The commander of the Revolutionary Guards has announced that the Guards are ready to “handle” the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic, just days after warnings that poor Iranians could rebel against the regime.
On July 8, Iran’s health minister Saeed Namaki acknowledged that poverty could spark a rebellion.
A day later, General Hossein Salami told provincial commanders and the force’s medical division that “with the help of the almighty, we shall do everything in our power to handle the consequences ” of the epidemic. He made no reference to Namaki’s statements.
Iran’s health ministry, health officials and health experts have repeatedly said that Iran’s second wave of coronavirus has been linked to people not social distancing and not following health protocols.
They have called for gatherings to be banned, fearing that social distancing might be impossible and therefore pose a serious risk to the public.
Despite this, on July 9, President Rouhani asked the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s social, security and medical committees to draw up guidelines to hold mourning ceremonies for Ashura, the 10th day in the Islamic lunar calendar month of Muharram.
The day, which falls on August 29 this year, marks the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the third Shia Imam and the grandson of Prophet Mohammad.
At the meeting, Rouhani claimed that Iran had successfully reined in the Covid-19 epidemic in provincial centers.
Iran, he said, now had a lower rank among countries of the world with regard to coronavirus cases and fatalities than it had previously.
He also claimed that the World Health Organization had praised how Iran had coped and planned for the epidemic. Many other countries had looked to Iran and its experience when forging their own plans for fighting coronavirus, he said.
Alongside these claims, health ministry officials, including deputy health minister Ghasem Jan-Babaei, reiterated their worries about the shortage of manpower needed to cope with Iran’s coronavirus crisis, acknowledging that many people working in the health service had contracted the virus and many others were exhausted by months of hard work.
Furthermore, Jan-Babaei acknowledged the epidemic was obviously affecting the financial stability of Iran’s medical centers, which had been badly hit by the impact of the epidemic.