These days, Iran has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus outbreak and there has not been a day without warnings and concerns over the beginning of a third Covid-19 wave. Deputy Health Minister Iraq Harirchi has described the situation as a “stormy ocean” with enormous ebbs and flows.
Iranian authorities are also going the distance in their attempts to hide the actual scope of the catastrophe in order to conceal the consequences of their mismanagement. As many health professionals are acknowledging, the real number of coronavirus victims is roughly 20 times that of the Health Ministry’s stats.
“The current Covid-19 numbers are 20 times what is being announced by the Health Ministry,” the state-run Vatan-e Emruz daily quoted Dr. Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar, a member of the National Covid-19 Task Force as saying on April 28.
In such circumstances and while Iranian authorities constantly argue over economic dilemmas, the government continues to allocate a massive budget to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) despite the fact no country needs two parallel armies around the world. However, the Iranian government bears the IRGC’s skyrocketing expenditures rather than using them to improve people’s lives and contain the health crisis.
Despite months passing by, the Iranian government has yet to pay the meager paychecks of thousands of physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers. On April 6, Iranian media outlets reported that the supreme leader Ali Khamenei has agreed to withdraw €1 billion from the National Development Fund to support the Health Ministry’s efforts in countering the coronavirus.
However, Health Minister Saeed Namaki has said time and again that his institution has received a mere 30 percent of these funds. “It has been months that we have only received a small portion of the one billion euros… I don’t know what is more important. I have remained silent for people to not get angry. However, my ill colleagues are asking me what happened to that one billion euros?” Namaki said in an interview with the state-run Hamshahri daily on September 24.
These facts obviously show the imperative of removing surplus expenditure-making projects, missions, and institutions. In this respect, on August 16, Iranian Resistance leader Massoud Rajavi for the first time called for the IRGC to be dissolved.
“If the ruling theocracy does not seek to engage in suppression, warmongering, and terrorism, one military would suffice. It should not burden the suffering and deprived people of Iran with the auxiliary costs of the IRGC,” Mr. Rajavi reckoned.
If the ruling theocracy does not seek to engage in suppression, warmongering, and terrorism, one military would suffice. It should not burden the suffering and deprived people of Iran with the auxiliary costs of the IRGC.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) August 16, 2020
This call has received warm welcomes inside Iran and abroad. Many supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) widely spread this demand throughout the country. The PMOI/MEK internal network, known as ‘Resistance Units,’ are also installing this message on the walls of different cities across Iran.
Iranian netizens also trended #DisbandIRGC on social media platforms. Furthermore, in their joint call, over 100 European and Arab lawmakers announced their support for dissolving the IRGC.
“We support the call by the Iranian Resistance that the country does not need two armies. The IRGC must be dissolved and the money allocated to the IRGC and its destructive programs must be spent to improve people’s lives,” the lawmakers wrote in their call.
In response to this initiative, IRGC commanders have hastily participated in televised programs in an attempt aimed at justifying the IRGC’s existence. On September 21, IRGC senior spokesperson Abolfazl Shearchi attended a talk show on state-run TV Channel Five. Televised programs over the imperative of the IRGC’s existence explicitly show that Mr. Rajavi’s call has found its way into Iran’s society despite the authorities’ media censorship.
On the other hand, Shekarchi was compelled to refer the issue to ideological beliefs deterring further questions about the IRGC’s destructive role inside the country and abroad.
“Defending the ideologic frontiers of the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution is not only the duty of all institutions, organs, and even the army but the ‘natural mission’ of the IRGC,” he answered in a question about the overlap between the work of the IRGC and the army.
In fact, he highlighted the necessity of warmongering and exporting terrorism for the Iranian government as a means to preserve the ayatollahs’ rule. This is while people frequently express their rage against the meddling of the government and IRGC in other countries’ affairs.
Earlier, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, former MP from Kermanshah and chair of the Majlis (Parliament) Security and Foreign Affairs Commission, acknowledged that Iran has granted $20-30 billion to Syria. “When I went to Syria, some complained that I had caused harm. Yet I will say this again: We may have given $20-30 billion to Syria. The money of this nation was spent there,” he said in an interview with Etemad Online website.
In May 2020, the former chairman of Majlis Security and Foreign Affairs Commission Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh admitted that the Iranian regime has granted $20-30 billion to Syria alone.
Ms. @statedeptspox, that's not the whole story!
Follow the thread👇pic.twitter.com/mE11FsEiSc https://t.co/G4ufhazdK1
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) September 23, 2020
“Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life is for Iran” and “Let off Syria and think about us” are among the slogans repeatedly chanted by fed-up citizens, rejecting the government “ideological frontiers” and condemning spending national resources on supporting dictators and extremist proxies in these countries.
Furthermore, Shekarchi shed light on the government’s main concern and the foremost threat to its survival. “The IRGC has an internal mission, too. We must confront the MEK,” Shekarchi said.
Of course, it would be unexpected for Iranian authorities to succumb to calls for dissolving the IRGC. However, they have made unmistaken remarks that the IRGC is the main implement of suppression and terrorism. The ayatollahs and their IRGC commanders are making it crystal clear that their priority is sowing the seeds of hate and disparity abroad rather than saving the people’s lives.
This message will not remain unanswered from hundreds of thousands of people who have made their voices heard: “You are our ISIS,” “IRGC and Basij members, you are our enemy,” and “[Qassem] Soleimani was a murderer, as his leader [Ali Khamenei] is so.”