These days, the Iranian people suffer from the novel coronavirus, which was transferred to the country aboard airliners of the IRGC-owned Mahan Air company. On the other hand, the Iranian regime’s concealing and mishandling the health crisis contributed to over 41,000 deaths, according to the opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Furthermore, the mullahs have monopolized essential hygienic items such as face masks, sanitizer material, medical gloves, and even medication. This matter has caused public confusion, which is likely to set the stage for protests in the upcoming months.
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Iranian officials plea for a $5-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on one hand, while on the other, they simultaneously boost their oppressive apparatuses instead of health centers. In this respect, IRGC agents’ interference in functions of healthcare facilities and individuals prompted the outrage of selfless doctors, nurses, and medical staff.
Also, citizens witness that the state special units benefit from the best health equipment while the regime has left selfless physicians, who are struggling against the coronavirus in frontlines. On March 23, the supreme leader Ali Khamenei attributed the coronavirus to biological warfare to justify further oppressive steps under the pretext of countering the COVID-19.
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In this context, the regime practiced an exercise to expose security forces’ readiness for the suppressing the coronavirus. However, the military exercise revealed the rulers’ concerns about the social consequences of the deadly virus and their hazardous mismanagement.
In fact, Iranian authorities see the recent health crisis as a security issue. Therefore, they are worried that it triggers a new round of anti-establishment protests like November 2019 and January 2020. In this respect, they have boosted the capacity of security forces and propaganda about their power.
“Good equipment and facilities are provided to this unit. In tandem with increasing threats, this year is an important one for us. [The government] supported the units in infrastructure terms, including completion and improvement of bases, providing educating equipment and facilities, and offering special equipment and required manpower,” Karami said.
Additionally, over the past six months, Iranian citizens took into the streets several times in addition to social protests by workers, nurses, retirees, and other segments of the society. In mid-November, President Hassan Rouhani tried to compensate for his government’s budget deficit at the expense of ordinary people.
Hikes of gasoline prices ignited a new round of protests that immediately engulfed around 200 cities across the country. Security forces and the IRGC targeted protesters with live ammunition, which caused the death of 1,500 demonstrators. On November 17, Khamenei ordered the IRGC to do whatever it takes to end the countrywide uprising. In this respect, oppressive forces employed helicopters and heavy machineguns in several areas against barehanded protesters.
In January, the people poured into the streets once again after the IRGC admitted to downing a Ukrainian airliner and killing all 176 passengers and crew. Outraged people repeated slogans that were chanting during the November protests. “Down with dictator,” “Death to Khamenei and Rouhani,” “The IRGC is our ISIS,” was shouted by protesters. Citizens also demonstrated their hatred against the slain commander of IRGC Quds Force Qassem Soleimani, chanting, “Soleimani was a murderer as is his leader.”
Now, given public ire against the mullahs’ mismanagement toward the coronavirus crisis, economic corruption, and the rising prices of essential supplies like bread and egg, the mullahs predict upcoming protests would be much stronger. Therefore, they strengthen their oppressive power in parallel with arresting social media activists and MEK supporters. However, as Victor Hugo said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”