Iran Politician Says Regime Might Have To Compromise On 'Principles' To Prevent Riots
A leading member of Iran's Expediency Council, conservative economist and former lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli says the Iranian people's trust in the country's government has never been as low as today in the past 40 years.
Tavakoli who was speaking at the Islamic Association of Independent Students, said on Thursday that statistics about poverty in Iran is "shocking". He added, "Let us not deceive ourselves. There is a significant amount of hunger and poverty in Iran." Tavakoli maintained that some 60 percent of Iran's population lives under the poverty line.
“When the Iranian parliament decided to distribute cash subsidies among the population, it categorized some 60 million people as those who are eligible to receive assistance. This means that 72 percent of the country's population are in need of financial help,” the former lawmaker said.
Meanwhile, Tavakoli insisted that the people's trust in the government has considerably declined and has reached an unprecedented low point.
"While we are discussing at the Expediency Council whether joining the FATF conventions against money laundering and financing terrors would lead to an improvement in the people's financial situation, it appears that the situation is so bad that we also need to compromise the primary rules of Islam and parts of the Constitutional Law."
"If the government fails to do that, things will happen that should not be taking place," Tavakoli said, alluding to the general belief that poor Iranians might take to the streets under financial pressure.
In 2018 and 2019 thousands of Iranians opposing the government's economic policies took to the streets and hundreds were killed in the ensuing protests and as many as 8,000 were put in jail by security forces.
During the past two days, many Iranian media outlets have described Tavakoli's remarks about Iran's economic situation as "shocking," however, they have published only fragments of what he said to the "independent" students who are hardline activists despite the title of their association. Hardline student unions, however, have leaked more of the contents of Tavakoli's speech in their gathering.
Warning about a revolt by the poor, Tavakoli has reportedly said the people may still not protest if the government behaves reasonably and assures the people of its good intentions. He said: "A benevolent government will have legitimacy and the people will listen to it," Tavakoli said, adding that still the government needs to offer financial; assistance to low-income Iranians. "I told the government that if they do not do that, they will have to face a revolt by the poor and hungry people," Tavakoli said.
"I would still say there is an increasing danger of such a revolt. The only thing that stops the poor people is the coronavirus pandemic," he added.
During the past weeks, hundreds of Iranian pensioners have taken to the streets defying government orders and social distancing rules protesting what they called "plundering of their pensions."
Based on the latest figures released by the government, the inflation rate in the past 12 months, compared to the same period in the previous year was 36.2 percent for urban families and 37.7 percent for rural households.
At the same time, rising prices have presented a daunting problem. According to lawmaker Mojtaba Yousefi, "the high prices of fruit, vegetables, power and water supply exert redoubled pressure on the Iranian people."