Recently, the Iranian regime, led by Ebrahim Raisi, has been claiming that the people are benefitting from an export boom despite facing sanctions.

They boast of increased oil exports even without the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in effect, asserting Iran’s re-entry into the global oil market.

According to Raisi, the regime’s exports have surged by 30-40 percent in 2022, reaching a staggering $53 billion. However, let’s critically analyze this purported 40 percent increase.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has tightened its grip on various industries and the export of their products by forming industrial and commercial holdings. The regime’s statistics indicate that most exports are related to petrochemical and oil-based products.

At present, the oil and petrochemical sectors are controlled by the IRGC and economic institutions affiliated with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s regime.

Consequently, during the national strike of oil and petrochemical industry workers, they were warned that their strike primarily targets the regime since the contracting companies belong to Revolutionary Guards’ commanders or their representatives.

To circumvent sanctions, the regime established the International Petrochemical Trading Company, claiming that its revenues would be channeled back into the country.

However, in practice, most of these revenues have not been returned to Iran, instead, they have been used for repression and terrorism.

For instance, in 2018, the regime’s media reported that $30 billion earned through petrochemical product sales was not repatriated to the country’s foreign exchange reserves. This pattern extends to other industries as well.

The mining industry ranks second in the regime’s exports after petrochemicals, and most of the country’s mines are under the control of Khamenei’s economic institutions and IRGC cooperatives. The regime’s strategy here is to sell raw mineral resources at cheap prices to countries like China.

Steel is another primary export product of the regime, with Mobarakeh Steel and Khuzestan Steel being the leading production companies currently part of the IRGC Cooperative Foundation organization.

These companies exploit resources, including people’s water and electricity, while paying wages below the poverty line, and then exporting steel without returning the profits to the country.

A representative of the regime’s parliament highlighted the issue of steel industry income theft, raising questions about how the foreign currency earned through steel exports was utilized within the country.

To sustain its repression and terrorism apparatus, the regime auctions off the country’s national assets to fund its export activities.

The export of agricultural and dairy products by the IRGC and its elements ranks fourth among the regime’s exports, generating over $3.5 billion in income. However, this comes at the cost of hunger and malnutrition among the Iranian people.

The high prices of agricultural and dairy products have led to a significant decrease in their per capita consumption in the country.

During harvests, the regime’s leaders ban exports, resulting in a sharp drop in prices, forcing farmers to sell their products at very low prices.

The IRGC takes advantage of this situation by purchasing agricultural products from farmers during harvest and then exporting them at lower prices, earning significant foreign exchange earnings.

For instance, exported apples were sold for as low as 34 cents, despite the high-quality product, while the market price in Iran is at least 55,000 tomans (around $1.22) per kilo.

This means that Iranians have to pay more than three times the export price for a kilo of apples, illustrating how the regime exploits the country’s resources for its benefit.

By following such policies, the regime aims to finance repression at home and terrorism abroad by cheaply selling the country’s wealth overseas. As a result, the cost of living has surged, and malnutrition has become widespread in the country.

The regime’s desperate attempts to maintain its rule through theft and repression have led to over 10 million Iranians falling below the poverty line in less than a decade.

Despite Iran holding significant global reserves, the country ranks among the top six most inflationary nations, and the depletion of strategic reserves indicates that the regime’s overthrow is imminent.

The regime’s efforts to sustain itself through exploitative practices will ultimately expedite its downfall.