A Glimpse at Rouhani’s disastrous Record after One Year in Office

It is now one year since Hassan Rouhani, in a sham and full scale state- run presidential elections was made as the new so-called “moderate President” on June 15, 2013. He replaced the former controversial President Ahmadinejad whose rhetoric was to challenge the west and hold on to the regime’s ambition to acquire atomic bomb! Rouhani who has been a key figure in the leadership of the cleric regime since its inception facing enormous crises due to inner decay of his regime came out with a new mask of moderation and rapprochement toward west in order to address huge economic and political conflicts he inherited. According to reports published by Iranian regime officials and by domestic and international media, the economic, political and social situations have all deteriorated in Iran during the past year, under Hassan Rouhani’s government. Given the fact that official data in Iran is very often tinged with propaganda, and the crises facing the regime are much more extensive than has been reported domestically. Nevertheless, the regime’s press provides an introductory look at these issues, as detailed in the following report.

Ailing Economic Situation

The World Economic Forum evaluated 100 economic indicators for 148 countries across the globe for its 2013-2014 report. Iran ranked last in extent of foreign ownership and bank loan facilitation, and second to last on trade price lists and customs expenses. Iranian media has carried various data that help to partly explain this situation.

Stagflation has been considered to be a salient feature of Iran’s unpresedented ailing economy. Etemad Daily, on 12 Feb 2014, quoted regime officials as saying, “The current recession is unprecedented in the past 70 years.” The International Monetary Fund ranked Iran first in the world for inflation in 2013.


Reports published by the regime place official inflation at 40% and unemployment at 13%, but international sources give much higher figures.

In May, former Iranian MP, Mostafa Kavakabian said 11 million people were unemployed in Iran. The size of the Iranian workforce is estimated at about 27 million people, meaning that Kavakabian’s figure translates to 40% unemployment.

Mardom Salari Daily also reported on the employment crisis among university graduates. On 10 March 2014 it said that out of a total 10.3 million graduates, 3.9 million were employed, 1 million were unemployed and 5.3 million were economically inactive (neither employed nor non-employed). “Therefore,” the report concluded, “one can say to this day 50% of all those graduating from college have practically not entered the country’s economic cycle.” The Government run Gazette Shargh also acknowledged the Iran’s dramatic economic situation by referring to the latest World Bank report on Iranian disastrous economy. According to this shocking report Iran after Venezuela with an inflation rate of over 39 percent ranks the world’s second highest inflationary economy! According to this report, Iran’s inflation rate in 2012 amounted to 27.4 percent and 39.3 percent in 2013 whereas Germany and America each with 1.5 percent had the lowest rate of inflation worldwide.

In the 4 May 2014 issue of Etemad Daily, Mousavi Lari, Iran’s minister of interior during Khatami’s tenure, was quoted as saying, “It is said that 63% of the people have announced their income at 6 million rials a month, and 16% have said it is 8 million rials a month, and a very low percentage is actually above 10 million rials a month.”

In a debate aired on 23 May 2014, Alireza Mahjoub said, “The latest data from the Ministry of Trade, Work and Social Welfare shows the absolute poverty line from March 2013 to March 2014 in urban areas reached 9.2 million rials and in the villages it has reached around 7 million rials a month.” Therefore, around 79% of the Iranian people are living under the absolute poverty line.

Each year 7.5% of the population, or around 5 million Iranians, drop below the poverty line due to increasing prices of daily goods. Furthermore, due to high education costs, the number of working class children and homeless children has increased as well, reaching 3.5 million this year.

In Ebtekar Daily on 14 Jan 2014, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Road & Construction said, “From March to October 2013, the average price of buying and selling one square meter of a residential site in Tehran has increased by 54.3% in comparison to the same period last year, reaching 377 million rials.”

The following graphs show the recent increases in the prices of specific commodities.

Differences in prices of essential goods (From the start of eliminating targeted subsidies to this day)

Name

Price (March 2011)

Price (May 2014)

Rationed gasoline

4,000 rials

7,000 rials

Open market gasoline

7,000 rials

10,000 rials

Increase in price of various daily necessities

Type

Price (March 2011)

Price (May 2014)

Household gas (cubic meter)

700 rials

970 rials

Water (cubic meter)

2,550 rials

3,200 rials

Electricity (kW/h)

430 rials

500 rials

The Director General of the Oil Refinery and Distribution National Company was quoted by Resalat Daily in March 2014. He said, “This year an average of around 10 million liters of gasoline was imported into the country and in comparison to last year the amount of imported gasoline has tripled.”

Dire Human Rights Situation

According to all recognized international human rights standard, ever since Hassan Rouhani has taken office the situation of human rights in Iran has dramatically deteriorated. Repression, torture, suppressive, savage and degraded forms of punishments and executions mainly in public and in collective manner have sharply intensified under Hassan Rouhani’s tenure, provoking immense international concerns.

