Iran President Hassan Rouhani. (Getty)

October 27, 2020

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Saturday slammed insults directed at President Hassan Rouhani. The comments appear to shed light on growing anger and rifts in Iran. While the specifics of the insults were not mentioned, the regime said criticism of the president was acceptable, but insults were not.

It appears that Rouhani is facing criticism due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and poverty in some regions. Iran is also under tough US sanctions, and its promises that the regime could circumvent US sanctions have not materialized.

Iran also has faced criticism internally from various men who may want to run for president. This means some have sought to emphasize poverty in the Khuzestan and Baluchestan provinces, as well as concerns over whether Iran would give China special trade rights on several islands in return for a trade agreement.

The government says it faced shortages of supplies to fight COVID-19, comparing the situation to a war.

“At the end of his speech, the leader of the Islamic Revolution emphasized the miraculous importance of prayer, supplication and asking for forgiveness to ward off calamity and added: ‘Supplication also attracted the opinion of God’s grace, which has always helped us cross this gorge,’” Fars News Agency reported.

Khamenei said he understood the needs of those in poverty and those facing deprivation. Clearly, a large amount of anger is boiling under the surface in Iran for it to be made public in such a manner.  The regime often brags of its new weapon systems, including missiles, radar and drones, but it is building the weapons on a foundation of poverty.

The country must deal with the economy using the best management to pass this difficult time, the supreme leader says. This means persuading public opinion that the country is on the right track. It appears the regime’s attempt to distract from economic failure at home is not working. Boasting in English about new air defenses or slamming France for “insulting the prophet” has not influenced the people at home.

Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Bahger Ghalibaf, a former IRGC Aerospace Force commander, has been touring Khuzestan, Baluchestan and other provinces. Critics say he may be positioning himself to run for president or to take a greater leadership role. However, his staff says he is merely gathering information.

The “purpose of these monitoring visits was to obtain accurate data and information from the decision-makers of the Islamic Consultative Assembly in order to solve the country’s problems and address the demands of the people, and to legislate and monitor properly, and to solve the people’s problems by implementing and monitoring the implementation of laws,” Fars News reported.

However, his trips show that all is not well in Iran. The provinces and regions in the periphery and borders are restive. While full details are not available, that there is so much criticism of Rouhani and that Ghalibaf is undertaking personal investigations reveals something is afoot.

There will be presidential elections next June, and all of the controversies could be linked to that. However, US pressure on Iran appears to be forcing the regime to deal with internal problems.

The Jerusalem Post

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.