The fact that in the political structure of the Islamic Republic there are ministries whose ministers are in the cabinet and they change with the change of governments, but their policies are dictated neither by the government nor within this executive body, but from somewhere else, is not something that is exposed recently. In the case of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was Khamenei who, before the recent sham presidential election, which was boycotted by the majority of Iranians, explicitly laid down the rules of the game in the Islamic Republic for everyone, especially foreign politicians who wanted to revive JCPOA and continue negotiations, “Foreign policy is not determined by the Foreign Ministry,” he said.
But Haidar Moslehi, the former Minister of Intelligence, revealed exactly where the policies of such ministries are communicated from: “In 2009, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called me and said that he wanted to introduce me as the Minister of Intelligence. I said that I was a cleric and you are a private citizen, a mullah only listens to a mullah. The Ministry of Intelligence is the Ministry of the regime, not the Ministry of Government. That is why I said that if the Supreme Leader has a positive opinion, I will accept this position. The view of the head of the tenth government was that the Ministry of Intelligence is the Ministry of Government. […] Some intelligence was in the dignity of the Supreme Leader and only he should have been informed […]”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Intelligence, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Justice are among the agencies that in terms of structure or “security” nature of their mission have always been among the classic “regime” ministries (under supervision of Beit Khamenei), not only during Rouhani terms, but from long time ago.
Birth of a “Ministry of Regime”
In 2020, another ministry was removed from the executive branch and changed from “Ministry of Government” to “Ministry of the regime”: Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education. But exactly when, how and why did this metamorphosis take place?
The reason for this change was the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. From day one, COVID-19 was categorized as a “security issue” because of the severe restrictions it imposed on all aspects of social life and severely disrupted the regime – especially its propaganda machine. There is ample evidence of a lack of timely public announcement about the virus entering the country. These were critical days. The days were “security” days: Bloody November, the elimination of Qassem Soleimani, the regime’s senior terrorist, the downing of a passenger plane by two rockets fired by the IRGC in Tehran sky and killing of 176 passengers, the Fajr charade (anniversary of 1979 Islamic Revolution) and the crisis of legitimacy due to people boycotting the 11th election of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, were all some of the factors that played a role in the formation of a security atmosphere – security always means the security of the system – around issues related to the coronavirus. Khamenei described the deadly COVID-19 as a “fake disease” and merely an “excuse” for the “enemy” to strike at the regime. The first COVID-19 coughs were heard in Qom, the center of Shias, and the virus had spread from the city to other parts of the country without hindrance. The regime, however, refused to quarantine the city. FATA police (cyber police) arrested citizens who shared their observations on their personal pages on social media on charges of inciting “Qom phobia.” On Wednesday, February, 26, 2020, the cyberspace police of the Islamic Republic announced arrest of 24 citizens. On March 11, 2020, Khamenei ordered the formation of a campaign against coronavirus and appointed Hassan Rouhani as its chief.
Statistics and figures related to COVID-19 cases and deaths were announced from different centers and provinces of the country. This revealed contradictions and contradictory information in the statistics and figures officially announced by the Ministry of Health. On March 2, 2020, a six-member team from the World Health Organization arrived in Tehran with 750 tons of equipment to combat the epidemic. A week after returning from the trip, Rick Brennan, the World Health Organization’s regional director, told Reuters: “Statistics reported by Tehran can only show about one-fifth of the actual numbers. The reason is the few tests done.” In the same conversation, Brennan made another point: “We told them (the Islamic Republic authorities) that the weakest link in the chain of their system is the provision of data.” Regime’s response to Brennan’s criticism was quick. In March 22, 2020, the regime stopped announcing COVID-19 statistics by provinces. Thus, all ancillary channels were eliminated and information about “data”, statistics, numbers and the spread of the disease in the country was possible only through a channel completely under the control of intelligence agencies. Sunday, March 22, 2020 can be called the day the Ministry of Health transformed from a “Ministry of Government” to one of the “Ministries of the regime”. From that day until today, a vast apparatus and individuals at all levels of the system have been organizing and spreading big, stubborn and daily lies. Every day around 2 pm, the representative of this network appears in front of the reporters’ cameras and presents the numbers that are set with the events of the day and the upcoming relations and the gap from reality is getting bigger every day. With the release of the death toll for 2020 and the first four and a half months in the Persian year (March-August), recently published by the Civil Registry Organization, a horrific gap between the government’s “official data” and reality has suddenly opened up; a gap as big as at least 111,000 graves wide.
Since the official announcement of the COVID-19 outbreak, the virus causing the disease has had several genetic mutations. Delta, the latest of these mutations that is currently raging in Iran and has broken all previous records of mortality and morbidity, has been identified as more than 60% more contagious than alpha:
Simultaneously with these mutations, the official and media narratives of the regime also mutated, in accordance with the image that Khamenei described of the virus during his speeches and various occasions:
– Fake disease
– Not a very important disease
– Western biological weapon
– A malignant and problematic disease
Khamenei prescribed special treatment to deal with each of these mutated strains in his house:
– A so-called disease that was fundamentally fake. It was observed in March 2020. Khamenei did not see the need for “medical advice” because it was a “fake.”
– A not so important disease was seen for the first time in April 2020. It was something like a cold, less dangerous than the flu. The seventh prayer of Sahifa Sajjadieh was the “answer” for cure.
– The coronavirus weapon mutation was an American man-made virus. The Americans built it on a joint project with the “jinn” and “goblins”. The vaccines produced by the Americans and Westerners were in fact spying tools, and their importation was banned.
– A malignant and problematic disease was identified when Delta broke the record of burial in cemeteries. Importation of vaccines that were no longer spy tools were allowed.
On August 11, 2021, Alireza Zali, commander of the Tehran Corona Combating Committee, announced that he and his colleagues in government agencies had not told the World Health Organization the true number of COVID-19 deaths in Iran. What they have said during the 18 months of the epidemic is not true. The import and purchase of vaccines has been banned due to their high cost. He and the relevant agencies returned the global aid. Doctors Without Borders were not allowed to enter the country. Fars News Agency, IRGC media called for judicial action against Zali. This scandal had affected the integrity of the system. That is why the so-called “reformist” figures, whose most important mission is to save the system in crises, did not sit idle in the meantime. The arrest of several well-known figures of this movement who, according to unconfirmed statements and allegations, intended to file a complaint against the Ministry of Health, as the responsible institution, was widely reported in the media. No complaint was filed. A number of detainees were released within 24 hours. But it was too late. The hashtag “KhameneiVirus” had become viral again on social media.
Translation of this post by Sahar.