By Hamid Enayat
In the circles close to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), it is told that all provincial centers have been ordered to be actively present in the health and treatment posts held for controlling the Coronavirus outbreak. It has been decided, more specifically, for the IRGC provincial intelligence chiefs to be members of provincial health and treatment posts. In addition, all IRGC centers have been ordered to be visible in the communities through the production and distribution of facemasks, and disinfecting the streets, in order to show that IRGC is an asset for health and treatment forces. This is because they want to lessen the people’s hatred towards this force, and on the other hand to be able to identify the opposition under this cover. To this end, IRGC has, symbolically, established a workshop for face-mask production, which is exclusively for propaganda and security purposes. In many of these workshops, sanitary principles are not observed. In this line, they have assigned the Basij (militia force under IRGC’s command) to go to people’s houses door to door, with the primary task of controlling the people. Otherwise, going to people’s houses is of no use, other than disseminating the infection even more among people.
Bahram Parsaie, MP representing Shiraz in parliament, has written a piece titled, ‘Coronavirus is a Serious Threat; it is Not Time for Trial and Error’. In it, he claims that politicizing the issue of this virus (IRGC and Basij’s involvement) is dangerous and has emphasized the necessity to avoid such. Parsaie told the Islamic Students News Agency, “I am very concerned about this. Based on which experience of the scientific method is this going to be conducted? How are they going to ensure the virus is not transmitted from the houses to them and vice versa? I beg them to avoid disseminating the virus anymore and not to put people at risk. This could be a threat to society”. If in fact, Basij was there to control the virus, they should have created health ports around the cities. Some videos on social media show many corpses around the cities that are not collected. Before anything else, managing these issues should be the priority.
The MP of Langeroud, Mehrdad Lahouti, when speaking about the Mahan airline (IRGC property) flights to China, said that these flights continued in order to pay off the Chinese support of Iran during the time of sanctions, as well as to have Mahan gain profits through this. These flights have been the main cause of the virus transferring from China to Iran. He then criticized the Ministry of Health harshly, saying that it had not taken the outbreak of Coronavirus seriously by conducting Mahan flights (agency semiofficial ILNA March 9)
IRGC has not stopped the flights to China yet. According to ISNA on the5th of March, scanning the flight’s information shows that Mahan is flying to at least one city in China on a daily basis. ISNA reports that following the Corona outbreak in China, and to prevent transferring the virus to Iran, the cabinet banned flight to China on 31st January. However, according to the Shanghai Airport’s official website, Mahan flights to the city continue as scheduled.
Hoarding of Medical and Hygienic Items by the IRGC
Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran in the U.S Department of State, answered a question regarding the sanctions against Iran and whether they have caused a medical crisis. He said, “Not, just look into the note one of the Iranian ministers wrote to Mr. Rouhani and asked about the 1,300,000,000 dollars of medical resources missing. IRGC has used cover-up firms, to get hold of the medicine sent to Iran. Then IRGC sold them in the black market to gain the profits.” (BBC Persian service, March 7)
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Saeed Namaki stated “Unfortunately, we have been informed that an interwoven network of face-mask hoarding is selling their goods to the dealer with prices 10 times higher than the real market. It is necessary for the security forces, police and the judiciary to solve the problem by taking hold of these face-masks, and also by taking control over the factories, and assigning an independent governmental manager to them” in a letter to Reza Rahmani, the Minister of Industry.