So what’s goin’ on in Iran? How did the Islamic Republic really respond to Covid-19? How is it coping with Washington’s relentless “maximum pressure”?

伊朗到底发生了什么?伊斯兰共和国究竟如何应对Covid-19?它是如何应对华盛顿无情的 "极限施压 "的?

These questions were the subject of a long phone call I placed to Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran – one of Iran’s premier, globally recognized analysts.


As Marandi explains, “Iran after the revolution was all about social justice. It set up a very elaborate health care network, similar to Cuba’s, but with more funding. A large hospital network. When the coronavirus hit, the US was even preventing Iran to get test kits. Yet the system – not the private sector – managed. There was no full shutdown. Everything was under control. The numbers – even contested by the West – they do hold. Iran is now producing everything it needs, tests, face masks. None of the hospitals are full.”


Expanding Marandi’s observations, Tehran-based journalist Alireza Hashemi notes, “Iran’s wide primary healthcare system, comprising public clinics, health houses and health centers is available in thousands of cities and villages”, and that enabled the government to “easily offer basic services”.

驻德黑兰记者阿尔瓦雷扎哈什米扩大了马兰迪的观察范围,他指出,"伊朗广泛的初级医疗系统,包括公共诊所、卫生院和卫生中心,遍布数千个城市和乡村,这使得政府能够 "轻松地提供基本服务"。

As Hashemi details, “the Health Ministry established a Covid-19 call center and also distributed protective equipment supplied by relief providers. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the armed forces to help – with the government deploying 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to disinfect streets and public places, distribute sanitizers and masks and conduct tests.”

正如哈什米所详述的那样,“卫生部建立了一个新型冠状病毒肺炎呼叫中心,并分发了救援机构提供的保护设备,最高领袖阿亚图拉 · 哈梅内伊命令武装部队提供帮助——政府部署了30万士兵和志愿者,对街道和公共场所进行消毒,分发消毒剂和口罩,并进行检测。”

This sense of social solidarity is extremely powerful in Shi’ite culture. Hashemi notes that “the government loosened health-related restrictions over a month ago and we have been experiencing a small slice of normality in recent weeks.” Yet the fight is not over. As in the West, there are fears of a covid-19 second wave.

这种社会团结的意识在什叶派文化中是非常强大的,哈什米指出,“一个多月前,政府放松了与医疗相关的限制,最近几周,我们小部分的回归到正常状态 ”然而,战斗还没有结束,正如西方国家一样,人们担心会出现第二波新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情。

Hashemi adds a very important factor: “The Covid-19 crisis was so massive that people themselves have pitched in with effort, revealing new levels of solidarity. Individuals, civil society groups and others have set up a range of initiatives seeking to help the government and health workers on the front line of countering the pandemic.”

哈什米补充了一个非常重要的因素: “ 新型冠状病毒肺炎危机严重,人们也付出了努力,显示出团结的新水平,个人、民间社会团体和其他方面制定了一系列倡议,力求帮助身处抗击这一流行病一线的政府和卫生工作者。”

Made in Iran soars
Marandi’s analysis ties up the economic data. In early June, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht – responsible for planning Iran’s state budgets – told the Majlis (Parliament) that the new normal was “to sideline oil in the economy and run the country’s programs without oil.”

马兰迪的分析结合了经济数据。6月初,负责规划伊朗国家预算的穆罕默德 · 巴格尔 · 诺巴赫特告诉伊朗议会(Majlis) ,新的常态是“把石油排除在经济之外,在没有石油的情况下实施国家计划。”

Nobakht stuck to the numbers. Iran had earned just $8.9 billion from the sale of oil and related products in 2019-20, down from a peak of $119 billion less than a decade ago.


In 2019-20, Iran’s non-oil exports reached $41.3 billion. That exceeded oil exports for the first time in Iran’s post-revolutionary history. And roughly half of these non-oil exports were manufactured goods. Team Trump’s “maximum pressure” via sanctions may have led to total non-oil exports going down – but only by 7%. The total remains near historic highs.

2019-2020年,伊朗的非石油出口达到了413亿美元,伊朗革命后,历史上首次超过了石油出口,这些非石油出口中,大约有一半是制成品,特朗普政府通过制裁施加“极限压力”可能导致非石油出口总额下降——但只下降了7% ,总量仍然接近历史高位。

According to Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data published by the Iran Chamber of Commerce, private sector manufacturers were seriously back in business already in the first month following the relaxation of the partial lockdown.


