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Opinion: Iran's Most Dangerous Virus is its Regime

While the coronavirus tore through Iran, including its elderly leadership, the regime focused on burying the truth. While leaders told people there was nothing to worry about, refusing to shut down public space, police were posted at hospitals to keep the medical staff from disclosing the true extent of the pandemic, and the Iranian health system’s inability to cope. The result is that the official number of confirmed infections is likely highly inaccurate. Some estimates suggest it is perhaps as high as 2 million. Amid its domestic troubles, Iran’s leaders have found time to launch propaganda and missile attacks against the United States. Iran’s proxies have thrice attacked U.S. bases in Iraq, killing two Americans and a Brit. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, meanwhile, used his national address marking the Persian new year to acknowledge the suffering caused by the pandemic, blame the United States, and refuse any international medical assistance. If the United States truly wants to help the Iranian people, it cannot strengthen the Iranian regime. If anything it should help delegitimize it, while demonstrating its friendship toward the Iranian people. American officials can work around, not through, the regime. The United States can coordinate with its European partners on a humanitarian relief and medical assistance package, conditioned on Iran allowing international organizations and aid groups — like the World Health Organization, Red Crescent and Doctors Without Borders — to deliver and administer the aid directly. This would circumvent the corruption and incompetence of the Iranian regime and ensure that the Iranian people receive the help they need and that they know who is providing it. Presented with such an offer, Iran’s regime will have to choose between opening its borders or publicly refusing to save its people. Iran’s most dangerous contagion is its regime. Lifting sanctions is not the cure. (VFI News)