Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on January 1, 2022

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on January 1, 2022

IRGC General Says Some Blame Khamenei For Iran’s Economic Woes

5/15/2022

As street protests enter their second week, Iranian politicians and military men are offering their insights about the economic crisis and rapid price hikes.

Food prices that doubled and tripled in recent days triggered the unrest that have turned into fierce anti-government protests in many parts of the country.

Most of the explanations target the previous government or President Ebrahim Raisi's lack of an economic policy. But in a different analysis to explain the crisis that has brought thousands into the streets, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Yadollah Javani lashed out at government's critics, saying that some people are gradually blaming Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the economic problems, because he does not allow negotiations with the United States.

This is the first time an official of Javani's calibre acknowledges the debate about Khamenei's responsibility for the diplomatic deadlock, which has led to the country's biggest economic problems in modern history.

However, during the past weeks Javani happened to lose a lot of his credibility after he was implicated in an alleged espionage or infiltration case involving a foreign woman who had penetrated Khamenei's inner circle and even posted two dozen articles on his official website. Therefore, his comments will be likely taken as an attempt to appease Khamenei to redeem his trust.

Better Diplomacy

Over the weekend, Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of Rouhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic criticized the Raisi administration for failing to tackle the diplomatic impasse that has been preventing an economic breakthrough since the 2018 US pull-out from JCPOA, the nuclear deal with Iran.

The young Khomeini, an aspiring political figure who has often been criticized for wasting trillions of rials on developing a large complex housing his grandfather's tomb, said a good team of diplomats should have been able to solve the problem with the United States or at least open a new path “within 24 hours.”

Lack of trust

Former communication minister and presidential election hopeful Mohammad Gharazi said the root-cause of the unrest is that Iranians do not trust the government. Gharazi added that President Ebrahim Raisi knows better than everyone else that Iran's economic problems have worsened since he took office in August 2021.

Gharazi argued that the Raisi administration has not been able to convince the Iranian society that he is doing the right thing to help them.

Raisi, who recently stopped an annual $15-20 billion food import subsidy, argues that he is reforming the economy to prevent corruption, and there will be no gain without pain.

Nonetheless, some of Raisi's supporters such as conservative lawmaker Reza Taghipour, a former aide of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad keep blaming former President Hassan Rouhani for country's current problems without mentioning why the new government has not been able to fix the problems after 10 months.

Famine on the way

In another development, reformist politician Mohammad Ali Abtahi criticized state-owned media for justifying the Raisi administration's failure, saying that "It is wrong to pretend that the entire Iranian society is happy about the way the administration has manipulated the subsidy system." Abtahi said that state-owned media's approach during the past week has been provocative.

During the week, the state-owned television and Khamemnei-affiliated Kayhan newspaper have been supporting Raisi's policy and not only ignoring, but also attacking and belittling the protests.

In the meantime, conservative political analyst Mehdi Ayati said in an interview with Nameh News, close to former Intelligence Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi that "a famine will be on its way in Iran if food rationing does not start as soon as possible."

News Summary
Emrouz
Economics Daily

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