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Iran Democracy Monitor - No. 148

Edited by Ilan Berman and Daniel Lee
May 19, 2014

Iran ranks as the "most miserable" Muslim majority state in the world, a new study by a prominent Washington think tank has found. According to the CATO Institute, widespread unemployment, poor lending conditions, rampant inflation, and poor overall health have made the Islamic Republic the most miserable country with a Muslim majority population. Iran ranked ahead of only Venezuela overall in global misery, and came in behind Egypt (where tourism revenue has fallen by 43 percent since 2011), the Palestinian Territories, and Turkey. (Baghdad Al-Arabiya, April 30, 2014) 

The Islamic Republic routinely executes people convicted of minor drug offenses. Yet a new, official study has found that an astounding 53 percent of all drug users in Iran are actually employed by government agencies and organizations. The findings were officially released at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences by Babak Dinparast, the Iranian Anti-Drug Agency's deputy director for Treatment and Prevention. Among the study's findings is the fact that as many as 703,000 federal workers are at least recreational drug users. (Al-Monitor, April 29, 2014) 


Because of mismanagement and misallocation of its water supplies, the Islamic Republic now faces what amounts to a "critical" shortage of water. Some 92 percent of water usage in Iran is currently allocated to agriculture, but efficient use has been complicated by cumbersome bureaucracy, inter-agency competition, and poor infrastructure planning. The result is what former Agriculture Minister Issa Kalantari has characterized as a "major threat to the country." (Al-Monitor, May 3, 2014) 


Iranian officials may be trying convince the world that it is safe to go back to "business as usual" with their regime, but problems in food supply and distribution to the Islamic Republic suggest that the situation is still anything but normal. A case in point is five ships with food cargo which current sit at anchor outside major Iranian ports, while Iran scrambles to find banks willing to do business so it can pay for the deliveries. Although the cargo is allowed under existing sanctions, banks remain fearful of doing any business that might land them in hot water with the U.S. or Europe. As a result, Iranian officials have found it difficult to secure lines of credit to finance humanitarian transactions, such as food purchases. (Reuters, May 10, 2014) 


Over the past three decades, the Iranian regime has made the development of unmanned aerial vehicles a major focus of its military industry, with considerable success. The Islamic Republic currently has an estimated two-dozen drone platforms at its disposal - including one ostensibly derived from a U.S. ScanEagle UAV captured in 2012. Of late, Tehran appears to be putting this expertise to use in support of its ally in Damascus. Over the past two years, experts say, the Iranian regime has provided both military and surveillance drones to the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad - technology that Assad has used to bolster his military stocks and harnessed in his fight against Syrian opposition forces. (The Daily Beast, May 14, 2014)

Related Categories: Iran Freedom Initiative; Iran

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