In history, when Herodotus describes the geography and peoples of ancient Libya, tells the fate of a tribe that once lived in the Gulf of Sidra, in the neighborhood of the Nasamones and Garamantes. One day, these people will be wiped out of the world. Herodotus explains how: The Psyllis lived far from the coast, and since the burning south wind had been blowing from the heart of the desert to this land for some time and had dried up all the water reserves of this tribe, the chiefs and elders consulted with each other to find a solution. To end the drought and famine, everyone decided to go to war with the “south wind”. Herodotus narrates that as soon as the foot of the corps reached the desert, the south wind blew a storm of sand, so that the whole corps of Psyllis was buried under the rubble in the blink of an eye. This is how these people vanished from human history.
2500 years later, when the thirsty students of the Shiite sect brought viruses thousands of times smaller than sand from the land of China to the cities, water and soil of Iran, and soon polluted the whole country, the ignorant and Islamist rulers of Iran marched through the cities’ streets with military equipment to confront these viruses. They called it “biological defense exercise”! The result of these campaigns was a more rapid spread of the deadly disease, which has now become a global pandemic.
Looking at the regime’s performance against the Coronavirus outbreak to date, and look at all the measures and actions in the form of a coherent system of approaches and solutions which lead to crisis control and solution, we’ll find that ultimately most of them have been irrational, out of any system and completely futile. Some of them were not only useless, but also caused the disease to spread faster. A number of other measures were introduced only at the media and never materialized, and no one ever asked about them again.
The purpose of this short article is not to point out the big and small mistakes of the regime in the face of this crisis, but to draw the main lines of the sketch that was formed during this confrontation. The regime has gone to war with a virus that has reached the bottom of its strategic depth and is taking more and more victims every day. What appears before the eyes of the beholder is more than a collection of conquests or defeats. In this confrontation, the abilities and disabilities, the weaknesses and shortcomings, as well as the methods and strategies of the regime in the fight against a serious threat from within are revealed. The plot of this plan is to try these lines.
On Friday, March 13, world media quoted Maj. Gen. Bagheri, Islamic Republic’s Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, stating that traffic will be cleared across the country, in all cities, by the military within 24 hours. People will be barred from commuting on the streets, shops, etc., and their well-being status will be monitored within a week or 10 days at the latest. In the same news, he promised that 1,000 fixed and mobile clinics of the armed forces will be added to the country’s medical facilities. This is called martial law. The regime, however, has always avoided calling the phenomena by their real names. However, none of these happened and nothing was delivered. Instead, it became clear that the regime was no longer able to organize such a large-scale operation in the event of a similar crisis, such as what happened in November 2019.
That is why, after that date, the regime focused all its efforts on opening several others fronts in this battle. The coordination of operations on these fronts became the responsibility of the IRGC Intelligence Protection forces, the security services and the Judiciary. Instead of monitoring the patients and infected cases, all efforts were made to monitor and control the statistics and numbers of patients and deaths. The news machine was well lit. The security ambience conquered all hospitals. Personnel did not have the right to contact members of the media without coordination with the intelligence services stationed at the medical centers. FATA police (Cyber police) began threatening and intimidating Internet activists, citizen journalists and all social media users who published their observations just like other users in the world. It was not long before the media reported the widespread arrests of Internet activists across the country. All the information and news had to come out of only one controlled gate, and that was when the daily show of the Ministry of Health, starring Kianoush Jahanpour, started to air. Statistics provided by Jahanpour first omitted the details: the number of patients and deaths was not announced separately for each province. This reduced the likelihood of errors in the falsified statistics. On the other hand, the Judiciary maintained the legal aspect of the operation and issued the necessary orders for the arrest of the dissidents.
The Ministry of Health online screening project in cooperation with the Civil Registration Organization and the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology began. The result of this collaboration was the leaking of personal information of millions of Iranians in darkweb. Of course, the scandal series of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology did not end here. Earlier, an App commissioned by the Ministry and designed by “Hooshmand” company was identified as a spyware. Two copy versions of the Telegram app made by the same company also led to the leaking of 42 million Iranian users’ data. The dreadful job of Azari Jahromi’s Ministry reveals another weakness of the regime: the inability to build the necessary infrastructure for the complete intelligence and information gathering domination over citizens.
Despite widespread threats and arrests, doctors, medical staff and citizens did not stop reporting events independently on cyberspace. At the top of courageous citizen reporters, we can name Dr. Rahim Yousefpour, an internal medicine specialist from Saqqez, Kurdistan province. Dr. Yousefpour was summoned to court on Saturday, April 4, after being repeatedly threatened to death by IRGC intelligence agents and FATA police multiple times. The reason for these summonses is the reports that he shares on his Instagram page about his daily work and struggle against the Coronavirus. According to the official statistics, 172 Saqqez residents have died of Coronavirus until April 3. Meanwhile, Dr. Yousefpour, who has been working in two hospitals in Saqqez for many years, on March 10 said that the number of deaths in this city due to Coronavirus is 4 digits:
And this is one of the old and big weaknesses of the totalitarian and repressive Islamic regime, which despite spending billions of dollars and years of effort, has not succeeded in resolving it: Cyberspace! The Internet has become a nightmare for the regime, and in this nightmare, brave men and women snatch the sleep from the devil’s eyes every night.
Translation of this article by Sahar.
Cover: Nowshad Arefin