Some new manufacturing clusters bode well for the future. Take titanium – essential for myriad applications in military, aerospace, marine industries and industrial processes. The Qara-Aghaj mine in Urmia, the provincial capital of West Azarbaijan, which is part of Iran’s mineral belt, including the country’s largest gold reserves, has tremendous potential.

新的制造业集群预示着美好的未来,以钛为例——钛在军事、航空航天、海洋工业和工业生产过程中的各种应用都是必不可少的,西阿扎尔拜詹省会 Urmia 的 Qara-Aghaj 矿是伊朗矿产带的一部分,包括该国最大的黄金储量,具有巨大的潜力。

Iran features in the Top 15 of mineral-rich countries. In January, after getting the technology for deep-level mining, Tehran launched a pilot project for extraction of rare earth minerals.
Still, Washington pressure remains as relentless as the Terminator.


In January, the White House issued yet another executive order targeting the “construction, mining, manufacturing, or textiles sectors of the Iranian economy.” So Team Trump is targeting exactly the booming private sector – which means, in practice, countless Iranian blue-collar workers and their families. This has nothing to do with forcing the Rouhani administration to say, “I can’t breathe”.


The Venezuelan front
Apart from a few scuffles between the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Health Ministry about China’s response to Covid-19, the Iran-China “comprehensive strategic partnership” (CSP) remains on track.

除了伊斯兰革命卫队(IRGC)与卫生部就中国应对新型冠状病毒肺炎的问题发生了一些争吵外,伊中 "全面战略伙伴关系"(CSP)仍在按部就班地进行。

China’s mission at the UN has stressed the obvious. The Trump administration unilaterally abandoned the JCPOA. Then it reimposed unilateral sanctions. Thus it has no right to extend the arms embargo or go for the snapback mechanism against Iran.


China, Russia and Iran are the three key nodes of Eurasia integration. Politically and diplomatically, their key decisions tend to be taken in concert. So it’s no wonder that was reiterated last week in Moscow at the meeting of Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Javad Zarif – who get along famously.


Lavrov said, “We will be doing everything so that no one can destroy these agreements. Washington has no right to punish Iran.”Zarif for his part described the whole juncture as “very dangerous”.

拉夫罗夫说: “我们将竭尽全力,不让任何人破坏这些协议,华盛顿无权惩罚伊朗。”
扎里夫则将整个转折点描述为 "非常危险"。

Still, Russia-China continue to back Iran on all fronts, for instance rebuking the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for giving in to US “bullying” – as the IAEA’s board last week passed a resolution submitted by France, Britain and Germany criticizing Iran for the first time since 2012.

不过,俄中还是继续在各条战线上支持伊朗,比如斥责国际原子能机构(IAEA)屈服于美国的 "威逼利诱"——国际原子能机构理事会上周通过了法国、英国和德国提交的决议,这是该机构自2012年以来首次批评伊朗。

Another key foreign policy front is Venezuela. Tehran’s soft power, in quite a spectacular manner keenly observed all across the Global South, de facto ridiculed Washington’s sanctions/blockade in its own Monroe Doctrine “backyard”, when five Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline successfully crossed the Atlantic and were received by a Venezuelan military escort of jets, helicopters, and naval patrols.

另一个关键的外交政策战线是委内瑞拉。德黑兰的软实力,以相当壮观的方式被整个全球南方敏锐地观察到,事实上在美国的 "后院 "嘲笑了华盛顿的制裁/封锁,当时五艘装载汽油的伊朗油轮成功穿越大西洋,并由委内瑞拉的战斗机、直升机和海军巡逻队组成的军队护航。

That was in fact a test run. The Oil Ministry in Tehran is already planning a round two of deliveries to Caracas, sending two or three cargos full of gasoline a month. That will also help Iran to offload its huge domestically produced fuel.


The historic initial shipment was characterized by both sides as part of a scientific and industrial cooperation, side by side with a “solidarity action”.

这一历史性的首次运输被双方定性为科学和工业合作的一部分,与 "团结行动 "并列。

And then, this past week, I finally confirmed it. The order came directly from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. In his own words: “The blockade must be broken”. The rest is – Global South – history in the making.

然后,在上周,我终于证实了这一点,该命令直接来自最高领袖阿亚图拉-哈梅内伊,用他自己的话说 "封锁必须被打破" ,剩下的就是--全球南方(注:指包括非洲国家、拉丁美洲以及亚洲大部分地区)--的历史正在形成。