The early days of the Covid-19 pandemic were in many ways the most terrible time in contemporary history. Millions of people lost their lives, and as many have said before, the world would never be the same. This saying is absolutely true for Iran and its theocratic rulers.
According to the Iranian opposition, over half a million people have died due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a crisis worsened by the regime’s policies.
From covering up to minimizing the crisis to calling the deadly coronavirus a “test” and “blessing,” and banning the credible vaccines in January 2020, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his regime did their best to use Covid-19 to leash Iran’s volatile society.
“While the fifth wave of Covid-19 ravaged Iranians, leaving mass casualties, the Ministry of Health and its officials, which continue holding top positions in two consecutive governments, delayed importing vaccines to the country,” the state-run Hamdeli daily wrote on March 14.
“Although it was possible to purchase foreign vaccines from the U.S. and Britain through the World Health Organization’s COVAX system, [the regime had prioritized purchasing and importing Chinese vaccines and then allocating large sums of money for domestic production of vaccines,” the paper added.
Khamenei banned the vaccines while insisting on “domestic production” of vaccines, which was under the supervision of the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), a large financial institution under Khamenei’s control. In a nutshell, Khamenei not only deprived people of their right to life by prohibiting WHO sanctioned vaccines, but he also plundered the money that could have saved millions of people.
This trend continues to date.
While, according to Iranian health experts, the country is on the verge of experiencing the seventh wave of Covid-19, the regime tries to portray the situation as being normal.
“To keep pace with other countries, not lose the momentum of increasing international trips, and free itself from public opinion’s pressure, the government claims the number of patients has decreased, and we have passed the sixth peak,” the state-run Hamdeli daily wrote on March 9.
“Meanwhile, we are hearing sounds of sneezing and coughing in public places, universities, and public transports. Sadly, the health ministry inexplicably tries to portray the situation as being normal,” the paper added.
Hamdeli acknowledged that the regime “has proven that it has no intention of curing the poor. Therefore, while the Minister of Health claims that Omicron is under control and considers the control of coronavirus as a sign of the real strength of the country’s health structure, sick students, workers, employees, and other working groups with Covid symptoms are present in society due to educational and occupational requirements. Thus, they send the disease.”
Now, Covid-19 and its profound social and economic scars have only increased society’s restiveness, compelling the tightly controlled state media to acknowledge this fact.
“Officials have used ‘tsunami’ and ‘flood’ keywords to warn about the alarming rise of social harm, and that the situation is red,” the state-run Resalat daily wrote on March 10, underlining that “the coronavirus consequences would continue even when the virus itself has been contained.”
“Therefore, predicting the consequences of this disease, especially in the field of crime and social harm, is a fundamental and urgent issue,” Resalat added, referring to protests and recent uprisings as “social harm,” and “crime.”
“The increasing trend of crimes and social harms and possibly the emergence of new phenomena cause social concerns in promoting violent behaviors in society, reducing social security, and disrupting social order that ultimately results in erosion of social capital,” the paper added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has added to Iran’s economic crunch, worsening people’s financial woes that were already tough due to the regime’s corruption, ineptitude, and mismanagement.
“The misery index reached 55.4% this summer, which is unprecedented in the last decade. The misery index, along with the inflation and unemployment rates, is an essential indicator in any country’s economy to assess the living standards of society,” the paper acknowledged.
According to Resalat, which is affiliated with Khamenei’s faction, “Roozbeh Kordoni, director of the Higher Institute for Social Security Research, has warned that we must wait for the widespread social and economic effects of coronavirus in the short term! Evidence shows that the lack of effective policies for socioeconomic consequences has an aggravating effect on the social implications of coronavirus.”
Kardoni tells Resalat that “According to the National Statistics Center, the inflation rate for the rural households in the 12 months leading up to October has reached49.6%. This figure in 2018 was 20.6%. This is while 31.8% of the population are below the absolute poverty line in urban areas 54% in rural areas.”
The heart-wrenching videos of Iranians, primarily children, searching trash to find something to eat are testaments to Iran’s terrible economic situation under the mullahs’ regime.
“According to official statistics, 14,613 children under 18 have lost their guardians due to coronavirus. Also, 68,360 women have become heads of households due to the death of their husbands because of coronavirus. These families are among the bottom three economic deciles. 32% of new female-headed households do not have any support or insurance coverage,” the state-run Vatan-e Emrooz daily wrote in this regard on March 13.
When Covid-19 came to Iran, people were stunned by this deadly virus, and the regime managed to control the explosive society for a while by letting the disease spread. But gradually, protests by people from all walks of life erupted, intensifying in the last few months, demonstrating society’s volatility.
Now, regime officials and state media warn each other of people’s reactions during the “post-Covid” situation.
“The most important challenge that the government is facing today is people’s financial woes that are increasing daily. Economic challenges ultimately lead to more social harm,” the state-run Arman-e Meli daily warned officials on March 13. “We now have over 60 million people who need support to continue their lives and about 30 million who are living below the absolute poverty line. Besides, we have about four million unemployed young people. Of course, other issues such as freedom of expression and freedom of thought are also lead to an increase in the current social dissatisfaction,” the paper added.
The regime, particularly Khamenei, sowed the wind and will have to reap the whirlwind.