This seems at odds with the promise of a new era of moderation in Iran, but Reuters reported comments he made this week, that were posted on the Twitter account of Khat-e Hezbollah newspaper, a publication affiliated with his official website. He said, “With the issue of the nuclear negotiations, I made a mistake in permitting our foreign minister to speak with them. It was a loss for us.”
He confirmed that he has banned any future discussions with the U.S. “I ban holding any talks with America,” Khamenei said. “America never remains loyal to its promises in talks…just gives empty words.”
Khamenei has made any idea that Rouhani’s administration has been a success for the regime, unlikely at best. Khamenei has effectively blamed Rouhani in an attempt to distance himself from the crippled economy and the massive protests sweeping the country, where the Iranian people’s voices can be heard chanting, “Death to Khamenei.”
In regards moderation, this idea is absurd, as well. Rouhani has overseen Iran’s involvement in wars in Syria and Yemen, major crackdowns on political dissenters, an escalation in the use of the death penalty, and a slumping economy due to corruption and mismanagement within his government.
The new sanctions that follow U.S. President Trump’s exit from the nuclear agreement target Iranian purchases of U.S. dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and its auto sector. The toughest measures that target oil exports take effect next November.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Rouhani himself said, “America itself took actions which destroyed the conditions for negotiation,” and added, “There were conditions for negotiation and we were negotiating. They destroyed the bridge themselves. If you’re telling the truth then come now and build the bridge again.”
But, as the economy continues to spiral downwards, the regime may be unable to save itself, no matter who it blames.
Fluctuations in the local forex market in the past four months have tripled the number of applications for import licenses worth $250 billion dollars. Import applications are requests made by importers to receive cheaper, subsidized dollars, or other hard currencies from the government.
Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mines and Business, Mohammad Shariatmadari described the figure as “unbelievable” and says that a “number of” profiteering individuals are trying to “fish in troubled waters”, referring to the current currency and economic crisis. The figure of $250 billion is almost triple of Iran’s annual oil income according to Radio Farda.
The dollar’s official rate has been fixed at 42,000 rials via Rouhani’s new forex policy, which has encouraged scores of individuals and companies to apply for import licenses, and to receive millions of subsidized dollars.
An example of how companies can profit from this is in the telecommunications market, an industry controlled by the regime’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Certain companies received foreign currency at the official subsidized rate of 42,000 rials to a single U.S. dollar to import cellphones. They then sold them at the black-market rate of 100,000 rials to the dollar.
The anger of the Iranian people is reaching a critical point. It is one of the most significant threats to the regime in the history of the Islamic state. Khamenei’s attempts to scapegoat Trump or Rouhani are just attempts to divert attention from himself.
State TV quoted Khamenei as saying, “More than the sanctions, economic mismanagement (by the government) is putting pressure on ordinary Iranians… I do not call it betrayal but a huge mistake in management,” in an accusation that Rouhani is doing little to curb mismanagement of the economy.
Even the Iran lobby’s Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a Princeton University researcher and former Iranian regime official said in an interview in Tehran Times, “The Iranian economy is under many, many difficulties like corruption, like dysfunctionality, like smuggling, like inflation and they have a lot of problems. This has been problem since 1979 when Saddam invaded Iran, Iran had eight years of war, and after war, the U.S. pushed for many, many sanctions against Iran. However, I believe at least 50 percent of the Iranian domestic economic problem is not because of the sanctions. They are because of the domestic dysfunctionality of different system, but this is the government or other system.” He added, “Therefore, if Iran is going to resist the sanctions, they would need to address the dysfunctionalities of their own system. Therefore, this is one reality about dysfunctionality of Iranian domestic economic system.”