The news that the US Treasury has now placed Iran’s Supreme Leader and his office — which runs pretty much most of the country’s affairs — on its sanctions list was a direct hit against the most sacred pillar of the Islamic Republic. Unlike many pundits who believe this was just a symbolic gesture, I think these may be the most painful sanctions that the US could impose against Khamenei and his cohorts. They are in control of the country’s mightiest financial institutions, with projects all over Iran and the world, and Iran’s most nefarious propaganda and disinformation campaigns are directed by different institutions working under the auspices of the Leader. The sanctions will affect many foundations and religious institutions that are in charge of different industries and finances. And yet the most immediate effect of sanctions may be felt by Iran-funded mosques and seminaries in Iraq, Afghanistan and in different Asian, African and European countries.
Khamenei’s mightiest tool is the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). It has been preparing for attacks by the US since 2001, when the US and its allies toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan. At the same time, especially since the protests across Iran in the early days of 2018, the IRGC has also been trying to find a way to nip any protests in the bud. Last week, IranWire had exclusive interviews with two members of different branches of the Basjj paramilitary group, which operates under the IRGC’s control. They told two IranWire citizen journalists inside Iran that in recent weeks the Guards and Basij have been given specific training to deal with internal unrest. It’s an important insight into the Guards’ public management tactics and shows that the Islamic government knows that the main danger against its survival are the people of Iran and not foreign enemies.
The shocking murder of an inmate in Fashafuyeh Prison continues to have reverberations, and another IranWire citizen journalist inside the prison gives an alarming account of sexual abuse and drugs in prison. We also spoke to the former cellmate of the murdered prisoner, who gave more details about the two men who killed the young man he knew as Saman. He says they killed him so they could be transferred to another prison and continue their lucrative business in phone scams. He spoke of prison guards’ negligence and responsibility for what happened. It’s yet further evidence of the rife corruption in Iran’s prisons, and it once again highlights that corruption is a part of every aspect of Iranian society.