President Ebrahim Raisi with Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani. Jan. 1, 2022

President Ebrahim Raisi with Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani on Friday.

Top Ayatollahs Tell President Iran Should End Isolation, Economic Crisis

1/2/2022

During his recent visit to Iran's religious center Qom, top Shiite clerics told President Ebrahim Raisi to end policies that have isolated Iran in the world.

The calls by top clerics came during the same week the Iranian parliament has been complaining about the Raisi administration's failure to mitigate the country's economic crisis.

Raisi spent two days this week in Qom where Iran's most senior ayatollahs and important clerical organizations, including the country's main seminary are located.

During his meetings with top clerics, Raisi has been reportedly seeking clerical endorsements for his government which is under attack by his political rivals as well as his allies at the parliament for failing to resolve the country's economic and foreign relations crises, as he had promised during his election campaign.

After five months in office, Raisi has not been able to address the dual crises. As the nuclear talks remain inconclusive, the impact of continuing US sanctions worsens Iran’s economic nightmare.

According to Khabar Online in Tehran, Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani called on Raisi during his meeting with him on Friday to send Iran's message of peace and friendship to the world. The grand ayatollah also called on Raisi to be careful about the appointments he makes, without mentioning criticisms by clerics and parliamentarians over nepotism in the Raisi administration.

Like all the clerics who met with Raisi in recent days, Safi Golpayegani also urged him to immediately deal with the economic crisis, which is impoverishing the middle class and leaving the working class in need of food.

Earlier, another prominent cleric in Qom Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi Amoli also told Raisi that "Iran must negotiate with the rest of the world because it cannot live in isolation."

He said, "No one can be trusted [fully] in the international community, but at the same time, no one is needless of negotiations and relations with other countries," adding "We have to negotiate with them and shake hands with them whether we want or not, but we have to count our fingers afterwards."

This was a reference to the refusal of the Islamic Republic to directly negotiate with the United States, instead of European and other mediators. Several well-known pundits also urged the government to start direct talks with Washington.

On Friday, a leading seminarian and a professor of economics at the University of Qom, Seyyed Kazem Rajaei, told Raisi during a meeting that "the people might night tell you in your face about how much they are suffering from the country's economic crisis, but they tell me in the streets that they are fed up with your inaction and slowness." He warned Raisi "the train of Iran's economy is running loose on a steep downward track and might soon fall to the bottom of the gorge."

He also warned Raisi about raising the price of gasoline, as Raisi has also talked with top clerics about a new scheme to increase fuel prices hoping to get the clerics' blessing, although at least one top cleric, Golpayegani warned him against such a measure.

Meanwhile three Iranian newspapers pointed out on Thursday that attacks by politicians and lawmakers on Raisi and his cabinet is getting sharper as it was during a session of parliament on Wednesday where only a last-minute intervention by Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf stopped an impeachment motion against economy Minister Ehsan Khanduzi.

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