Iran earthquake reveals regime’s inaction, incompetence
Exhausted and exposed to freezing cold, survivors continued to seek food and shelter days after the quake, with little or no government support. “We are hungry. We are cold. We are homeless. We are alone in this world,” a weeping survivor, who lost 10 members of her family in the hardest-hit town of Sarpol-e Zahab, told Reuters. “My home is now a pile of mud and broken tiles. I slept in the park last night. It is cold and I am scared.”
The scale of the disaster is extensive. Sadly, people did not just die from the quake. Many died later due to lack of relief efforts and horrendous mismanagement. Many injured people died due to insufficient care at hospitals, and lack of blood supply or even serum injections. Several froze to death after becoming homeless, three children and a woman among them.
Meanwhile, the regime’s suppressive forces have prevented the arrival of aid to Sarpol-e-Zahab, and have confiscated donations from trucks and vehicles. Most of the aid that is getting to the region comes from individuals, not the regime, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
“No state-run enterprise is helping. People are helping people,” said Ayasheh Karami, 60, standing amid the ruins of her house, the LA Times reported. Regime forces are confiscating and selling items such as water, tents and food at a profit. Worse, Tehran is refusing international help for the region.
Iran is no stranger to earthquakes. More than 26,000 people were killed by one in 2003 in the southeast. In 1990, more than 50,000 died when a 7.4-magnitude quake struck the northwest. That means any government in Iran should by now have the competence and expertise to deal with such recurring disasters. In Japan, for example, effective policies have been put into place to protect citizens against quakes.
But the Iranian regime puts its own security and survival before the welfare of the people. Authorities spend much of their time intimidating and executing people, while usurping national wealth and channeling it to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to pay for terrorist proxies and regional designs.
Poor construction practices and negligent behavior by affordable-housing schemes also put residents at risk. Shoddy construction led to a higher number of casualties from the recent quake, Reuters reported.
The latest natural disaster to hit Iran is a reminder to the international community that the country’s people are deeply distrustful of the regime, which is seen as plundering national wealth instead of focusing on their wellbeing.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The IRGC, other suppressive forces and the main state broadcaster continue to provide a different image of the situation, giving the impression that everything is under control. But the reality is grim. A man in Ali Abad village said despite official media reports, no one has arrived to help the residents.
“Only the people of other cities, like Paveh, Sanandaj, Marivan and Ilam, have come to our aid,” he said, adding: “Death to the regime and its Qods Force.” Other residents say if Kermanshah was an Arab region like Lebanon or Gaza, the regime would have rushed to help in anticipation of recruiting forces and currying favor for its terrorist proxies and operations.
The dire situation in western Iran is another reminder that the regime does not care about the Iranian people. It also reminds the international community that the people are deeply disgusted and distrustful of the regime, which is seen as plundering national wealth and focusing on its own survival.
It is time that the regime is held to account for its inhumane actions against the people of Iran and the region. Tehran puts terrorism, its nuclear program and executions first. It should be confronted, not engaged.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh