Within days of requesting $5 billion from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF), Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei turned down and mocked America’s offer to send medical assistance to fight the spiraling coronavirus crisis.
At present, restricted information coming from the Iranian government places the coronavirus death toll at 2,234. Meanwhile, the government’s primary political opposition organization, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), is reporting the number of deaths in Iran as having passed 11,500. It was the MeK which exposed the Iranian government’s covert nuclear weapons program. This organization’s ability to extract accurate intelligence out of Iran is always impressive. Furthermore, the 11,500 number is supported by satellite images which reveal extensive expansions of multiple cemeteries throughout Iran.
In the city of Qom, 60-70 people are dying every day. Being unable to keep up with the burials, clerics asked Tehran officials to accept some of the bodies for interment. The request was denied as Tehran cemeteries are also overwhelmed.
Iran continues to cover-up the fact that it has replaced China as the epicenter of coronavirus. In early February, Tehran started downplaying the growing medical threat. The ruling fundamentalists did not want interruptions to two interconnected activities: on February 11th the government conducted country-wide anniversary celebrations of the 1979 fall of the monarchy; these celebrations were preludes to local legislative elections conducted ten days later.
The Iranian people are very intelligent and possess modern technology which allows them real-time information access to the world. Despite the government’s attempts at covering up the growing coronavirus threat and trying to create a façade of the regime’s legitimacy, 57% of Iranian voters avoided the polls, making it the lowest election turnout since the ayatollahs seized power. The vast bulk of the Iranian people realized there was no sense in risking exposure to the virus to vote in a sham election as only candidates approved by the Supreme Council are allowed on the ballots. It is little surprise that 221 of 290 victorious candidates are either from or closely aligned with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
Instead of funding the medical community in January, as the coronavirus was starting to impact Iran, the government allocated $200 million to the Quds Force. This was immediately after the American airstrike that killed Quds Force Commander Qassim Suleimani at the Baghdad airport. As the international arm of the IRGC, the Quds Force is responsible for global terrorist operations and enforcing Ayatollah Khamenei’s agenda throughout the Middle East.
Ayatollah Khamenei already has billions of dollars available through hidden bank accounts and his affiliated associations which could be used for the medical emergency. By refusing and subsequently mocking America’s offer to provide medical help, he has exposed his hand. Khamenei recognizes that foreign medical professionals on the ground will be able to assess, and be duty bound to expose, the extent of the virus in Iran. Their reports will further validate information given out by the MeK and satellite imagery.
Iran has temporarily freed tens of thousands of people from detention because of the virus now spreading in its prisons. Prisoners whose only “crimes” were speaking out against the government or participating in demonstrations are still being held in custody. At the time of sentencing they were fortunate to have avoided execution. Because of their deteriorated physical condition and weakened immune systems from abusive incarceration, their deaths may prove to be a delayed sentence.
This past week, due to coronavirus fears, inmates rioted at Aligodarz and Khorrambad prisons. Both uprisings were violently suppressed by the IRGC. The religious fundamentalists have no intent of properly addressing the coronavirus problem in Iran. The IRGC has already hoarded the country’s hygiene items and is raising funds by selling the products to the citizens at much-inflated prices. This regime has no regard for the welfare of its citizens. Its only goals are to remain in power and attack anyone or any nation supporting moderate religious views. There is no reason to believe $5 billion dollars from the IMF will be used by the Iranian government for humanitarian needs.
Col. Wes Martin served as the senior anti-terrorism officer for all coalition forces in Iraq.