Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei controls one of the biggest financial empires in the world – an estimated $200 billion – but refuses to use any of that to help the people. This has been true for decades but rang especially cruel during the coronavirus crisis.
One of the biggest victims of Khamenei’s refusal to part with even the smallest amount of his ill-gotten gains is Iranian nurses, who he cried crocodile tears for in an impromptu television interview on Sunday, calling them “angels above patients.”
However, make no mistake. He hasn’t changed his mind about addressing or resolving the problems they face, like a severe shortage of nurses or low pay. He’s instead worried about increasing anti-regime sentiment among the people that could soon see an uprising bigger than that of 2019.
So, he went on live TV without warning to try and strangle the uprising in its cradle, but it didn’t work.
How do we know that Khamenei isn’t truly sorry for the nurses? Well simply because he has the power to immediately lift their troubles.
Mohammad Sharifi-Moghadam, the Secretary-General of Iran’s Nurse House, reported that the country has a severe shortage of nursing staff before the coronavirus outbreak, which we know has been made worse by the 60,000 nurses taken ill with coronavirus and the nearly 100 who died, according to the state-run Hamdeli daily.
Khamenei could immediately hire new nurses from the thousands of nursing school graduates who could not be hired because of a limit on new hires or fly in nursing staff from countries with very low rates of the virus.
Nurses are also forces to live on salaries that are three to four times below the poverty level when Khamenei could easily afford to pay ten times their wages without affecting his bottom line. Nurses also face a lack of job security, which could be addressed with new contracts, but he does none of this.
Khamenei promised 1 billion euros to the health ministry in March, but by September Health Minister Said Namaki admitted that they’ve received only a fraction.
Given all of this, Khamenei has failed in his bid to show support for Iran’s health workers and the people’s anger will not be subdued.
“People are fed up with embezzlements, unemployment, unbridled inflation, disgraceful acts by the authorities’ children, poverty, the massive social gap, and the gradual purge of the middle class,” said Shahriyar Mandani-pour, an Iranian expert close to the government.