Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 17
By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:
For about forty years, since 1979 Islamic Revolution occurred, Iran has been walking on the razor's edge. Adverse foreign-policy environment and continuous outside pressure have taught the country’s leadership to perfectly respond to frequently rising challenges and take carefully weighed and in-time decisions.
It looks like a Tetris game, where Iran successfully manages to stack falling pieces down and avoids depriving itself of free space even when the fall accelerates.
However, it concerns, for the most part, international issues unlike domestic problems that arise from time to time. This, for instance, became apparent after the recent devastating earthquake on the Iran-Iraq border.
The earthquake hit large parts of Iraq and Iran. The epicenter was in the southwest of the Iraqi city of Halabja, but the highest casualties occurred in Iran’s Kermanshah province. According to the latest official data, more than 530 people have been killed and over 7400 people injured in western Iran. In Iraq the total number of deaths made 11 with 130 injured.
Undoubtedly, special emergency and civilian teams together with mobile brigades of medical aid have done and are doing their best to alleviate suffering those got injured in the quake-hit area.
Soon after the quake occurred, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a message calling on all Iranian officials and institutions to “rush to the aid of those affected in these early hours [after the incident]”.
President Hassan Rouhani also issued necessary directives to facilitate and accelerate rescue operations. All high-ranking officials, concerned about the issue, arrived to the spot at once.
But while on the individual level everyone displayed selflessness and exertion regarding people’s rescue, the system management has raised unpleasant questions.
A large number of apartments that were destroyed and damaged in the earthquake were built under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who initiated the Mehr Housing Scheme - a major plan to provide low-cost housing across the country. The initiative has long faced many criticisms for the quality of construction, al-Monitor reported.
After taking office in 2013, President Rouhani, who was among the critics of the plan, said that despite his opposition he was committed to complete construction.
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi also attacked the scheme, calling it an “absurd plan” with negative effects on Iran’s economy.
Reformist-directed newspapers strictly criticized the ‘scheme’, saying that it was precisely the example of mismanagement of an administration that sought to announce at any price that it had been in favor of poor people, and that Ahmadinejad and all the people involved in construction including contractors must be put on trial.
Factual evidence: guess which of the buildings has been constructed under the Mehr Housing Scheme
Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Hamed Mazaherian told Shargh Nov. 14 that this is only the beginning of the problems of the “Mehr Housing Scheme” and that other social, cultural and economic dimensions of these problems will surface in the following years, al-Monitor reported.
Also, many people suffered from hypothermia during the night after the quake as temperature drops sharply at night hours in the region and there were not sufficient quantities of warm blankets at hand, in addition to hot meal provision that has not been organized promptly.
Finally, there was a problem with ambulances.
“Unfortunately we faced the lack of ambulances at the moment for transportation of the injured people from the earthquake-hit areas,” Governor General of Kermanshah Province told Tasnim News Agency.
Users on social networks also noted the issue of lack of ambulances.
The image above shows that while Iran at one point was capable of discharging 800 ambulances for pilgrims on their route to holy shrines in Iraq (Arbaeen rally), it was unable to provide enough of ambulances to respond to an unforeseen contingency – the devastating quake in its backyard.
Iran could direct its unflagging energy and its money to achieve outstanding economic results including creation of an excellent homeland emergency response system but it doesn’t.
The story reminded me the former Soviet Union, which used to provide its ideological allies like Vietnam, Nicaragua, Angola etc. with billions of US dollars and great lots of weaponry to resist American imperialism, having at the same time no meat and butter on the shelves of its shops.