Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei wearing a mask in work meetings, June 27, 2020. (khamenei.ir)

By Adena Nima

January 9, 2021

The Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime banned the import of COVID-19 vaccines made by the US and UK in a televised speech today.

“If the US and Pfizer can make vaccines, they should use it themselves to prevent so many of their deaths,” Ali Khamenei said.

The regime’s Supreme Leader called these vaccines “untrustworthy” adding that the US and UK wanted to “test their vaccines on other nations”. He also endorsed the so-called “Iran made” vaccine that was supposedly tested on volunteers last week. Khamenei called this vaccine “the country’s pride”.

Following Khamenei’s remarks, the spokesperson for Iran’s Red Crescent said Iran’s request for Pfizer vaccines had been canceled. The Red Crescent had said on December 28 that 150,000 Pfizer vaccines would be imported to Iran with the help of American “charities”.

Twitter has removed Khamenei’s tweet about not trusting US or UK vaccines because it spreads misinformation about #COVID19pic.twitter.com/EtVa7y5WDt— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) January 8, 2021

Before this, in late March 2020, Ali Khamenei claimed that the COVID-19 virus was “specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians” and refused US assistance in fighting the deadly virus that has killed over 198,000 people in Iran.

We all know that the US and many other countries have started vaccinating millions of people with “US-made” vaccines and that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been authorized for use by top health organizations around the world. Khamenei knows that too.

In fact, top regime officials travel to Europe and the US for treatment all the time and receive the best treatment and medicine money can buy from the “Great Satan”. I am pretty sure Khamenei is one of them.

It is a well-known fact that the children of regime officials are Europe and US educated and pride themselves in living abroad often flaunting their lavish lifestyles on the internet.

So why is Khamenei suddenly concocting conspiracy theories that make him look like a senile old man?

Because he wants an excuse to delay vaccination as much as possible. Unlike other world leaders, he does not care about the thousands of deaths from the virus in the worst-hit Middle Eastern country. In fact, the regime’s policies from the beginning of the pandemic have facilitated coronavirus deaths. If anything, the pandemic has aided the regime and has thus far prevented major protests, the likes of which erupted in Iran in 2019 and early 2020 following the IRGC’s shootdown of Ukrainian flight PS752.

Khamenei’s ban has angered Iranians, many of whom are expressing their not so very nice opinions about Iran’s dictator on the internet as I type.

Will this new vaccine ban coupled with economic grievances lead to street protests? We will have to wait and see. But one thing is very clear. COVID-19 will not stay forever, even if Khamenei wills it.   

INW

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.