Many Iranian cities have suffered a large power blackout over the past few days, with extensive and unannounced power outages that have disrupted factory production, hospital treatment, telecommunications, and people’s lives in general.
On Monday, the state-run media wrote about how the power outages have been destructive across the country. The Hamdeli daily said that the outages are “a new challenge” that puts Iranians’ “lives in jeopardy”, as well as “threaten[ing] the lives of patients”, while the Farhikhtegan daily said that these outages were a common occurrence despite the Iranian public’s dependence on electricity for work, school, and staying alive. The state-run Jahan-e Sanat quoted Khomeini Hospital’s Head of Infectious Diseases Department Dr Hamid Emadi as saying that Covid-19 patients are being endangered by the lack of an oxygen machine.
Alireza Vahabzadeh, an advisor to the Health Minister, said: “Did you know that with a power outage, Covid-19 patients who depend on an oxygen generator at home are unable to breathe? During a power outage, if the hospital emergency power does not turn the oxygen generators on, do you know what will happen to the Covid-19 patients?”
So we know why the power outages are dangerous, but why are they happening? Well, some state-run media outlets are reporting that it’s down to bitcoin mining by Chinese actors, which the Deputy Energy Minister admits is happening all across Iran in property owned by the Basij and Revolutionary Guards, and this uses as much energy as a city (2000 megawatts of electricity a day).
The Arman daily wrote: “There have been several statements about the cause of the power outage, which have increased the people’s complaints about this. However, the authorities do not confirm it. But some believe that one of the reasons for this is that some groups are trying to extract bitcoins during the sanctions period.”
It’s not just the bitcoin mining, which doesn’t even keep the money in the country, but also the export of electricity to other countries in the region. The Arman explained that the regime is exporting electricity to Iraq and Afghanistan, supplying 40% of Iraq’s electricity. Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said in summer 2020 that these exports to Afghanistan would increase.
While the Jahan-e Sanat daily explained that the people cannot control their feelings much longer and if the situation gets much worse, not just with relation to the power cuts, but the pandemic and the economy.
The Iranian Resistance wrote: “The power outage in Iran is having a devastating effect on people’s lives. But the mullahs’ regime only intends to plunder Iran’s wealth for funding its illicit activities. The regime’s corruption and illicit activities have turned society into a powder keg. Iranian people’s ongoing calls for boycotting the regime’s sham presidential election show they consider regime change the only solution to Iran’s problems.”