The Iranian Blame Game
As the dweller’s guide reported a few weeks back…
With American sanctions about to bite and the value of the Iranian rial having fallen 80% since January, while food prices have doubled, it’s no surprise that Iranians are looking for someone to blame.
So, who is blaming who?
Naturally, Iranians still blame the USA, but not with quite the same conviction as usual. Iran’s foreign policy adventures in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen are increasingly seen as luxuries the country cannot afford while its own people struggle – and these are clearly home grown, not problems created by the USA.
Naturally, they blame President Hassan Rouhani – after all, it is surely his administration that has overseen this collapse. But most know in their hearts that he is not the real problem. What is being revealed here is the core of a catastrophic deception that has been played out in Iran since 1979 – the deception that the ‘government’ is, in any meaningful way, ‘The Government.’
Naturally, Ayatollah Khamenei, aware that some poisoned arrows are flying his way, blames President Rouhani for ‘a huge mistake in management’ and failing to get a ‘good deal’ from the Americans. This would be rather like the UK Prime Minister (who has executive power) blaming the Queen (who does not) for failing to negotiate a good Brexit deal. It’s a shameful distortion and should be treated with contempt.
Naturally, Rouhani himself blames a “US plot” against the Islamic Republic:
“I want to assure the Iranian nation that we will not allow the US plot against the Islamic Republic to succeed,” he said in a televised speech on Tuesday.
But, since the people blame him, he has also started blaming the people: saying a sweep of anti-government protests which started in December “tempted” Mr Trump to ditch the nuclear deal, exacerbating the crisis.
Naturally, Parliament and politicians blame Rouhani and each other. Firstly, they removed the head of the Central Bank in July, then the Labour Minister, Ali Rabiei earlier this month, and now, most dramatically, the economic and finance minister Masoud Karbasian. Following the great tradition of free speech in Iran, parliament found a new way of enforcing a ‘gagging order’ as they voted to remove him by a vote of 137 to 121:
Just this: #where_is_your_kid? There is a new popular term in Iran, ‘aghazadeh’ – literally ‘the rich kid’ and in particular the children of government officials who benefit from nepotism.
While the people struggle, it turns out (quelle surprise!) that the children of the regime’s politicians are being promoted to top state jobs with luxury lifestyles and big salaries even though they have better connections than qualifications or experience. The extravagant wedding of Mohsen Moradian and Anashid Hosseini (son of an Iranian ambassador and an Iranian model) may have been entirely funded by themselves but has done little to reassure the people.
Here’s an idea. In Uruguay in 2013, the then president Mujica famously stayed in his own tiny house rather than moving into the official presidential mansion and gave away 90% of his salary. Well, we couldn’t expect Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei to do that – his socialism and spirituality surely wouldn’t go that far! But what he could do, is follow the example of some other Iranian politicians and tell everyone clearly what his personal wealth is now, compared to when he took office and how, if at all, any members of his own household have benefitted under his leadership.
Is that too much to ask? Well, yes, probably. Because, a six-month investigation by Reuters has said that Khamenei controls a “financial empire” worth approximately US$95 billion that is not overseen by the Iranian Parliament, a figure much larger than the estimated wealth of the late Shah of Iran.