Monday, March 30, 2020

Iran Blames Coronavirus On U.S. - Will They 'Respond' ?

What Iran’s severe virus crisis might mean for its threat to the region

The confluence of hard-hitting sanctions on the country and Iran’s floundering theocracy frustrated an adequate response to the pandemic, according to most accounts, but the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, knows who to blame: Genies. And Americans.
Khamenei’s March 22 speech marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year, has spooked regime watchers inside and outside the country. He blamed the pandemic on the demons identified in the Quran as “Jinn,” known as genies in Western lore, and the American intelligence services working in tandem.

“We have jinn and human enemies that help each other,” he said, according to a translation by Maryam Sinaiee, a British-Iranian political analyst writing for Radio Farda, the US government’s Persian language news service. 

“The intelligence services of many countries work together against us.”
Among these, he said, was the “most evil enemy of the Islamic Republic” — the United States.
It’s an alarming prospect: If Khamenei truly believes that the CIA is working hand in hand with demons to engage in biowarfare against Iran, he may see fit to respond in kind. And any response would likely bring in Israel, the closest American ally in the region.

It’s a manifestation of what Ali Vaez, the Iran Project director for the International Crisis Group, called “crisis therapy.” Iran historically, faced with internal upheaval, creates an external crisis as a distraction.
“The reality is that a regime under siege from all sides and that has no exit ramp might calculate that it has little to lose and a confrontation with the US would be a good distraction,” Vaez told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The stakes are higher with Iran, given how besieged the regime is — a number of its leaders have contracted the virus and at least one has died — and the theocracy’s history of acting on the religious dictates of its leaders.
“The Iranians as a result of the combined impact of sanctions and the coronavirus are under tremendous economic duress,” Vaez said. “If they had any cushion that could keep them afloat until the US elections,” when Trump’s potential departure might ease sanctions pressure, “that has evaporated.”

Here are some takes on how Iran’s coronavirus-induced aggression might manifest, how it might not and what can be done to mitigate it.

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