ECONOMIC MELTDOWN IN IRAN
Iran, despite its rich, civilised and open culture, has now become an international pariah, its religious fascist regime condemned for human rights abuse and the export of terror, while its 80 million beleaguered citizens, over half of whom are under thirty, struggle to feed their families against a background of power outages, water shortages and food prices that have risen by more than 50%. Since the second tranche of US sanctions affecting oil and banking came into effect on 5thNovember 2018, Iran is now producing 1m fewer barrels of oil a day. It has cost the Iranian economy $2 billion since last November. But the mullahs continue to fund terrorism.
Iran’s descent into economic chaos can be traced directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. Their policy of aggressive military expansionism across the Middle East has seen them consistently pour men and resources into Bashar al-Assad’s murderous civil war, the genocidal campaign against the Sunni population of neighbouring Iraq, their support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen and their vast funding for the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. They currently pay $750m p.a. to Hezbollah in Lebanon alone. This is clearly no longer sustainable.
Combined with the mullah’s predilection for corruptly lining their own pockets, it is little surprise that the country with the world’s second largest gas reserves and fourth largest crude oil reserves is now facing economic meltdown and nationwide protests. Millions of Iranians have taken to the streets every day for more than a year now, protesting about the venal corruption of the ruling mullahs and their wanton spending on conflict and terror.
In a blind panic, the mullahs’ regime has used their Gestapo, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards corps (IRGC) to crack down mercilessly on the protesters and strikers, murdering dozens and arresting over twelve thousand. In an attempt to show that they are fighting corruption and to distract public attention from their own venality, they have staged a number of show trials of prominent businessmen, labelled as ‘sultans’. So far, several of these so-called ‘sultans’ have been executed for alleged corruption, including Vahid Mazlumin, known as the Sultan of Coins and Hamid Darmani, known as the Sultan of Bitumen. A further 31 merchants, including two physicians, have been charged with corruption and systematic smuggling.
Iran’s monetary and financial institutions are in the hands of the regime’s leaders. On 28t Feb 1979, immediately following the revolution, the regime established the Foundation of the Underprivileged. 28 private banks and industries covering steel, aluminium and vehicles were all confiscated by the State, together with the properties of all of the biggest businessmen, who were the backbone of the Iranian economy. All were nationalised and handed over to the Foundation of the Underprivileged, which was wholly controlled by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomenei. In 2013, this foundation was valued at $95 bn. All foundations like this get their funding directly from the government. They don’t pay tax and they have no accountability on how they spend their money. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) also has a tight grip on these foundations. Iran has used the construction companies under the control of these foundations to spread the Islamic revolution in countries across the Middle East. These IRGC construction companies also run missile factories.
The IRGC’s stranglehold on the Iranian economy has been disastrous. There are currently 75,000 unfinished construction projects in Iran. Money is allocated annually, but never spent on these projects. The regime owes 25 trillion rials to contractors ($150 bn). So, the government has been held hostage by the IRGC for years because of these escalating debts. The resulting devastation of Iran’s production capabilities has been massive. 38 cotton companies closed down last year. 1,000 factory units building fridges, TVs and producing textiles have also closed down. Mass unemployment has been the inevitable result. There are 1.2 million more unemployed people in Iran every year, mostly young people. The regime’s own statistics say the average monthly wage of a worker today is only enough to last for one week. People are now selling their organs, kidneys and bone marrow to try to avoid starvation. 20,000 people are sleeping rough in Tehran alone, of which 5,000 are women.
The IMF said that in 2018 Iran had 1.5% negative growth. They predict 3.6% negative growth in 2019 and a decrease of $97bn in GDP. So, the regimes system of velayat-e-faqih, the guardianship of the Islamic jurist, offers no solution to the economic crisis. The whole Iranian economy is focused on the military requirements of the IRGC. Iranian society is now facing chaos. The capacity of the regime to reform the economy is no longer there. Instead, the mullahs turn their attention to demonizing the main democratic opposition movement, the Peoples’ Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) to hide the reality of their economic mismanagement. That is why the protesters on the streets of every town and city in Iran can be heard shouting “Death to this deceiving government.”