• Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022
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    The natural disaster has also revealed some of the fundamental weaknesses of a dysfunctional system, which has devoted its primary resources and much of its energy to promoting an eerie ideology and seems incapable of carrying out the basic tasks of a normal nation-state. li>

  • President Hassan Rouhani, who spent a week-long holiday at the island resort of Qishm, seemed out of reach. “Chief Supervisor” Ali Khamenei was busy with a poetry meeting, was unavailable for several days and found it unnecessary to comment on the matter at all.
  • The Iranians then marveled as regular units of the regular army marched into the field to save lives, prevent the floods from spreading further, reopen roads and even begin repairing some of the damage. Encouraged by the presence of regular army units, thousands of volunteers also flocked to help with the disaster. Contacts across Iran described the solidarity shown by ordinary citizens as “exemplary”, suggesting that Iran deserves a better government.


It may be weeks, if not months, before the full facts of the current nationwide floods in Iran are available. But we already know that the floods are one of the biggest natural disasters that Iran has experienced in half a century.

According to preliminary data from the Islamic Red Crescent, the floods have affected more than 300 major and minor cities in 22 of Iran’s 31 provinces and have affected 18.5 million people, nearly a quarter of the country’s total population. About 1.2 million people have become homeless, at least temporarily.

The damage to infrastructure across the country is similarly massive. With 141 rivers overflowing their banks and about 500 landslides on 3,000 kilometers of roads and highways connecting thousands of villages, 78 medium-sized and larger cities have been partially or completely destroyed.

In addition, 87 bridges, 160 dams and more than 1,000 kilometers of railway lines have been destroyed. The floods have put more than 18,000 factories and workshops out of operation, while the damage to agriculture is described as “unmanageable.”

Seen in a perhaps broader perspective, the natural disaster has also revealed some of the fundamental weaknesses of a dysfunctional system, which has devoted its primary resources and much of its energy to promoting a sinister ideology and seems unable to take care of the basics of a normal nation state. tasks.

It took the parallel, co-existing authorities in Tehran more than 48 hours to realize what was happening and give the state-controlled media the green light to report on it.

Then it took another two days before the various state dual bodies decided who should do what. President Hassan Rouhani, who spent a week-long holiday at the island resort of Qishm, seemed out of reach. “Chief Adviser” Ali Khamenei, who was busy with a poetry meeting, was unavailable for several days and found it unnecessary to comment on the matter at all.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which often boasts of its imaginary victories in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and promises to hoist the banner of Khomeinism in Washington, was forced to intervene – not to save the affected civilians, but to protect the infrastructures that the garden has built and runs as businesses.

It was quickly revealed that these infrastructures, which i.a. include railway lines built into traditional river channels and dams hastily erected in the wrong places and by the wrong rivers, contributed massively to the floods.

The IRGC has built over 300 primitive dams for the purpose of diverting water from various rivers to land areas, which the farm has acquired and transferred to its active and / or retired officers.

In a strategy reminiscent of the Chavistas in Venezuela, the IRGC has also helped many farmers, seen as part of the regime’s support base, cut down large tracts of forest, which has further increased the risk of flooding.

More than a week after the disaster struck, Rouhani blamed, in utter disguise, IRGC’s cowboy-like “social” construction projects and profit plans. The head of the IRGC, General Muhammad-Ali Aziz-Jaafari, responded by accusing the Rouhani government of incompetence and mismanagement.

The failure of the official government, led by Rouhani, and the unofficial one, led by General Jaafari, who, at least in theory, are both under Khamenei’s ultimate control, allowed other actors to come to the fore.

The first to do so was the National Army, which since the mullahs seized power in 1979, has been treated stepmotherly like a Cinderella in boots.

The Iranians then marveled as special units from the regular army marched into the field to save lives, prevent the floods from spreading further, reopen roads and even begin repairing some of the damage. Encouraged by the presence of regular army units, thousands of volunteers also flocked to help with the disaster. Contacts across Iran described the solidarity of ordinary citizens as “exemplary”, suggesting that Iran deserves a better government.

The IRGC responded by entering dozens of “madaheens”, professional preachers of the religious mass, whose patron is Khamenei. These “madaheens” jumped into the water and sang “Suffering makes us strong!” and “We are not afraid of death” while beating themselves on the chest in the same way as mourning the martyr Imam Hussein at Muharram [Islamic New Year month].

In some places they were accompanied by women who assist in the mourning congregations of Muharram as “tearful helpers.”

The parallel governments also spent time debating whether to ask for outside help.

While the official Foreign Ministry awaited instructions regarding contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross and other relief organizations, the unofficial Foreign Ministry, housed in Khamenei’s office, decided that “those who know how to grieve over Hussein” do not need to humiliate themselves. by rattling the begging bowl in front of “crusaders and Zionists.”

During the Bam earthquake in 2003, more than 60 countries rushed to help Iran deal with the disaster. The facade government of the time, led by President Muhammad Khatami, welcomed foreign aid. This had made the “Chief Adviser” angry.

“How could we humiliate Islam against the unbelievers?” thundered Khamenei.

This time, however, the facade government, led by the unfortunate Rouhani, dared not defy the “Chief Supervisor.” Rouhani’s first secretary, Eshaq Jahangiri, had the following to say: “A country as rich as the Islamic Republic does not need foreign aid.”

But to deceive his American apologists, Muhammad Javad Zarif, the man who plays the role of foreign minister, still had to blame the United States for the lack of any foreign aid or mere compassion.

“US sanctions are preventing aid from reaching Iran,” Zarif’s spokesman said last Monday.

However, everyone knows that humanitarian aid as well as food and medicine and other commodities without probable military use are not covered by the sanctions of the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

And in any case, there is no sanction against a foreign leader, such as our dear friend President Vladimir Putin, calling anyone in Tehran to express his condolences and sympathy.

The problem is that Putin did not want to know who to call in Tehran: Mullah Rouhani, who plays president, or Khamenei, who could be offended if told he had suffered a catastrophe in his “Islamic” paradise. ?


Sources and Notes

Amir Taheri was editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked for or written for countless magazines, authored eleven books and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987.

Original article: “The Floods, the Mullahs and the Cinderella in Boots” – 2019-04-07. Translated by Mette Thomsen, published 2019-04-12. Reprinted with permission of the Gatestone Institute.

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