Mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak creates Iran's worst nightmare
It may still be too soon to say for sure the coronavirus pandemic could totally change industrial production and the social relations that have been dominant and unchanged up until this time, but the information trend seems to be pointing in this direction. In the three months since COVID-19 erupted into the history of mankind, we have partially realized, in this new, harsh reality, that wealth and the superiority of technology do not save lives, but that solidarity, collective participation, reliance on sustainable community and environmental standards, and rules for health and safety do! In short, this is what a healthy society needs! This coronavirus outbreak has proved that ignoring these rules has irreparable consequences for all of humanity. "The new coronavirus attacks the foundation of communities, at the expense of people's lives and livelihoods," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Wednesday, April 1.
"COVID-19 is the biggest test we have faced since the formation of the United Nations," he added.
The best example to prove this claim is Iran's catastrophic performance. According to international news agencies' reports, "Iran is the center of export of death in the region and the world as a whole." Iran's example clearly demonstrates to everyone how distrust, inequality, looting, dictatorship, and the export of terrorism leave the field wide open for the spread of the coronavirus.
After a month and a half, on Monday, March 30, Hassan Rouhani finally confessed in a video conference call with specialist doctors around the country that "with a little delay, we found out this disease had entered the country since late January." Rahman Fazli, the Iranian interior minister, had said on February 1, "We have no case of Coronavirus in Iran at this moment."
And Rouhani's health minister, Namaki, had claimed as recently as March 25 that he had received the first news of coronavirus infection in Qom on February 18.
Regime officials did not say why they had not discussed the matter with the people and why they had not taken the necessary measures. The main reason later put forward by some regime officials was that Khamenei, the supreme leader, did not want to disrupt the rally planned for February 11, the anniversary of the fall of the monarchy, or the pre-planned election scandal on February 21. They preferred letting the election go ahead to taking measures to stop the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country. They deliberately allowed this deadly virus to spread throughout the country. Although they have now had to admit to a small portion of reality, they are still fearful of revealing the full truth and facing the force of the people's anger. Instead, they have deployed the IRGC cyber-division, mercenaries of the Quds Force, and the Ministry of Intelligence inside and outside the country to devalue and discredit the statistics and documents disclosed by the Iranian resistance. The regime is trying to minimize internal and international reflection and the impact of the documents disclosed.
Despite all their efforts, the Iranian regime has now become the target of public outrage. Linked uprisings throughout the country and ten prison uprisings over the past ten days have been a sign of the people's willingness to rebel against the ruling regime and a sign of the regime's ineffectiveness in dealing with popular protests. As a result, on March 26, the IRGC held a meeting of commanders to officially announce the existence of its ten division bases and their names. These ten division bases together with the Sar-Allah base, considered the most important center during any period of civil unrest, constitute a national network to command and direct the activities of the IRGC. These bases are formally designed to lead and direct an asymmetric war against an external threat, but their undisclosed goal is to counter domestic threats, such as protests and popular uprisings against the Islamic Republic. The popular uprisings during November 2019 and again in January 2020, after the strategic blow to the regime caused by the death of Qassem Soleimani, along with the regime's handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the collapse of all confidence in the system, have become highly significant threats to the survival of the regime.
The purpose of this announcement by the IRGC and the formation of its headquarters was to demonstrate the group's power by the establishment of a system of repression and a network of command to counter the fear of protests and popular uprisings. Khamenei turned to conspiracy theories by the U.S. and biological warfare in order to have a pretext to show off these forces. Khamenei announced that IRGC troops would be prepared to fight biological warfare as an excuse to put them on the streets, ready to suppress protests and uprisings.
One cannot help but feel that everything those running the regime are doing is in a desperate attempt to escape from the nightmare situation they themselves have created so they can again stamp their authority on and regain control in Iran, the region, and the world. In the rapidly changing global situation since the arrival of the coronavirus, they may that find this an extremely uphill task.
Hassan Mahmoudi, social analyst, researcher, is an independent observer and commentator of Middle Eastern and Iranian affairs.