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IRGC Commander Praising Khamenei Says US 'Incapable' Of Dealing With Pandemic

Chief of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hossein Salami speaks at a pro-government rally denouncing last week’s violent protests over a fuel price hike, in Tehran, November 25, 2019

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, says the United States is “incapable of controlling the coronavirus [pandemic] and is in the worst economic situation”, while “our great leader shined in dealing” with the virus.

This is the first time a major military figure in Iran is vocally singling out Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for praise in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Khamenei has been in total self-isolation since February when the first wave of the epidemic emerged in Iran. He has delivered a few speeches via television from his isolation venue.

Iran’s response to the health crisis has been haphazard and often unpredictable, as some measures to control the spread of the virus were coupled with a refusal to close religious sites in the first crucial weeks of the epidemic. The number of new cases remain high, between 2-3 thousand a day, four months after the outbreak with a sharp economic impact including more than a 15 percent fall in the value of Iran’s currency.

Salami also claimed no patient in the country was abandoned because of religious commitment to help everyone.

In fact, there were many reports in February and March of a disorganized effort to help those affected and a hospital system overwhelmed with serious cases.

Iran is in the tenth spot in the world with close to 180,000 cases and 8,500 officially registered COVID-19 deaths. However, many have said that the official numbers are an underestimation and the real toll is much higher. Iran’s own parliamentary research center and the Tehran City Council disputed the official figures in April.