Goebbels believed when a government suffers from economic corruption and misery and fails to meet the basic needs of its people, it faces a wave of public outrage and the country moves toward revolution and the fall of the government.
“In such a circumstance, the government must divert the public’s attention to a slight but major issue… The government must create an enemy for the nation whether foreign or domestic enemies,” Goebbels said.
He also considered that the government should make an imaginary enemy if it cannot make a real one. In this context, authoritarian regimes such as the German Nazi always talk about conspiracies and pretend they are involved in a critical war.
They are always involved in military or propaganda battles against their strong neighbors, major powers, or international organizations. They love to make crises and see crises as a guarantee for their survival. In fact, the key to the success of weak governments in war and crisis.
They believe that people forget their financial, professional, personal, and livelihood misery in wars and crises. Therefore, dictators find an opportunity to crack down on domestic critics by exploiting the people’s sympathies.
The Best Opportunity to Suppress Critics
After the downfall of Iran’s Shah dictatorship in 1979, the mullahs under the leadership of Ruhollah Khomeini managed to seize the power. They established theocratic fascism instead of a democratic government that citizens hoped to achieve when they flooded into the streets.
The new rulers were principally unable to respond to society’s essential needs. In reality, Khomeini loved to the only rule like ancient sultans without providing the needs of the people who had sacrificed their lives and lost loved ones for freedom, justice, equality, and prosperous life.
In this context and based on his fictional ideas, he started his expansionism by provoking the Iraqi people and army to revolt against the then-Iraqi government. This issue pushed Iran and Iraq in a war that lasted for eight years with millions of deaths, injures, captives, missing people, and thousands of ruined and destroyed towns and counties on both sides.
However, Khomeini also took advantage of the war to suppress dissenting voices at home. At the time, Khomeini’s regime executed tens of thousands of political prisoners and dissidents as well as strangled all protests to socioeconomic grievances under the pretext of “being at war.”
This method, of course, continued after the end of the eight-year war and the death of Khomeini. Khomeini’s successor Ali Khamenei and his allies tirelessly created foes in all these years. They even resorted to imaginary foes. For instance, he openly tied the coronavirus crisis with the foreigners and justified his regime’s incompetence and failures with conspiracy theories.
“There are enemies from djinns and humans, and they help each other. Intelligence services of many countries cooperate against us. Second, you are in charge of producing this virus. I don’t know how much this accusation is true. It is said that a part of the virus has specially produced for Iran by using the acquaintances with the Iranian genetic,” said the Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei addressing the U.S. on March 22.
Following Khamenei’s claims, the regime described the activities of the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders as dangerous and immediately expelled them from Iran despite previous accord about creating a field-hospital in Isfahan province.
In this context, the mullahs see the coronavirus as the best means for diverting public opinion from the major socioeconomic crises in the country, which they neither will nor be able to resolve. Therefore, they in opposite to known preemptive measures like quarantining hotspots and closing crowed sites, and more importantly transparency, are leading the society to a massive humanitarian crisis.
Additionally, they still refuse to announce the actual number of coronavirus victims. Iran’s Health Ministry claimed as of May 24, 7,417 people have died of the COVID-19 disease. On the same day, the opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) stated, “Over 44,000 people have died of the novel coronavirus in 320 cities checkered across all of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to reports tallied by the group.”