Photo: Reuters

The authorities of Iran and Venezuela were in the “same boat”.

A pandemic of a novel coronavirus in the region of the greater Middle East hit hardest by Iran, although his government is trying to hide it. Now Tehran and President Hassan Rouhani are trying to avoid disaster and save the economy, a very weakened even before COVID-19 – due to many years of mismanagement and funding military adventurism and terrorist movements outside the borders of Iran. However, despite all experience troubles and difficulties, to change its foreign policy of Iran, obviously, not intended. And now one of the main directions of expansion is once again becoming Venezuela, writes svoboda.org.

The press Secretary of the government of Iran Ali Rabia recently admitted that due to COVID-19 crisis more than seven million Iranians have lost work or had been “reduced for an indefinite time.” Rabia added that over 35% of Iranians today barely make ends meet.

In an editorial published by Foreign Policy, emphasizes that the bleak economic prospects of Iran not left Hassan Rouhani have no choice but to re-authorize all the business activities in the country, including the resumption of work almost all commercial enterprises. The incomes of the Iranian state budget has fallen several times, and in the face of continuing national quarantine regime in Tehran is extremely difficult to keep the economy afloat – as it did other countries, the authors write. The Finance, industry and trade in Iran was in poor condition even before the advent of COVID-19. In October 2019, the international monetary Fund predicted that in 2020 the economy of Iran will be reduced by 9.5 percent.


Pilgrims at the tomb of a Shiite saints in the South of Tehran. May 25, 2020

As I recall in Washington, in many ways, the crisis in Iran is now broke also due to the fact that Tehran has for many years staged expansion in the outside world and funding the Pro-Iranian, primarily Shiite movements and groups in other States such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, many above the needs of its own population. According to the Ministry of Finance of the USA in 2019 Hassan Rouhani personal decision withdrew $ 4.8 billion from the national development Fund of Iran – and translated them to support the state propaganda and the allied groups and regimes abroad.

Last March, Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has increased the funding of the Islamic revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), listed in the US and many other Western States to foreign terrorist organizations further 33 percent of the allocated budget by the Parliament. He also increased approximately 50 percent of the funding of Iranian paramilitary militia “Basij”, which uses child soldiers and is mainly engaged in the suppression of dissent inside the country.


Ali Khamenei speaks to the nation on the occasion of the national holiday of al-Quds (“the Day of the future liberation of Jerusalem”). May 22, 2020

Today, many remember Ali Khamenei initially rejected all concerns of the novel coronavirus as “negative propaganda” allegedly spread by the enemies of the state to lower voter turnout in the parliamentary elections on 21 February. However, to date, Iran came out on 10-11-th place in the world in terms of infection of the population – the presence of infection is confirmed by almost 140 thousand people, nearly 7 and a half thousand patients died. And in mid-April, according to Radio Farda, the statistics division of the Iranian Parliament announced that the country has killed more than 8,700 people, which is almost twice more than 4800 deaths officially registered by that time.

On may 25, after the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, Iran reopened its religious Shiite Shrine, about two months after their closure. This decision followed after Hassan Rouhani said a day earlier that 10 of the country’s 31 provinces are now under “curb the spread of the virus”. According to Rouhani, the Shrine will be open every day for three hours morning and three hours in the evening.


Tehran, may 22, 2020

Radio Farda also emphasizes that the past trading performance of import from Iran to China fall in the first four months 2020 to 61 percent compared to the same period last year. It is the Beijing over the past years is the largest trading partner of Tehran. But in 2018 its imports from Iran fell by more than 70 percent and exports by 48 percent. The main reason for the decline in trade associated with a sharp decline in exports to China of Iranian oil. In January – April of 2019 China was one of the countries that the United States released from restrictions in the purchase of oil from Iran. However, in may 2019, Washington announced a policy of reducing Iranian oil exports even to zero and removed China from the list of countries that have some preference against Iran. So now China buys Iran more than 70 thousand barrels of crude oil per day, accounting for one tenth of the volume of purchases before the introduction of us sanctions.

However, for political adventures of Tehran, including on the other side of the world, it is not affected – for example, the fact that Iran, according to the U.S. state Department remains an accomplice to the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the embezzlement of gold reserves of Venezuela. The largest Iranian airline Mahan Air only in April – may this year completed up to 15 flights to Venezuela. It is known that at least one of these aircraft was delivered to Venezuela, the country that once had a strong oil-refining industry, chemicals for the production of gasoline. And before the return flights to Iran in planes loaded gold bullion.

Agency Associated Press drew attention to the fact that these flights Mahan Air are performed in violation of the General ban on all international flights imposed by Maduro in connection with the distribution of COVID-19. The activities of the Iranian airlines in General are constantly at risk of infection as Iranians and people from other countries in the Middle East. In February, for example, Mahan Air has made more than 55 flights at Chinese airports, as well violating the Iranian regime imposed a ban on flights to China. With Mahan Air is also closely linked to the Lebanese group “Hezbollah”, which an increasing number of countries, including in Latin America, recognize the terrorist. So, in January of this year it has made to the lists of terrorist organizations of Colombia and Honduras, in the past year, Paraguay and Argentina.


“Boeing-747” airlines Mahan Air

According to Bloomberg, the government of Maduro in the last couple of months spent on the purchase in Iran needed for its petrochemical equipment industry, valued at approximately $ 500 million, about 9 tonnes of gold. This gold was loaded on the returning to Iran Mahan Air aircraft. Such actions led to the decrease in the financial reserves of the country up to 30-year low.

In the case of Venezuela, as with Iran, the US sanctions, aimed at including to deprive of Nicolas Maduro and his entourage the opportunity to engage in illegal gold mining and to use as a tool in their activities the state oil company.

Venezuela, with the largest proven oil reserves in the world today is very much dependent on the help of Iran – because of the gasoline shortages that occurred in the country resulting in the total collapse of the economy, which continue to awkwardly run by the Venezuelan and Cuban military, socio-political crisis and pandemic COVID-19. All the Venezuelan refineries are obsolete and dilapidated, and now Caracas, tragicomic no matter how it looks, depends on the supply of Iranian fuel. Eyewitnesses say that on the black market in Venezuela today, the price of one liter of gasoline – not less than 3 US dollars, while the minimum wage of $ 5.


Iranian tanker Fortune anchored in the Venezuelan port of Puerto Cabello. 24 may 2020

May 24, from Iran to Venezuela, arrived the first of five tankers of gasoline sent to the Tehran regime to its Latin American ally. It at the port of Puerto Cabello met personally, Tarek El-Aissami, oil Minister in the government of Nicolas Maduro. These five tankers transported from Iran to Venezuela, a total of about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline. While Hassan Rouhani has several times in recent days has publicly declared that if the United States would “create problems” for this flotilla, the response of Tehran “will be proportionally hard.” In turn mazurowski defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said that the Iranian oil tankers in exclusive economic zone of his country will escort warships and planes to Venezuela.

Earlier this week, edition of the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration of the President of the United States Donald trump is exploring the possibility of imposing new sanctions against Iran to block it, Iran’s oil exports to Venezuela. After five Iranian tankers went to Latin America, the White house began to discuss the possibility of confiscation of these vessels in case of refueling in ports of third countries.