Veteran Newspaper Editor Blasts ‘Mafia’ For Profiteering in Iran
A long-established newspaper in Iran has published a scathing indictment of “a mafia consortium” for rising prices and the declining value of the national currency.
The Islamic Republic newspaper (Jomhouri-ye Eslami), established after the 1979 Revolution and enjoying close connections with the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is managed by Masih Mohajeri, a widely respected veteran cleric known for eschewing factions.
In an article published on November 14, the daily said: “We are not just facing a mafia, we are dealing with a mafia consortium that is tormenting the country.” The article went on to detect “two governments” in Iran, referring to well-resourced groups undermining the government of President Hassan Rouhani.
Mohajeri has generally supported Rouhani over his seven years as president, while opposing some actions or policies. Rouhani’s government has been widely criticized for failing to stabilize the economy and reduce the impact of crippling US sanctions. At the same time, many arrests in recent years have pointed to widespread corruption among officials, while some influential circles have been accused of preferring Iran to be under sanctions as they can profit as middle-men in opaque transactions.
Mohajeri in April demanded large enterprises operating under the aegis of Khamenei’s office and other “big financial powers,” including religious foundations, should alleviate “the hardships imposed on the poor” and “rescue the people” during the coronavirus pandemic. His newspaper in August also criticized officials who do not retire at 80, to which some politicians responded that Mohajeri – who is said to be 60 – had been the editor of the newspaper since 1981.
Large segments of Iran’s economy are dominated by state and quasi-state institutions, including the Leader’s office, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), pension funds, and religious foundations controlled by well-placed clerics.
In its latest article the Islamic Republic newspaper blamed the economic “mafia” for preventing efforts to reduce prices, including prices for medicine. The paper said groups who proclaimed themselves as revolutionaries were profiting from speculating in “the livelihood and necessities of the people” while selling goods at “whatever prices they wish.”
The newspaper called on authorities to extend “legal freedoms, especially in terms of” freedom of expression and print. This, it suggested, would help in standing up to “economic, political and propaganda mafias, who neutralize government policies and plans.”