompetence alone would be reason enough to impose strict conditions on any relief that is granted during the pandemic. But the regime is not only incompetent; it is also malicious. Therefore, any decision to grant financing to that regime during the pandemic would be certain to come back and bite western countries, as well as the Iranian people.
As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said: “There are no obstacles or prohibitions for the purchase and import of medicines and medical equipment for the clerical regime, but rather than lives of the people of Iran, they are only concerned about their own pockets suffering from sanctions.”
There are no obstacles or prohibitions for the purchase and import of medicines and medical equipment for the clerical regime, but rather than lives of the people of #Iran, they are only concerned about their own pockets suffering from sanctions. #COVID19https://t.co/JWfzQcPRxv
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) March 31, 2020
Source » ncr-iran