According to the latest coronavirus statistics emerging from Iran’s health ministry, 724 people have succumbed to the disease while nearly 14,000 are infected. Nothing the regime says can be trusted and most experts agree that these figures represent a gross understatement. In fact, it would be fair to say that Iran is now the global epicenter for COVID-19.
Based on open sources and utilizing various mathematical models, The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood demonstrates how it is possible, and even likely that the virus has already infected at least 586,000 Iranians. Some of the models posited by Wood indicate that as many as 8,000,000 Iranians have been infected. The article was published on March 9, so we can assume that the numbers have increased exponentially since then.
According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, COVID-19 has claimed 6,492 lives and infected 168,834 globally. Even if we were to adopt the lower estimate cited in Wood’s article, the Islamic Republic’s infection rate is still nearly 3.5 times higher than the entire world’s infection rate combined. We do not know how many Iranians have died from the Wuhan virus but a figure of 22,268 would not be an unreasonable estimate. We arrive at this number by multiplying the conservative infection rate estimate of 586,000 by 3.8 percent, which represents the global mortality rate.
To place things in proper perspective, in November 2019, the regime employed its Basij militia thugs to murder 1,500 anti-government protesters. The Wuhan virus has already claimed the lives of 14.5 times that amount. In the city of Qom, authorities are preparing mass burial pits to accommodate hordes of coronavirus-related deaths. So extensive are the burial trenches that they can be seen from space. Smuggled videos surfacing on the internet through social media show masses of bodies, all victims of the deadly virus, piled up in hospital morgues. On March 8, Iranian authorities claimed that 194 people had died from the coronavirus. But on that day, a representative of Iran’s health minister in the northern province of Gilan stated that more than 200 people had died of coronavirus in that province alone. The number of dead in a single Iranian province exceeded the total national figure of 194 announced by the government.
The regime has only itself to blame for this health catastrophe. A combination of government incompetence, a propensity to engage in obfuscation and conspiracy theories, and a near-psychotic inability to acknowledge fallibility, contributed to the spread of the disease.
The government was aware of the COVID-19 problem well before it reached pandemic proportions but took little, if any, corrective action. No effort was made to restrict flights to and from China. No effort was made to quarantine the city of Qom, ground zero for coronavirus in Iran. And no effort was made to close a shrine in that city, which served as a known breeding ground for the transmission of the virus. Iranian authorities however, did undertake extraordinary measures to stop ordinary Iranian citizens from disseminating information about the outbreak, unleashing their cyber police on them.
In typical fashion, Iran is responding to the crisis with conspiracy theories and is now blaming the United States and the Zionists (read Jews) for the coronavirus. On March 5, Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, suggested that the coronavirus pandemic was the result of a biological attack engineered by the United States against China and Iran. This absurd canard was echoed by several top Iranian officials, including Salami’s dissembler boss, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Iranian propaganda outlet, Press TV, featured no less than three articles claiming that the coronavirus was engineered by Israel to attack Iran. Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani and his oleaginous foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blamed U.S. sanctions for the uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19, and not Iranian bungling and deliberate efforts to suppress knowledge of its spread.
Iran is already facing a credibility problem with its own people. Following the downing of Kiev-bound Flight 752 in January, the regime denied any culpability and only admitted responsibility when it realized that it could no longer hide the truth. The majority of Iranians distrust their government and hold them in contempt.
Iran is desperate and the regime has belatedly come to recognize that it is unable to contain this epidemic, which has already affected the highest military and political echelons of the government. Dozens of Iranian parliamentarians, cabinet members, diplomats, and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp are either infected or have died from coronavirus. Clearly, COVID-19 has decimated the ranks of Iran’s ruling theocratic elite.
Desperate, the regime has turned to the International Monetary Fund for help. They have asked for $5 billion in assistance. It’s the first time in six decades that Iran has asked for such assistance. The U.S. is the IMF’s largest donor so the U.S. will have veto power over any such disbursement.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear however, that any aid to Iran to deal with COVID-19 should be conditioned on Iran’s release of foreign nationals it has taken hostage. Iran is currently holding four U.S. citizens, including Robert Levinson, who has been held hostage for 13 years. Iran is also illegally detaining citizens of France, Austria, Sweden, Australia and the UK. Some of these hostages have dual citizenship.
In addition to releasing hostages, Iran should also be required to suspend its rogue ballistic missile and nuclear programs. It should also be required to halt its proxy wars and suspend aid to terrorist groups like the Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran provides Hezbollah with $700 million on a yearly basis. It also provides substantial assistance to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Houthi rebels in Yemen and as assortment of allied Iraqi Shia militia groups. The IMF should not be required to subsidize Iran’s healthcare while the kleptocratic regime of the Islamic Republic squanders Iran’s wealth on weapons of mass destruction and bankrolling terrorism.
Iran has endured hardship in the past but the challenges that the regime currently faces is unlike any other it has faced before. The combination of crippling sanctions, plunging oil prices, soaring inflation, high unemployment, increasing displays of open dissent, bumbling public relations fiascos, and ravaging killer pathogens has created the perfect storm for the collapse of the regime. For most of the civilized world, it won’t come soon enough.