Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi told the Iranian parliament this week that the country’s regional meddling, including prolonging the Syrian civil war and providing weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, have earned them the ire of the international community and the Iranian people. This anger has resulted in sanctions from the US in 2018 and mass protests across Iran for over a year.

Jahanabadi said: “Our influence in the region is important, but one point should not be forgotten, and that is, sometimes it is possible that unnecessary expenses can cripple us on Tehran’s streets.”

He continued: “When the Soviet Union collapsed, it had 13,000 nuclear warheads and had influence in more than 20 countries and a space station, but it was torn apart on the streets of Moscow, losing its security and territorial integrity. Today, people have difficulties making a living and feeding their children. If we fail to resolve the problem of unnecessary domestic and foreign expenditures, we will bear heavy costs.”

The sheer amount of Iranian money squandered on foreign wars and support of terrorism led Iranians worried about the economy, including those already unemployed or living in poverty, to take to the streets last year. These protests soon became political, with Iranians realising that the source of their problems was the mullahs.

Then, the economy was further rocked by US sanctions in August and November, imposed in part due to Iran’s meddling and the US anger that the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), did not cover issues like that.

Donald Trump said that the deal actually provided money to Iran so that the nation could expand its regional influence, which poses a threat to US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel. Thus, he pulled out of the nuclear deal in May and reimposed existing sanctions on Iran, as well as adding in some of his own.

This led the International Monetary Fund to predict a 3.5% fall in Iran’s GDP in 2019, as opposed to the 4% growth that was initially expected.
Jahanabadi said: “We should take care of our domestic needs. We need to find friends, reduce tensions and increase cooperation in the region and focus on the economy as our top priority.”