On March 16, 2014, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed concerns over the soaring rate of executions in Iran – including as many as 675 last year – and said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council,“The new government has not changed its approach regarding the application of the death penalty and seems to have followed the practice of previous administrations, which relied heavily on the death penalty to combat crime.”

Four days previously, he had said, “The new [Iranian] administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion, despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in.”

In a January 22, 2014 –press release, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran said, “The persistent execution of individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, association, and affiliation to minority groups contravenes universally accepted human rights principles and norms.”

Shaheed has reported that between 2012 and 2013, the rate of executions rose by 165%, and that there are serious questions about the standards applied to death penalty trials, especially in light of Iran’s history of executing political prisoners.

While Shaheed and other UN figures recognize that there have certainly been over 600 executions in Iran in the past year, sources inside the country show that from March 2013 to March 2014, 45 public executions were registered, along with 828 executions, political murders and suspicious deaths.

The annual US State Department report on worldwide human rights violations in 2013, has specifically acknowledged that the human rights situation in Iran remained poor even under the new president.

–The Iranian government’s official Tabnak news outlet has admitted that for each 100,000 people in the country 800 enter prison. Iran is fourth in the world in the number of prisoners per capita.

Under Rouhani Iran remains to be the biggest prison for journalist as it continues to imprison more journalists than almost any other country in the world. The regime regularly arrests journalists and bloggers, imprisoning them without charge or trial, or on the basis of trumped up charges such as “spreading propaganda against the system” or “insulting the .”

The regime also frequently shutters newspapers, including five so far under the Rouhani presidency: BahrAsemanEbtekarNeshat, and Ghanoon.

 

Appalling Support for International Terrorism & Meddling

 In Rouhani’s government the policy of meddling in other countries and exporting terrorism and fundamentalism has intensified each day and remains to be the most active state sponsor of international terrorism.

The US State Department recently reported that the Iranian regime remains a major supporter of terrorism and continues to challenge requests to prove its nuclear ambitions are peaceful. The State Department added that Tehran is pressing its support of Palestinian terrorist groups and strengthening its presence in Africa, and attempting to smuggle weapons to separatists in Yemen and Bahrain.

Of course Iran has also been one of the main supporters of the Assad regime in Syria. On 4 May 2014 Fars News Agency reported that IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, said, “130,000 trained Bassij members are waiting to be dispatched to Syria. Today, we are fighting for interests such as the Islamic revolution in Syria and our defense is similar to that of the Sacred Defense [the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War].”

This foreign involvement expands Iran’s control over the region. On 2 May, Tabnak website quoted former IRGC chief and current Khamenei military advisor Rahim Safavi as saying, “Iran’s influence from the Iran-Iraq-Syria has reached the Mediterranean. Our defensive border is in southern Lebanon with Israel and our strategic depth has reached the Mediterranean above Israel.”

 

Nuclear Ambition

Despite the continuation of the nuclear negotiations between the regime and P5+1, various officials within the Rouhani government still emphasize their desire to complete the nuclear enrichment project.

On 12 October 2013, via Fars News Agency, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi stressed, “For ten years we have been insisting on this issue that suspending enrichment is impossible.”

Fars News Agency, reported on 18 December 2013 that Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed, “The structure of our nuclear program has been saved and 20% enrichment could be restarted within 24 hours.”

In a 24 January 2014 interview with CNN, President Rouhani said, “Under no circumstances will Tehran destroy any of its centrifuges.” And on the Tabnak website on 15 January 2014 he said that Iran was not willing to back down from its supposed legal right to nuclear technology.

On Aljazeera TV on 17 February 2014 the Chair of Iran’s Nuclear Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi made similar remarks: “Uranium enrichment is our right. The percentage and method of enrichment is also our right. The nuclear fuel cycle is our right and we will not back down from it; therefore they must be certain that enrichment will continue. Nuclear sites will continue and our activities inside the Arak site will also continue.”

In the Islamic Republic Newspaper on 19 February 2014, Abbas Araqchi suggested that Iran had no real plans to comply with the demands of a nuclear agreement. “What has been announced as the dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program and facilities is in our view not on the agenda,” he said. “Halting Iran’s nuclear program has neither begun nor will begin in the future.”

This refusal to comply also applies to the issue of international sanctions. Reuters News Agency, on 12 May 2014, reported on a new classified report by UN experts, which pointed out some of the Iranian regime’s methods of curbing sanctions, including hiding titanium casings within metal tubes and using the petrochemical industry as a cover for acquiring items for the heavy water nuclear reactor. 

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