Greeting the coming Iranian New Year the Islamic Republic Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has released a video message saying the lesson he has learned from fighting the deadly coronavirus outbreak calls for the need to "reconstruct the system of governance" and to engage in "capacity building" for non-governmental organizations (NGOs.)
"Let me honestly tell you that fighting against coronavirus and [U.S.] sanctions requires mental cleansing on our part. Combating coronavirus taught us the necessity of renewing our method of governance," Zarif reiterated on the occasion of Nowruz, March 20.
Last December, an outspoken member of the Majles (parliament), Ms. Parvaneh Salahshouri, had attacked the system of Islamic governance in Iran, denouncing it as a "wild and rogue dictatorship."
In her speech Salahshouri had asserted that the concentration of power in "unelected bodies" in Iran was destroying the "republican nature of the system".
Salahshouri also blasted the existence of parallel and even multiple parallel entities that rule alongside the elected bodies and said parallel entities "get away with not taking responsibility" for their actions.
Furthermore, she bitterly criticized Iran's rulers for not seeing how much ordinary people suffer and failing to adjust their policies to address deep-rooted problems.
However, similar warnings and criticism have always fallen on deaf ears in the clergy-dominated Iran and Salahshouri was later summoned by the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Organization.
Zarif's insistence on building capacity for non-governmental organizations comes as the Islamic Republic has severely suppressed all NGOs in recent years, and instead has propped up regime-linked groups camouflaged as independent advocating groups and associations.
As recently as last September, 260 political and civil rights activists inside Iran lamented in a statement that pressure on social rights activists had intensified, and many protesters were sentenced to unbelievably long jail terms.
Ironically, all these pressures on Iranian activists have been exerted or supported by President Hassan Rouhani's administration and his cabinet ministers, including Mohammad Javad Zarif.
In the meantime, Zarif has grabbed the chance to lash out at Washington for the sanctions it has imposed on the Islamic Republic.
Zarif claimed that Washington’s sanctions are the sole cause of hampering Tehran's ability to fight the spread of coronavirus, making Iran more vulnerable than other countries.
"My country is among the hardest hit by the coronavirus," Zarif said, according to the Islamic Republic's official news agency, IRNA. "We are now learning how to better confront it--- sadly, a huge part of the danger Iranians face is due to the restrictions unjustly imposed on them by the United States government," Zarif claimed.
Responding to similar claims and accusations, Washington says that the Islamic Republic is using the sanctions as an excuse for its shortcomings and failures. It also insists that medical necessities and food are not sanctioned.
Some Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and IRGC Commander Hossein Salami have insisted that the outbreak could have been part of a biological attack against Iran, but they failed to explain why it started in China, and why most countries including the United States are also affected.
On Friday, March 13, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, responded to Khamenei's comment, saying, "As Khamenei knows, the best biological defense would've been to tell the Iranian people the truth about the Wuhan virus when it spread to Iran from China. Instead, he kept [IRGC-controlled] Mahan Air flights coming and going to the epicenter in China and jailed those who spoke out."
Pompeo was referring to an increasing number of arrests among journalists, social media activists and provincial health officials for disseminating information about Coronavirus fatalities.