MEK Iran: Regime Factions Point Fingers over Demise of JCPOA
A recent article on the Iran Focus website called attention to the regime’s doubletalk surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Mehdi Hosseini’s article, entitled “Outcome of the JCPOA, Long Queues for Chicken and Oil,” described the political process by which regime Supreme Leader Ali Khameini publicly condemned the JCPOA while privately installing President Hassan Rouhani and his faction in order to put the deal in place.
So much economic prosperity
When the JCPOA was signed, Rouhani promised the Iranian people “so much economic prosperity that people would not need the 45,000 tomans subsidies at all.” While the JCPOA did bring money into Iran before sanctions were reinstated in 2018, MEK sources report that none of that cash made it into the pockets of the Iranian people.
The regime did not profit for long from the JCPOA either. In 2018, the United States withdrew from the agreement and reinstated pre-2015 sanctions, effectively choking off Iranian oil exports. A member of Khamenei’s faction recently announced that “the outcome of the JCPOA is long queues for chicken and oil.”
Hosseini wrote that Khamenei initially supported the JCPOA, at least privately. Khamenei supported Rouhani as a means of tempering Iran’s aggressive reputation with the international community. While Khamenei himself could not openly support a deal with the Americans, he allowed Rouhani to do so, and his faction happily reaped the profits of what they called Khamenei’s “miracle.”
Rouhani saw the JCPOA as a means to “advance negotiations for the government and maintain the regime’s rule under the shadow of a threat of war by world powers,” according to Hosseini. He was incredibly successful in achieving this goal, at least in the original Iran nuclear deal. Even now that sanctions have been reinstated, the world is much more aware of the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.
Economic and social unrest
Unfortunately for both Rouhani and the people of Iran, the current status of the JCPOA has resulted in snowballing economic and social crises. Even before sanctions were reinstated, the majority of Iranians lived in poverty, and social unrest was nearing a breaking point. The December 2017/January 2018 nationwide anti-regime uprising occurred several months before the U.S. announced plans to withdraw from the JCPOA. The anti-government sentiment was at a fever pitch already when the economic crisis somehow worsened.
In November 2019, the regime announced a sudden hike in fuel prices in order to address budget deficits. The increases went into effect without warning, setting off days of protests around the country. The November 2019 Uprisings led to renewed calls for the overthrow of the regime. 1,500 protesters were killed by security forces and another 12,000 were arrested during the uprisings.
A change of attitude
Now that the JCPOA is in shambles and the country is close to overthrowing its leaders, Khamenei’s faction has chosen to openly attack the deal they once quietly championed. On March 25, 2021, a regime minister asked MP Mohammad Nabavian “why people should stand for oil and chicken in the queue.”
Nabavian answered, “The monthly oil consumption in the country is 350,000 tons, and we have injected 170,000 more than the people’s requirements into the market,” adding, “The outcome of the JCPOA are long queues for chicken and oil.”
Khamenei and his faction can get away with this kind of hypocrisy because of the principle of absolute rule. As Supreme Leader, Khamenei has authority over every branch of government. He and his Guardian Council can prohibit candidates from running for office and can fire government officials at will. He can order the execution of anyone who displeases him. He can privately endorse a deal with a Western country and then publicly condemn it when it doesn’t go well. No reformer can or will ever change that.
The change will only come with the end of the regime as a whole. The MEK is a viable democratic alternative to the mullahs’ regime and stands ready to represent the Iranian people.