Iranians were still reeling from reports that the regime had given a part of the Caspian Sea to the Russians, transferred the authority of the southern port of Qeshm to the Chinese and had auctioned off Chabahar port in southeastern Iran when another report made headlines last week; The donation Mount Damavand to an organization that operates under the direct supervision of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
According to a July 26 report by the state-affiliated Hamshahri Daily, an official title deed has been issued to Iran’s Endowments Organization for one-eleventh of Mount Damavand and the slopes leading to the summit.
“An endowment deed has been issued for a part of Mount Damavand, Iran’s most important natural heritage site,” the daily wrote.
With a height of 5,610 meters above sea level, Mount Damavand is the highest peak in Iran. The Mountain, which holds a deep symbolic value for Iranians, is a source of national pride as the scene of some of the events of the national epic poem, the Shahnameh, or the Book of Kings written by renowned Persian poet Ferdowsi in the 11th century.
Hamshahri compared Mount Damavand to a cake with 11 pieces and said that the 11th piece of the cake was now owned by the Endowments Organization after Iran’s Supreme Court agreed to the donation.
Iran’s Endowments Organization
Iran’s Endowments Organization is one of many entities affiliated with Khamenei’s inner circle. The head of the Organization is appointed by Khamenei himself. The Organization oversees shrines and holy sites and appoints clerics in charge of the endowments it acquires.
Endowments are supposed to be used for humanitarian causes such as providing shelter for the needy. But considering Khamenei’s notorious history of stealing national wealth for personal power and riches, most believe that Mount Damavand is yet another addition to the Supreme Leader’s fortunes.
Mohammad Rajab Ali Pisheh, an official at the Natural Resources Office of Mazandaran Province told Hamshahri that the Supreme Court ruling had been issued without consulting the Forests and Pastures Organization.
“The issue of Damavand Peak has been on our agenda since 2019. Out of 11 parts that are connected to the mountain’s peak, ten have been recognized and registered. The Endowments Organization has been granted the possession of the remaining part by Iran’s supreme court,” he told Hamshahri.
Considering the clerics’ enormous appetite for land grabbing, it is not unheard of for Iran’s Endowments Organization to push for the possession of part of Iran’s most famous landmark. However, it is hard to believe that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the push.
The Endowments Organization has dismissed the issuance of the title deed and said on Sunday that only a pasture at the foot of the mountain, known as Malar, and not part of the summit, has been donated.
A history of land grabs
Land grabs by the Khamenei-affiliated Endowments Organization are not unprecedented. One week before reports of Mount Damavand’s endowment, Iran’s Supreme Court ruled out a complaint by the Natural Resources Office and handed over the title of 5,600 hectares of forest lands in the Agh Mashhad region in Sari, northern Iran, to be utilized by the Endowments Organization.
Though the regime has kept the name of the landowner under wraps, many Iranians believe that it has been given to Sari’s head of Friday Prayers to be used for development and building villas. All Iranian cities have a Friday Prayer Imam who traditionally heads Friday Prayers and represents the Supreme Leader.
The regime’s desperation
During a televised meeting today, Iran’s President Rouhani dismissed reports of the endowments, calling them “rumors” spread by the “enemies”.
These remarks are reminiscent of constant deceptions by Iran’s leaders to cover up their desperate measures for income and survival.
Instead of utilizing the funds in his billion-dollar empire and that of other corrupt government officials for economic relief, the Supreme Leader is auctioning off Iran’s national assets and resources to its tight inner circles and allied countries to avoid the inevitable; the demise of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Selling off Iran’s natural resources, including part of Mount Damavand, is the regime’s way of creating a source of financial income. The money will undoubtedly be used for internal suppression and support for terrorist groups; two of the regime’s long-term strategies for survival.