Iran confronts growing criticism of gov’t at home

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It appears that Rouhani is facing criticism due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in addition to poverty in regions around Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani casts his vote at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Tehran, Iran February 21, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani casts his vote at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Tehran, Iran February 21, 2020

(photo credit: REUTERS)

Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei slams insults directed at President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday. The comments appear to shed light on growing anger and rifts in Iran. While the specifics of the insults were not mentioned, the regime said that criticism of the president was acceptable but that insults were not.

It appears that Rouhani is facing criticism due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in addition to poverty in regions around Iran. Iran is also under tough US sanctions and its promises that Iran’s regime could get around the US sanctions have not materialized. Iran has also faced criticism internally from various men who may want to run for president. This means that some have sought to emphasize poverty in Khuzestan and Bolochistan regions, as well as concerns over whether Iran would give China special trade rights on several islands in return for a trade agreement.

Iran’s government says that it faced shortages of supplies to fight COVID-19, comparing the situation to a war. “at the end of his speech, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution emphasized the miraculous importance of prayer, supplication and asking for forgiveness to ward off calamity and added: Supplication also attracted the opinion of God’s grace, which has always helped us cross this gorge,” Fars news says. The leader said he understood the needs of those in poverty and those facing deprivation. Clearly a large amount of anger is boiling under the surface in Iran for it to be made public in such a manner.  The regime often brags of its new weapon systems, including missiles, radar and drones, but it is building the weapons on a foundation of poverty.

Iran’s leader says that the country must deal with the economy using the best management to pass this difficult time. This means persuading public opinion that the country is on the right track. It appears the regime’s attempts to distract from economic failure at home is not working. Boasting in English about new air defenses, or slamming France for “insulting the prophet,” has not influenced the people at home.

Speaker of Parliament, and former IRGC air force commander Mohammed Bahger Ghalibaf has been touring Khuzestan, Balochistan and other provinces. Critics say he may be positioning himself to run for president or to take a greater leadership role. However his staff say he is merely gathering information. Fars News reports that the “purpose of these monitoring visits was to obtain accurate data and information from the decision-makers of the Islamic Consultative Assembly in order to solve the country’s problems and address the demands of the people, and to legislate and monitor properly, and to solve the people’s problems by implementing and monitoring the implementation of laws.” Trips are followed by reports to Tehran.

However, his trips show that all is not well in Iran. The provinces and regions in the periphery and borders are restive. While full details are not available, the fact that there is so much criticism for Rouhani and that Ghalibaf is undertaking personal investigations, reveals something is afoot. There will be Presidential elections in June 2021. All of the controversies could be linked to that. However US pressure on Iran appears to be having its affects of forcing the regime to deal with internal problems.

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