In a damning report on October 4, the semi-official Tejarat News website revealed that the disadvantage of 11 days of the internet shutdown in Iran is equivalent to the country’s entire oil revenue of 2021. At the same time, authorities have claimed that U.S. sanctions are the primary reason for the country’s dire economy.
The website wrote, “In mid-September, the internet was cut off in Iran. Netblocks—the global internet’s observatory body—has declared that every hour of internet shutdown in Iran costs $1.5 million in financial disadvantage, 450 billion rials, to the country, meaning 10 trillion rials per day, and 110 trillion rials in the past 11 days.”
To have a better understanding, it is worth noting that Iran’s total oil revenue in 2021 was around 100 trillion rials. Therefore, an 11-day internet cut-off far exceeded, and destroyed the country’s oil revenue in a year.
Tejarat News added, “Furthermore, the internet blackout affected the business of many people. According to several reports, at least one million occupations have been created on Instagram alone.”
The Online Businesses Union secretary Reza Olfat-Nasab provided surprising stats, saying that “The livelihood of ten million citizens is currently dependent on cyberspace.”
On October 4. the Etemad daily wrote, “Now, the internet shutdown has aimed at this group’s business and livelihood, and they do not know even would resume internet access again or not, would filtering lift or not?”
Online Businesses Under Systematic Corruption
In September 2021, Etemad quoted the Statistic Centre of Iran as saying, “The business of 11 million Iranians depends on the social network; 83 percent of online businesses are on Instagram.”
Indeed, online occupations are the outcome of a sick economy. Contrary to other developed nations, Iran is suffering greatly from a lack of industrial infrastructure. The government’s mismanagement and profiteering policies have eliminated any chance for agricultural, agro-industrial, and industrial growth.
In this respect, online businesses are highly fragile in Iran, and the government’s oppressive measures, in a bid to counter public grievances, threaten the livelihood of millions of families. Remarkably, the parliament had long debates about censorship of social media in September 2021, which turned out futile, fearing public backlash.
On December 9, 2013, the Revolutionary Guards’ first chief-in-command Javad Mansouri refused former president Hassan Rouhani’s brags about negotiating with the West and refining the financial situation, stating, “Our country’s conditions would not improve, and our problems won’t be resolved.”
Mentioning that not even the nuclear deal with the world powers would not solve the government’s dilemmas, Mansouri said, “The core of our [economic] difficulties are internal. If Iran’s sky rained gold, but we don’t enjoy meritocracy and the rule of law… our situation won’t be changed.”
Notably, high-ranking officials in Iran, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, President Raisi, Parliament Speaker Qalibaf, and Foreign Affairs Minister Amir-Abdollahian, among others, ceaselessly blame the U.S. and its allies for ‘unjust’ sanctions. They claim the restrictions endanger the lives of Iranian patients—while former Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi has already rejected claims about sanctions on medicine and food.
Nevertheless, authorities in Iran have deliberately ignored the reality that shutting down the internet has significantly harmed the country’s economy. Their bloody response to peaceful demonstrators, and cutting Iran off from the outside world, has once again proven that the theocratic state ruling Iran does not care about the people, their livelihoods, businesses, national interests, or the economy.
The behavior of the regime’s mullahs should sound alarms for the U.S. and other signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that lifting sanctions or economic incitements is not Tehran’s priority. The world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism is lengthening nuclear negotiations to acquire at least one nuclear weapon, reaching an unbacked point.
Furthermore, as former President Hassan Rouhani and his allies bragged about the JCPOA, the nuclear deal and its privileges did not benefit the people of Iran. Instead, the government siphoned billions of dollars into the pockets of proxy groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah.
"#Hezbollah's budget, salaries, expenses, food & drink, weapons, and missiles come from the Islamic Republic of #Iran. Do you want more transparency?" said Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Lebanese Hezbollah in June 2016.pic.twitter.com/U9QHfpj7tb
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) September 23, 2020
The mullahs purely see the negotiation as a guarantee and political coverage for their illicit activities, which are not limited to their nuclear-bomb-making programs. These activities include warmongering, regional ambitions, terrorism, ballistic missile projects, and, more importantly, insurance for their brutal dictatorship inside the country.
In a nutshell, the international community, particularly the U.S., should stand with the people of Iran who refuse the theocracy’s policies entirely. An Iran free of authoritarian mullahs would be a reliable ally for the civilized world, which would lead countries in the Middle East and North Africa to stability and peace, rather than being left to face endless conflicts, bloodshed, insecurity, and terrorism.