Khamenei Refuses to Withdraw from Development Fund to Finance Flood Relief Effort
Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei rejected the possibility of using the country’s development fund to finance flood recovery. He said that funds may be withdrawn only after all other sources have been exhausted. Khamenei has earmarked the development fund for financing the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and military conflict in the region.
The deadly sixteen-day floods are estimated to have caused over $2.2 billion in damages in 25 out of 31 Iranian provinces. Hundreds are believed to have died, thousands lost their homes, and hundreds of thousands of people were affected by the destruction caused by the floods.
Regime President Hassan Rouhani inquired about using the development fund in a letter to Khamenei because of the regime’s growing alarm at the price of the disaster. The Supreme Leader replied, “You are aware that withdrawing from the development fund is only permitted when all other channels of raising fund are exhausted.”
The “other channels” referred to are components of the nation’s budget, including construction, bank reserves, and insurance. Those resources are intended to be used on services that are already sorely lacking. Iran is in the midst of an economic crisis, and robbing the budget would exacerbate a situation that was already unsustainable before the floods. It’s also uncertain that the budget could withstand a $2.2 billion hit, even if the regime was willing to bring the country to the brink of economic destruction.
Majlis Members Express Concern
The economic damage caused by the floods has caused some members of the regime’s Majlis (parliament) to express concern about the government’s ability to cover the costs of recovery without drawing from the development fund. On Sunday, one member of the Majlis Development Committee was quoted as saying, “The volume of the destruction from the floods is enormous and the government alone is incapable of covering it. So, it is necessary to withdraw from the development funds with the supreme leader’s signature.”
Khamenei Deflects Blame
Khamenei still refuses to consider drawing from the development fund until the country is completely bankrupt, ignoring his own government and the growing anger from the Iranian people, who have taken to the streets in flood-stricken areas to protest the regime’s failure to provide assistance to those whose lives and homes have been destroyed in the disaster.
April 12 – Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, SW #Iran
The protests of the Eyn-e Do (Sayed-Karim) west of Ahwaz city protesting not receiving any aid from authorities and also #IRGC directing floodwaters into the people houses and destructions of them.#IranFloods@USAdarFarsi pic.twitter.com/dH6oU69J9g
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) April 12, 2019
In a recent meeting with some of his allies, Khamenei feigned sympathy for the flood victims, but he also took the opportunity to warn those in his faction about the threat that the aftermath of the deadly disaster poses to the regime. He made sure reference “enemies” in order to deflect blame from his government’s own actions, a common strategy employed by the regime in times of crisis.
In an April 15th report broadcast on the state-run IRIB news agency, Khamenei said, “We should be aware and walk carefully, like someone who is crossing a narrow road with deep cliffs around it. You must look at each step you take. You must know that the ‘enemies’ [the MEK and the U.S.] are increasingly plotting against us.”