Nearly a year ago, Ebrahim Raisi took office as the Iranian regime’s president. He was already infamous among Iranians due to his record as a leading member of the “Death Commission,” responsible for sending thousands of political prisoners to the gallows in 1988.
Following his inauguration, he made numerous promises to revive the country’s moribund economy in order to whitewash his notorious background. “Liar Raisi, what happened to your promises,” is one of the slogans currently chanted by citizens in their rallies, showing their fury over Raisi’s failure to deliver his promises.
Via His “Economic Surgery,” Raisi Broke the Poverty and Inflation Record in the Past Six Decades
“Breaking the record of poverty and inflation is one of the most important achievements of the Raisi cabinet in the past year,” activists taunt the President. “This government is a record-holder in many aspects like the number of executions and prisoners, the unprecedented pace of devastating the environment, and other catastrophic events.”
The deepening of the gap between the wealthy and low-income classes of society is one of the most apparent impacts of Raisi’s one-year presidency. Raisi loyalists were touting him as the “lord of impoverished people.” He constantly criticized his predecessors for ruining the country’s financial system, vowing to remove poverty, manage the inflation rate, and improve the economy.
“Building one million residential units in a year” and “removing absolute poverty in a span of 10 days” were among Raisi’s outlandish promises. Instead, a day hasn’t gone by without the regime destroying shelters of underprivileged citizens and increasing the prices of food staples. As a result, socio-economic protests by people from different walks of life for their most essential rights have become widespread.
Removing the Subsidized Foreign Currency, One of the Main Reasons for Rampant Poverty
For decades, the mullahs have funded waging terrorism, advancing the range of their ballistic missiles, fueling regional conflicts, and, most importantly, building nuclear weapons at the expense of the Iranian people. Nevertheless, these expenditures have soared under Raisi while the 2021-2022 budget bill was submitted to the Majlis [Parliament] with one-third of the deficit!
The regime’s primary instrument to offset this massive deficit was to increase taxes. Under the pretext of the ‘Economic Surgery’ plan, Raisi’s government removed the subsidized foreign currency, forcing the collapse of many small businesses and lowering the poverty line by at least 30 percent.
On June 22, the official news agency, IRNA, quoted Raisi as saying, “The continuation of subsidized foreign currency causes corruption and fraud because a small group of people enjoyed this currency. Now, the government intends to deliver its foreign currency privileges to all the people, and the poor in particular.”
He further claimed that the government would increase the price of several foodstuffs—including wheat and bread, egg, chicken, and cooking oil, “But it would provide compensation through Yaraneh [subsidies].”
This is all while the value of the national currency rial has plummeted in recent months, shrinking people’s purchasing power. In 2010, Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began depositing monetary aid worth $15 to citizens’ accounts. Due to the government’s destructive policies, the value of Yaraneh is equivalent to $1.50 today.
According to the Quality-of-Life Index 2021 by Numbeo, citizens in the Iranian capital have the lowest purchasing power in the world after Lagos, Nigeria.
Barely a couple of months into the ‘Economic Surgery’ plan, people have begun to feel additional pressure on their flesh and blood. The tip of the iceberg is the increase in the value of the dollar and other foreign currencies, as well as the rise in housing and rental costs, foodstuffs, medicine cost, and public services.
These price hikes have left major psychological effects on society, with dramatic increases in suicide attempts, the abandoning of newborn babies in garbage bins, and vast waves of migration and brain drain in Iran. On the other hand, the frequency of social protests has significantly increased despite Raisi’s notorious background in human rights abuses. In such circumstances, the unelected ruling system has tried to quell any grievance with lethal force. But, if history is a judge, not only are the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards’ cruelty and suppression futile, but they further fuel public hatred and anti-establishment demonstrations.