Iranian regime is facing a difficult year
This year is likely to be one of the most difficult ever for the post-revolutionary Iranian regime.
A critical challenge for the government in 2022 is the economy. The Iranian regime is experiencing the worst economic conditions during its four decades of rule and is estimated to run a monthly deficit of $ 1 billion.
The regimeâs top politicians have warned of the state of the economy. For example, parliament speaker Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf, who ran for president last year, surprisingly told members of the Majlis Research Center that the Islamic Republic was bankrupt. “Iran’s economy is bankrupt and the government is not doing anything about it … Unfortunately, we live from day to day, and I say this based on studies I’ve done,” he said, according to the state-run ISNA news agency.
Ghalibaf added, “If our economy is bankrupt, it is because of nationalization, not sanctions.” But the reality is that Iran’s crumbling economy is the result of fundamental factors ingrained in the regime’s political and financial institutions: corruption in the theocratic establishment and across the political spectrum, economic mismanagement, embezzlement and money laundering in the banking system, and the bleeding of the nation’s wealth on militias, terrorist groups and proxies across the region. Because of this, the economic problems will persist regardless of power.
The government-controlled newspaper Jahan-e Sanat admitted last month: âWe have failed to make it clear to the state that, as long as the roots of the crisis remain unresolved, its branches, whatever faction is in power, will not be corrected. The main problem is therefore the inability of civil institutions to speak to the rulers and to influence them effectively. “
This is not to say that nationalization is not a key factor in Iran’s economic plight. The main problem is that the regime’s nationalization efforts have created a monopoly in many areas. For example, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with their loyalists, enjoy a monopoly in almost every industry. The IRGC controls more than half of Iran’s gross domestic product and owns several major economic powers and religious foundations such as Astan Quds Razavi in ââthe northeastern city of Mashhad.
In addition to the poor economic situation, the social and political oppression of the regime is contributing to the anger of the people
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
As a result, the Iranian regime’s economic health will most likely continue to deteriorate in 2022, as common people and small businesses have fewer opportunities to thrive and grow financially when a few entities monopolize, control and rule the economy.
To make matters worse, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has elected many members of the IRGC and relatives of Khamenei to his cabinet. Even Jahan-e Sanat criticized the president: âOne issue that worries people very much is the expansion of monopolies in our country’s economy, which is evident in the Raisi government. In other words, instead of making our economic environment more competitive, we are witnessing the rise of monopolies, which has made economic players very concerned about their future. “
Another critical challenge the regime will face in 2022 is the unprecedented level of frustration, dissatisfaction and anger many of the Iranian people feel towards the regime. This high level of discontent could prepare the ground for a major nationwide uprising.
Life has become unbearable for the common people in Iran. Unemployment and inflation are at or near record highs and the cost of living has skyrocketed. The state newspaper Eghtesad-e Pouya warned last month: âAccording to the latest World Bank statistics, Iran has been one of the countries with the highest unemployment in the past 10 years. Over the past decade, the average global unemployment rate has been around 5.5 percent, and unemployment in Iran is said to be about twice the global average. “
In addition to the poor economic situation, the social and political oppression of the regime contributes to the discontent and anger of the people. And the human rights abuses, arrests, torture, executions, detentions and suppression of freedom of speech and expression are likely to escalate under Raisi’s tough government.
In summary, the central problems facing the Iranian regime in 2022 are the crumbling economy and popular anger at the government, which could spark a nationwide uprising and threaten the seizure of power by the ruling clergy.
â¢ Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-trained Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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