The ideology and nature of the Iranian political system cast a shadow over political performance, statements and methods of dealing with internal and external events. These different levels of tackling developments in Iran can be discerned by reflecting the reactions that have emerged in dealing with the flood disaster that has swept through vast areas of Iran and included several provinces over the past week.
Before analyzing the different levels of official handling of the latest natural disaster in Iran, we should first shed light on some of its details. According to official figures and statistics on monitoring flood losses, the number of victims was 62. Moreover, the disaster was accompanied by the declaration of a state of emergency in several cities and governorates, especially Al-Ahwaz, whose towns were surrounded by water. As for the value of physical damage in facilities, services and property, it was estimated in billions of Iranian Tomans, of which 1,600 billion as a damage to the road sector only. Hundreds of villages and towns have also been evacuated in a move that reminded the residents of the forced displacement that Ahwaz has been witnessing for years.
On the other hand, the losses caused by floods and heavy rains have revealed the fragility of the infrastructure in Iran, as well as a dangerous and destructive corruption, which talking about it in parallel with the disaster has raised the dissatisfaction of the official authorities, which demanded to stop spreading accusations of corruption on social media.
If ordinary events in the past have easily revealed a prominent military dichotomy in Iran, the recurrent flood and rain crisis has affirmed once again this situation. And by this we mean that the armed forces in Iran is clearly divided by two parties, through the emergence of a different path followed by the Revolutionary Guard, which had its own style, even in dealing with the flood disaster, in contrast with the approach and geographical scope allocated to the regular army, which pays the price of the military division in the country, even at the level of dealing with natural disasters. It is known that the Revolutionary Guard differs from the regular army in terms of armaments, functions, the doctrine of combat and methods of movement within and outside Iran.
Returning to the flood disaster, the Revolutionary Guard dealt with it in ways that had nothing to do with rescuing missions or any other usual civil defense methods, to the extent that the Iranian presidency had to criticize the Revolutionary Guard’s use of explosives in order to open loopholes for the flood in northern cities. Although this violent and lunatic move has caused the death of innocent people and the destruction of roads and railways, the Revolutionary Guard has rejected all objections when its commander said that the explosions that were carried out on the roads and rail between some cities was the only way to direct water to the sea!
There is also the official level represented by jurists and clerics in power in their various positions. Those, in their turn, came up with different methods and ideas, the most striking of which was their explanation for the causes of floods, all of which denied any natural or climate explanations, but asserted on foreign plots, through possible manipulation of the climate, to cause a natural disaster that harms Iran, by targeting it with the weapon of heavy rain!
In all situations, natural or economic disasters, earthquakes or external sanctions, Iran’s political and religious class tend to justify that either by metaphysical interpretations full of superstition or by global conspiracies surrounding Iran that target its regime. This is in addition to justifying all that because of the foreign sanctions, the latest of which is the US ones. This latest course of action is adopted by the Iranian diplomacy and its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who commented on the shortage of helicopters for rescue and relief of those affected by the floods, by attacking the United States by saying that the war against his country is not only economic war but considered it – as he put it – economic terrorism. Zarif, in an implicit acknowledgment of the effectiveness of recent US sanctions, revealed that the United States blocked financial aid to the Iranian Red Crescent and closed all its bank accounts as it is no longer possible for Iranian citizens to send financial aid to flood victims from abroad.
Perhaps the level of Minister Zarif’s notes is closest to the language of politics, compared to the speech and sermons of the Supreme Leader, such as the obligation of the rich to help the poor in Iran, leaving the aid mechanism open and subject to feelings of mercy and compassion for the poo. Solutions which are practically unacceptable, because they are not subject to any regulations!
Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre
April 7, 2019