The Week in Review: April 24th – May 1st

Iran’s Ministry of Health said at least 6,091 people had now died from the virus in Iran, with the total number of diagnosed coronavirus cases reaching 95,646 inside the country, including 2,899 people in critical condition.

The number of deaths and those infected are disputed by health workers and experts in Iran who say the figures are likely to be much higher. A Tehran City Council member revealed that during the first two months of the coronavirus outbreak the overall death toll in Iran’s capital had increased by 3,700, compared with the same period last year, further raising concerns about the official COVID-19 figures.

The Iranian government relaxed lockdown regulations to allow some businesses to reopen. The move sparked criticism from Iran analysts who said the country’s coronavirus outbreak was still at a critical stage, with scores of deaths still being announced.

Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s militia arm, the Basij, arrested 3,600 individuals for “spreading rumors about coronavirus.” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said that rumors were a form of psychological war against Iran and warned that anyone engaging in rumor campaigns would be arrested.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would not allow Iran’s government to buy arms once the U.N. embargo came to an end in October. However, diplomats said that Washington would face a messy and protracted battle if it tried to pressure the United Nations into getting the Security Council to extend and strengthen an arms embargo on Tehran.

Pompeo also called on countries to ban overflight rights to Mahan Air, an Iranian airline sanctioned by the U.S., which he said had recently delivered cargoes of “unknown support” to the Venezuelan government.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the IRGC to make islands in the Persian Gulf habitable. The move is seen as a way to make Iran economically dynamic and to cement Iran’s presence in the region.

And Germany banned Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from conducting activities on German soil, after the country designated it a terrorist organization. Germany’s Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter announced the ban on April 30. The designation comes after German police carried out early morning raids in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen, and the capital, Berlin, leading to the detention of individuals suspected to be members of the group.

Our thoughts are with everyone in Iran, and around the world, affected by the outbreak.

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