News : Infighting

Iran: Illicit Trade and Internal Corruption

By INU staff

INU - Although partners like Russia have been there to help in the past, Iran currently doesn’t have to rely as much on illicit trade with these entities as it might in the event that nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 break down. The interim agreement with those powers ostensibly holds Iran to a maximum of one million barrels per day of oil exports until such time as a deal is signed. But in reality it has been permitted to get away with much more than that, in part because the Obama administration elected to not count exports of lighter oil condensates toward the total figure.

Now, the state affiliated Tasnim News Agency reports that these exports aren’t just up slightly to compensate for restrictions associated with the nuclear talks; they are up by 85 percent compared to the same six-month period last year.

Reports such as this apparently aim to paint a picture of serious economic growth under the administration of Hassan Rouhani. Naturally, though, not all of these claims are accurate. And the Iranian propaganda networks have other narratives that also help to mitigate the public’s perception of economic pain. Al-Monitor highlights this trend in its report on the conviction of former Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi on corruption charges.

Al-Monitor quotes a Tehran-based analyst as saying that such high-profile convictions, which usually carry light sentences, “let out some steam and… try and convince the public that the system is taking corruption seriously.” Furthermore, this strategy allows the current administration to put all blame for corruption and economic mismanagement in the past, even though evidence indicates that these are ongoing problems.

By calling attention to past corruption, the current administration is also able to advance the narrative that US-led sanctions are not working. Indeed, during the nuclear negotiating process, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has lauded Iran’s resistance economy as overcoming those sanctions, without acknowledging that they had been significantly alleviated by the American executive. The influx of unfrozen assets allowed Iran to proceed with development projects, for which Rouhani has personally taken credit.