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Iran's Regime May See a Grim Opportunity in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

When I was a young student, I was astonished by the Iranian regime’s insistence on going to war against Iraq. That war killed over a million Iranians, injured another 2 million, and cost the country over a trillion dollars. Former Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said in a speech that we would continue to fight Iraq until the last brick of the last house remained in Tehran. This still rings in my ears.

At first, I thought the reason was Khomeini’s personal old grudge against Iraqi leaders from the time he was exiled there. In that war, children were used for clearing minefields at the forefront of war while the “Shiite living Imam was riding a white horse, giving them the key to heaven for free.”

Based on the regime’s statements, at least 36,000 children were killed in war fronts. For Khomeini, accepting the ceasefire was more bitter than drinking a chalice of poison. It was then that I realized to some extent why the regime needed the war so much. It became even clearer years after the war ended when the regime placed the bones that were recovered from battlefields in coffins, to be displayed in public places and universities.

The execution of some 30,000 political prisoners in the Summer of 1988 was yet another incident that was impossible to comprehend. This massacre, comparable to some of the Auschwitz killings, took place immediately after Ayatollah Khomeini accepted the ceasefire. Stunned by this reaction, some people thought the reason for the massacre was the attack carried out by the regime’s armed opposition, which was based along the borders at the time.

After that, the regime started to attack everything and everyone like a beast. But, delving a little further, we find that the law for that massacre was issued by Khomeini before the attack; proving the fact that it was pre-planned. Most of those involved in this mass murder currently hold high positions within the regime.

Now that student has become a mature man and has come across another strange phenomenon. Why is the Iranian regime not taking any serious measures to fight the coronavirus? Why did it cancel the semi-imposed quarantine that it implemented for a few days? Why did the president, with the backing of the supreme leader, suddenly order everyone to go back to work, which will lead to a sudden rise in the spread of the disease?

This is while the Iranian Society for Immunology and Allergy published an open letter warning President Hassan Rouhani against this herd immunity approach, saying it will cause the spread of the COVID-19 in two-thirds of the population and will put 2 million at risk of death. Following Rouhani’s order, the supreme leader said that the history of mankind has witnessed on a number of occasions mass deaths of this kind and this is not unprecedented. This chilling remark was indeed aimed to prepare the public to accept a high number of deaths, that are on the way, as a normal thing to happen.

It appears to me that every time the regime finds itself in a deadlock, it sees a mass killing of its own people as the only way out. This is the governing rule of this regime. Nowadays, the regime is caught in a fatal impasse. Successive uprisings from 2017 until January 2020 shook the ground beneath the regime’s feet. In the November protests, it opened fire against unarmed young people killing 1,500, which severely undermined its standing both domestically and internationally.

Then, coronavirus came. If the regime had any intention of defending the people it would have imposed quarantine, as well as providing for the livelihood of more than 30 million daily-based contracted workers and their families. The regime is not inclined to perform any of these actions and is willing to keep the money only for itself.

If it imposes quarantine, the hungry masses will revolt against the regime. Therefore, to evade the inevitable fate, the only way out remains yet another mass murder. If people suffered from hunger under quarantine, the regime would be held accountable, but in the “herd immunity” approach, people’s death is not its responsibility; the virus is being blamed.

The Iranian regime is trying to avoid being overthrown and blames the international community for this mass killing, implying that this is a result of sanctions imposed on the country. The regime’s assets are estimated at around $200 billion, a fortune that belongs to the citizens but which the supreme leader uses to maintain his grip to power.

Will this regime be able to break through the impasse using another mass murder just like it did in the past? The world order is rapidly changing, and it is highly unlikely that this medieval regime can impose itself on the new order.

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