At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Iranian officials were playing it down. They were dealing in conspiracy theories and disinformation and blamed the United States for spreading the virus, Middle East Fellow Ariane Tabatabai explained on an Atlantic Council webinar. Part of this was for political reasons; the country was nearing its parliamentary elections and wanted to encourage large voter-turnout. Now, however, different factions within the system are weaponizing the pandemic against each other. The IRGC, for example, is trying to undercut the Rouhani government’s efforts and paint themselves as the “competent, effective force” that can protect the public’s health, Tabatabai said. 

Atlantic Council

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