While Rouhani and his administration keep warning of the necessity to tighten the belts further, the Supreme Leader and his commissars are singing an entirely different tune, they want Iran's population to double. Iran's handpicked lawmakers who have had to go through the rigorous pre-selection by the unelected Guardian Council are intent on banning vasectomies, condoms and other birth control measures.
Any sane person would shake his head in disbelief at this paradox, How can doubling the population at a time when Iranians are told to either tighten their belts or face an economic abyss, make sense? Where is the money to support and sustain thispopulation explosion going to come from?
Clerics appearing on state TV curse the previous birth control programs.
They tell the faithful viewers “for the love of the holy Zahra and for the love of Imam Ali, the prince of the faithful, save yourselves from this ominous culture of one child or two children nonsense ” one cleric tells the viewers.
He encourages them to choose an auspicious Shiite number for the number of children they should have. “Have five children as in the Five of the Purest, or eight children as in the eighth Imam of the Shiites, the holy Imam Reza, the only Shiite Imam buried in Iran, or have twelve children in the name of the twelve Shiite Imams or fourteen in the names of the 'fourteen sinless' “
Imagine if every Iranian couple listened and had fourteen children in the names of the “Fourteen sinless”! - by the way only one of the fourteen sinless is a female!
So what is the cause of this madness? Is it simply yet another sign of sheer ignorance by the mullahs? Is it as some have suggested to make sure there are enough Shiite soldiers to fight a holy war? Are they expecting a holy war soon and fear being outnumbered? A cartoon by the exiled Iranian cartoonist, Mana Neystani, showing a Shiite combatant holding his wife like a rocket propelled grenade launcher firing children at the enemy through her legs went viral in the Iranian cyber space.
Or is this all simply a way to continue survival for the mullahs, as it is often the reason behind their mad policies? One thing ideological dictatorships hate most is a thriving middle class. An affluent middle class is moderate and shuns extremism, it is liberal minded and wants to be part of the mainstream world. The thing that worries the mullahs most is the striking contrast between themselves and the population. Anyone who travels to Iran can notice this contrast. This is a regime which does not represent the population. The two seem to be on different parallel universes. By keeping Iran's middle class a small minority, the mullahs will be able to rely on a poor majority which are easier to manipulate and easier to string along with meagre hand outs.
The declining Iranian middle class and its tragic consequences which will limit Iran's economic revival is an issue that the renowned Iranian economist, Mohsen Ranani often writes about. He refers to the systematic destruction of Iran's middle class as “historic treason”.
Ranani fears an increasing polarised class divide in Iran, a very rich small minority and a majority below the poverty line population.
Ranani wrote before Rouhani's second phase of targeted subsidy removals, “A bench test for the health of the Iranian middle class, is to see how many people will not bother to register to receive the cash handout program. If the number of those who did not register for the cash handout program is below five million, it means we have gone back to a pre-developing country period and we should be prepared for unpredictable social storms”
Less than 3 million Iranians, at the end, decided not to register for the cash hand out program