As recent reports show that Iran has suffered the highest amount of coronavirus related deaths outside of China, they are now being blamed for spreading the pandemic to other Muslim countries throughout the Middle East.
In a scathing report by the Jpost’s Seth Franzman, the middle east expert notes how as soon as an Iranian official revealed that the Islamic Republic has suffered 50 deaths from the virus, he was immediately censored by the regime. Tehran immediately ignored his announcement saying that only 12 have died.
But the Islamic Republic knew that there were more cases particularly concentrated in the holy Shia city of Qom Franzman notes. One reason for the lack of transparency was because Iran wanted their elections to go off without a hitch.
But the main failure to act focuses on Qom where a deputy health minister who opposes quarantines failed to isolate the city. He simply allowed the freeflow of travel in and out of it.
However, after Iranian Deputy Health Minister Iraj Hairichi and MP Mahmoud Sadeghi have been confirmed as contacting the virus, officials are now admitting that many others are sick as well. New cases in Gulf states such as Oman and Bahrain were discovered on Tuesday. Additionally, there are eight cases in Kuwait and six in Bahrain. – all linked to Iran.
Thanks to Iran’s gross negligence, the entire Middle East fears the coronavirus will reach their territory. This is what prompted neighboring countries Turkey and Afghanistan to close their borders with the Islamic Republic. Kuwait also closed its borders as well as its ports. The UAE this week halted tens of flights to Iran. Oman ended imports from Iran. Likewise, Bahrain is stopping flights from the UAE.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani still doesn’t seem to be taking the pandemic all that seriously comparing the virus to US sanctions: It seemed worse than it actually was.
Iran’s civilian population, whose massive protests highlight a deep distrust in the regime, are now demanding answers as the Islamic Republic struggles to supply its people with protective masks.
Iraq is also panicking. The ill-prepared neighbor of Iran has 20 people under observation in the city of Najaf. Protective “masks are out of date, ministry phone numbers don’t work, and the country is struggling to stop travel to Najaf and suspend travel to Iran,” Franzman writes.
This also puts Iraq in a pickle. That’s because according to Franzman, “Iran and Iraq are closely linked in religious issues, weapons trafficking, and trade. Cutting off these contacts is a major move. It comes at a bad time for Baghdad, after months of protests and with a new prime minister who lacks a government. In the Kurdistan region, there are long lines at gas stations as people fear borders will close.”
And in the meanwhile, Tehran seems to be in denial as Rouhani sees no difference between it and the flu who kills thousands in the US every year. Not cooperating in the regional effort to contain the virus isn’t helping much either.