“Our Bills Are Now 10 Times Higher”
While the Treasury sanctions do not target Iran directly, their effect on Iranian partnerships may contribute somewhat to the economic situation that has been causing unrest and discontent inside the country, leading even former defenders of President Rouhani to question his leadership.
Bloomberg News has taken a close look at some of the numbers involved in that economic situation. It reports that Rouhani’s effort to get citizens to voluntarily give up subsidies has failed, achieving only about a third of its projected sign-ups. Many individuals are unable to give up subsidies, even if they would have wanted to. One semi-anonymous Iranian said that “our bills are now 10 times higher than the aid we get.”
The ongoing economic difficulties have sparked talk of a worse recession and may put Rouhani in a very difficult situation if the problems continue. Bloomberg quotes a Sharif University economist as saying, “Any action the government may take to exit recession could fuel inflation, and any move to cut down on inflation might extend the recession.”
Still Sponsoring Terrorism
While Iran’s economic difficulties suggest that the US Treasury Department has the power to seriously affect internal stability through sanctions, a report released today by the State Department suggests that doing so may be in line with US interests. The report deals generally with the increase in global terrorism from al-Qaeda off-shoots and other groups. But it also specifies that Iran remains a sponsor of such terrorism, in light of its support for the Assad regime in Syrian and for Palestinian radicals. Furthermore, the report warns that Iran is still a threat to nuclear proliferation and has not been transparent about its nuclear program.
Weighing in on Regional Affairs
The State Department report marks one side in a duel of official statements that has characterized the last couple of days. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham delivered a televised speech on Tuesday commenting on the forthcoming presidential elections in war-torn Syria, Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and the conflict between Israel and Palestine.