Iran must be so used to lying by now that it doesn’t even recognize when it lies contradict each other. This has happened on more than one occasion, but the most obvious and recent is the bizarre approach to the US sanctions.
On the one hand, the regime tells its people, in state-run media, that the country has built a “resistance economy”, so it doesn’t need humanitarian aid from the United States in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei even dismissed these offers as making “no sense” because the death rate is lower than most Western nations, they have enough intensive care beds, and the infection rate is going down.
To be clear, his comments are inaccurate, which is something that you can see when you talk to medical professionals and others on the ground in Iran. Not only are the hospitals over-stretched, but they are seeing a second peak after the regime sent people back to work on April 11, following a short, and lax lockdown. The lockdown was implemented far too late because the regime had secretly recorded cases of the virus in late January, but didn’t announce it until late February.
Worse still, the death toll currently stands at over 41,200, according to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). This is the second-highest in the world after just the US, which has 4.5 times the population of Iran.
The regime is deliberately downplaying the crisis because this makes the regime look better, as if they are handling the crisis and as if they as managing to survive just fine under US sanctions. As other countries closed their borders and shut businesses, the regime continued as before, even continuing flights to China on the sanctioned airline Mahan Air throughout February and March. (This helped spread the virus further in Iran and contributed to the spread of the outbreak across the region.)
The regime even wants to reopen the border with Turkey, which is another reason they are downplaying the crisis, banking on the Turkish government believes that an 83-million strong country, hard at work, with less than 100,000 positive coronavirus cases is worth the risk to their citizens. If Turkey does fall for the regime’s lies, then the country could spark a second outbreak in Europe.
Of course, we said that Iran was contradicting itself and we’ve so far only presented how it is lying to the people of Iran and neighbouring governments.
The contradiction actually comes when the regime claims that US sanctions are preventing Iran from recovering from the coronavirus crisis, which is odd because the sanctions have exemptions for humanitarian aid and the regime has publically rejected offers from the US and Doctors Without Borders.
So can Iran triumph despite US sanctions or are they strangling the economy? The regime needs to pick a narrative and stick with it.
Of course, sanctions are not the problem. The regime has hundreds of billions of dollars in domestic assets that could and should be used to help the people of Iran.
But it won’t be and the only answer to the crisis is the overthrow of the regime.