In Brief

What really caused Iran’s economic crisis?

President blames US as he warns country faces toughest economic situation in 40 years

Iran’s president has blamed the United States for the country’s economic difficulties, which he said included the biggest pressures and sanctions in 40 years.

“Today our problems are primarily because of pressure from America and its followers. And the dutiful government and Islamic system should not be blamed,” said President Hassan Rouhani.

Last year Donald Trump controversially withdrew from the multilateral accord agreed by his predecessor which lifted international sanctions in return for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Since then, the US has re-imposed economic and oil sanctions, stifling any fiscal recovery.

The move “touched off a record drop in Iran’s currency, prompted an exodus of foreign firms, plunged the nation into a recession and renewed its economic isolation”, says The Times of Israel.

“Workers, including truck drivers, farmers and merchants, have since launched sporadic protests against economic hardships, which have occasionally led to confrontations with security forces,” reports Reuters.

Middle East Monitor, however, says US sanctions have merely compounded “years of mismanagement” in the economy.

“Real incomes have fallen, with inflation peaking at over 35%, compared with below 10% a year ago. Last month, the government reintroduced subsidies for basic foodstuffs in an attempt to ease the pressure on families, but as the costs of imported goods have risen, the government deficit has also increased,” says the news site.

There has been anger at continued spending on foreign proxy wars in the Middle East, while protesters have also targeted Rouhani personally after he staked his political credibility on the deal with the US, a country long known in Iran as “the Great Satan”.

In a bid to appease hardliners in the government, Rouhani, a moderate, has adopted a more bellicose tone towards the US in recent months, ironically playing into the White House’s narrative of an increasingly aggressive Iran.

The EU, China and Russia have denounced Trump’s decision to re-impose sanction, but “there have been some indications that European powers are also gravitating toward the US position”, says The Times of Israel.

“Iran’s recent work on launching satellites into space has faced criticism from the West as a possible effort to advance its missile program, since the rockets used in the two programs depend on very similar technology to work around the sanctions have failed to stop,” says the newspaper.

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