By Hossein Beizayi
As most people around the world prepare to say farewell to 2021 and herald the arrival of 2022 with optimism for a prosperous year ahead, it is worth looking into a few predictions and possibilities regarding Iran.
If you suppose the proposed budget bill of Ebrahim Raisi’s government could be the yardstick and crystal ball of Iran’s economy in the coming year, all signs indicate that despite all the promises and sugar-coatings, it will lead to higher inflation, higher unemployment, and a higher rate of corruption and non-transparencies, to say the least.
Due to the Iranian government’s plundering and its institutionalized corruption, the people’s livelihood is getting worse year by year. It has resulted in most of Iran’s population falling under the poverty line. The proposed budget is particularly striking given the budget’s projected 62% increase in tax revenues, a very steep increase that economists tend to view as a measure that depresses growth in national income. Indeed, the budget is poised to hurt the middle class, a slice of the society that is diminishing in the name of national self-reliance. The budget will not help the poorer classes much either if at all: inflation will outpace the proposed spending increases, and lower-income groups will be hit by increased and new taxes.
Learning from the past and knowing the nature of the Iranian regime, one could predict the worsening of Iran’s economy in the coming year, pushing more people to the government-announced poverty line. The pressure of the burden of poverty, rising inflation, and the rising cost of goods on people is such that their main issue is no longer welfare but to provide their very basic need; food.
The presidency of Ebrahim Raisi, known as the “Butcher of Tehran” for his role in the massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988, Iran’s new Chief Justice Mohseni-Ejei, who was sanctioned by the United States Department of Treasury in 2020 under a 2010 executive order and by the European Union in 2011 for his role as Intelligence Minister in the crushing of the 2009 protests in Iran, and newly appointed Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a notorious IRGC commander and the most corrupt mayor of Tehran, should reveal the fate of human rights in Iran in 2022. In last month alone, more than 44 executions were carried by the regime, including seven women and three young men who were juveniles when convicted. In fact, the number of executions in Iran in recent years has had an upswing, a matter that has alarmed the international community and was mentioned in the recent United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses.
Vienna nuclear talks
A fresh round of talks is going on in Vienna (8th round). After three weeks of talks, discussions on the Iran nuclear deal are essentially back to where they started in early summer. It might be too early to say if this new round of talks will have the same fate as the previous ones. What is clear is that the Iranian regime’s buying time tactic has come to an end, and a host of interviews and statements offered by multinational countries involved in the negotiations suggest that Iran might have about one month to bring some sense and logic to the negotiation table or the game will be over. Iran needs to reach some kind of agreement to get economic relief and save itself from suffocation, even for a short period of time. This scenario suggests that Iran will bow to the demands of the other countries to an extent and will still try to pursue its nuclear intentions away from the eyes of the international community.
Looking at the ever-increasing social unrests, strike actions, protests, demonstrations, and other forms of discontent suggests that 2022 will see an intensity of such protests. The institutionalized corruption and colossal mismanagement will continue, and the challenges of daily life for the ordinary citizens of Iran will double and triple. The regime’s unwillingness and inability to respond to the just demands of the people of different parts of the society will leave the people no choice but to bring their just demands to the streets of Iran in the form of protests and demonstrations. As these acts of social unrest propagate, the regime’s lethal and fully-armed security forces and plainclothes agents will become less effective in cracking down on down. The Iranian people are no more deceived by the regime’s hollow and meaningless promises and will become more persistent in their demands in 2022.
Will 2022 be a year of regime change in Iran?
Many analysts think 2022 will be a very volatile year for the regime in Tehran. A collapsing economy, high unemployment, close to 50% inflation, corruption, beyond and above methods of suppression suggest an uneasy year for the Iranian regime. The regime is well aware that the patience of the suppressed people of Iran has neared its end, and that at any moment, it may explode, and there is no way out of it. All the regime can do is try to postpone such a social explosion. Time will tell how successful the regime will be. If history is the best teacher, one should not be surprised to see regime change in Iran in 2022.