by Hassan Mahmoudi
Drowning in a miscellany of crises, the Iranian regime and its administration under Rouhani is clutching at straws as a tool of survival.
On August 9, 2020, one could hear Rouhani crying ‘Eureka! Eureka!’ at a session of the administration’s headquarter for Economic Coordination. And what precisely was this brilliant discovery; his administration planned to pre-sell 220 million barrels of oil to the ordinary people and the private sector for $42 a barrel and then return the money to them in two years’ time with 19% interest! Wow!
With such a decision Rouhani is trying to confront the drastic reduction in the government’s exchange reserve and its huge budget deficit.
But it seems that any proposed solution for this broken regime ends in nothing but failure and more schism at the top; and as the saying goes, ‘when the land dries hard the bulls gore each other’.
On August 9, Rouhani, praising this plan, added: “In the meeting of the High Economic Coordination Council of the head of three powers, this plan was laid out by the administration’s Economic Headquarter. Everybody welcomed it and the final decision was made.”
But facing Rouhani at the Majlis (parliament) on Sunday, August 16, MP Abutorabi said: “The head of the Judiciary and the executive branch have expressed their opposition to the administration’s decision to sell oil barrels in the bourse in a letter to Khamenei…This administration takes the money from the people but it is the next government that must pay it back.”
As usual, this solution backfired too. Since the end of the last week, Tehran’s bourse general index dropped heavily (4.71%).
“The bourse in Iran is now painted red. After months of increase, it has not only stopped but dropped,” wrote Ebtekar state-run daily on August 16.
Netzer’s combined tweets using a bourse hashtag and trended it, reacting to the cunning plan of Rouhani. They tweeted such sentiments as: “Don’t trust the Islamic Republic; don’t give your money to the thief,” or “The Islamic Republic cannot even sell oil for $10 a barrel, now blatantly it wants to sell each for $42 to the people…Don’t be deceived by these charlatans.”
The people’s outrage deepened the disputes at the top of the regime even further. “With a loud voice I announce: the people of Iran know that the Majlis has no detailed information regarding this decision; be careful!” said Delkhosh, another MP, on August 16.
Of course, it is not that these MPs, or any regime authority, cares a bit for the populace, as everybody has witnessed in the 41-year rule of this regime, but they are afraid that this might ignite another uprising, just as the surge in the price of gasoline did in November 2019.
Rouhani, admitting to the fact that there is no solution left for this regime, said on August 12: “Those who say that the administration has made a wrong decision, please tell us what the solution is…”
Thus, the Iran regime is stuck in a dead-end and there is truly no light at the end of the tunnel for it.
On the one hand, it is facing a crippled economy, exacerbated by two major strike actions, of the oil, gas, and the petrochemical industry and the Haft-Tapeh Sugarcane Industrial complex, on top of all the other protests. On the other hand, even if it is successful in providing for itself once again from the pocket of the people, then, as warned by its state-run news agencies and dailies it “will face a blast far stronger than Beirut’s”.
Hassan Mahmoudi is a Europe-based social analyst, researcher, independent observer, and commentator of Middle Eastern and Iranian Politics. He tweets under @hassan_mahmou1.