A former parliamentary leader in Iran says that refusing to directly negotiate with the United States is an “obvious mistake” and against national interests.
The outspoken politician Ali Motahari, who was deputy-speaker in the previous parliament, said refusal to directly engage with the United States is simply a “revolutionary gesture and against the national interest.”
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has banned direct talks with the United States and the current key foreign policy players appointed by President Ebrahim Raisi who took office in August are known as hardliners close to Khamenei’s office. In recent weeks, Iranian diplomats have been demanding the US free Iran’s frozen funds as a “goodwill gesture” before Iran shows flexibility.
Motahari in his tweet went on to say that “In these past few years it became clear that Russia, China and Europe” are not the critical actors. Addressing the hardliners, he wrote that if Qasem Soleimani’s assassination is the reason for refusing to directly negotiate with the US, the decision to punish the perpetrators remains in place.
Soleimani, who was Iran’s top military and intelligence operator in the Middle East was killed in a US drone strike ordered by former president Donald Trump on January 3, 2019.
As Iran has delayed rejoining the Vienna talks for five months its economic crisis has deepened with the national currency rial falling 20 percent since Raisi took office.
Economists and financial experts in Tehran say that uncertainty about the nuclear talks is the main reason why the rial is losing value against major currencies. On Friday, two economists told the Fararu website that for the stability of rial all major sanctions should be lifted, but in the meantime negative and ambiguous statements by Iranian officials dissipates confidence and leads to rial’s fall.
Reports say that demand for US dollars has increased in recent days as people take advantage of their annual prerogative to buy up to $2,000 from legal currency dealers.
There is also the issue of approving financial reform bills that have languished for more than three years. The international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has blacklisted Iran demanding legislation against money laundering and financing of terrorism. The designation by itself is enough to keep Iran’s banking relations with other countries restricted.
Iran has been spending from its currency reserves since US oil sanctions were imposed in 2018 and has resorted to printing money, which in turn has pushed inflation for essential goods to above 60 percent. Now, it planning to stop subsidizing food and medicine, which will push prices even higher, with all its political risk.
More and more public figures, including high-ranking clerics and politicians, such as Motahari, have been appealing to decision makers to speed up nuclear talks. Hardliners in charge of the government, on the other hand, are posturing to get more concessions from the United States.