A new wave of infighting inside the Iranian regime was triggered after former MP Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh spoke about the $20-30 billion that the regime reportedly spent to support dictator Bashar Assad in the civil war in Syria.
Falahatpisheh, who formerly chaired the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission, told the state-run Etemad Online: “We may have given $20-30 billion to Syria. The money of this nation was spent there.”
Now, this is not a new and surprising revelation. The regime has been sending weapons, fighters, and money to support Assad in Syria since the fighting started in 2011, with the Iranian Resistance estimating the true figure spent on the war by the mullahs to be up to $100 billion. What is new and surprising is that regime officials are admitting it, something that amounts to taking aim at supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
The infighting it sparked shows the deep divisions at the top of the regime, which decry the strong and stable narrative that the regime wants to project.
One of the most notable reactions came from Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of the Keyhan daily, which is known to reflect the views of Khamenei.
Shariatmadari wrote: “While Mr Falahatpisheh was a member of the National Security Commission, these kinds of non-expert comments coming from him are no surprise. But his recent remarks can hardly be attributed to his ‘lack of knowledge’ and ‘commoner’ perspective.”
He then accused Falahatpisheh of getting his figures from the US or Iranian Resistance – although, again, his figure was less than that of either of those groups – before threatening the man.
Falahatpisheh further spoke with Etemad Online about the increase in gas prices, which caused mass protests across Iran in November.
He said: “How many economic problems do we have in the country? The increase in gasoline prices generates 2 trillion rials per day. This is the average revenue generated by the increase in gasoline prices and selling the surplus to other countries. We can distribute this 2 trillion rial to the provinces to solve their problems. This is just part of the revenue.”
In this, he revealed why Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani increased gas prices despite opposition in the parliament and why they ordered security forces to kill 1,500 people to quell the protests.
A spokesperson for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) said: “These 2 trillion rials are the regime’s income from the blood of the children of the people of Iran in the November protests. The regime and its criminals must be punished for this crime.”