Iranians tire of government waste, failed foreign policies

The statements illustrate the challenges Iran's government has internally. While it puts on a brave face abroad, the reality is more complex at home.

Rooftops of Yazd on a sunny winter day in Iran. (photo credit: GETTY IMAGES)
Rooftops of Yazd on a sunny winter day in Iran.
(photo credit: GETTY IMAGES)
A press conference by Iranians from a society of “veterans” of the Islamic Revolution issued a scathing statement that bashed the government for budgetary failures and “sacrificing internal trust for relations with several countries,” Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported.
The article was presented without judgment, but it clearly appears to be intended as a harsh critique of some current officials by more conservative forces.
However, it is also emblematic of a critique that is heard in other sectors of Iran but which cannot be published because it represents dissenting voices.
According to the article, the Revolutionary Front association dates from the 1980s and brings together like-minded “friends.” According to the secretary-general of the Veterans Association, “The group of friends is based on change, and we have good intensive meetings on various occasions in the form of three organizations of the Veterans Association. We had a population of martyrs and a population of marchers.”
While some in the Iranian regime would have us believe that what is important is the “resistance” and need to confront Israel, the real story in Iran is that people want basic things, not another ridiculous foreign conflict.
“The main problem of our people today is the issue of livelihood and economy, which unfortunately, the government’s performance in this area has not been appropriate,” said the secretary-general of the Islamic Revolutionary Martyrs Association. “There are many criticisms of the government, and we even see that friends of the government have criticisms.”
These men, and the press conference included only men, say the government came to power with a series of promises, thinking that their solution would be its relationship with the United States. “The problem with this government was that it had all its hopes on the United States and the three European countries, and it did not pay attention to anyone who had sympathetic criticism,” the society of veterans said in their statement.
THIS IS important because it illustrates the refrain that has been heard against Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani: that they have spent too much time chasing after Western promises. Zarif feigns being tough at home, with his posts about Qasem Soleimani and the IRGC. But secretly, he feels more at home in Washington or Paris than he does around the Taliban, who he met last weekend. As a classic charlatan, he knows he is lying on behalf of the regime he serves. The far-right voices in Iran also know that his type have been lying for years.
“Government officials trusted the enemy and tied the country’s economy to foreign policy, but they did not succeed. Now we see that the government is still looking for discussions,” the statement said.
Without naming names, this is aimed at Zarif and his friends. Why are gas prices increasing and other economic problems arising?
“Unfortunately, there was no trust inside, and everything was sacrificed because we want to establish relations with several Western countries,” the statement said.
There have even been power outages.
“The gas-storage company was shut down, and now we see a large amount of fuel oil and diesel consumed, which causes both pollution and the destruction of the country’s reserves,” the statement said. “The government has not been successful in exploiting renewable energy. Unfortunately, the country was abandoned, and the neighboring countries were not considered for economic relations... In Iraq and Syria... the enemies have been able to have more economic exchanges with these countries.”
This is a harsh indictment of the current Iranian government. It has squandered resources in Iraq and Syria. It has wasted time and precious assets. It has ruined the economy and the environment.  
Even worse, the society of veterans said in their statement: “A significant amount of the country’s gold was auctioned off. Our $18 billion was wasted due to mismanagement.”
And there is more: Regarding petroleum products, “We also see that the government did not believe in building a refinery.”
The trust of the people has been “destroyed,” the statement said.
Such statements, made by protesters in 2019, led to a brutal crackdown in which more than 1,000 people were killed. The government has been hanging dissidents and crushing minorities, such as Kurds and Baloch. But the above-mentioned statement is made from a pro-government angle, critiquing the sellouts within the current administration.
“We accept interaction with the world, but we should not be happy with the enemy and consider interaction with the world only as interaction with a few specific countries,” the statement said.
The Iranian parliament has approved plans to provide cash subsidies for citizens, but this can cause inflation, and it requires proper planning, the secretary-general of the Association of Veterans said. On the other hand, about eight million people do not have insurance, and the parliament should develop a plan to address the issue, he said.
The statements illustrate the challenges Iran’s government has internally. While it puts on a brave face abroad, the reality is more complex at home.