Critics of President Ebrahim Raisi are asking for evidence of economic achievements that state media repeatedly claim amid continued unrest in the country.
“Do pro-government media aim to reassure the public with such coordinated news dissemination?” a commentary in Jomhouri Eslami (Islamic Republic) daily asked Thursday.
“If so, they are badly mistaken,” the commentary said arguing that the current minimum living conditions fails to meet the standards of living before the current administration took power.
Amid protests that have engulfed the country in the past two months, the state and pro-Raisi media including the state broadcaster (IRIB) are constantly claiming that the government has succeeded in bypassing US sanctions, is selling more oil, has improved the economy, has better relations with neighboring countries, and is making greater scientific and military strides.
“The discrepancy between the real situation with what government officials say is totally tangible … Quasi-state media’s disregard of this fact can cause social breakdown,” the commentary said.
The paper went on to demand answers for a host of questions pertaining to such achievements including claims about a drop in the inflation rate and success in thwarting the effects of US sanctions through membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which Raisi has repeatedly called one of his government’s achievements.
Editor of "Islamic Republic' newspaper, Masih Mohajeri
“What’s the reason for the hike in the price of staples and other essential commodities given that pro-government newspapers constantly run headlines about inflation dropping?” the article asked.
Jomhouri Eslami is one of the oldest newspapers in the Islamic Republic and like the ultra-hardliner Kayhan daily receives funding from the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office.
However, unlike the firebrand editor of Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Jomhouri Eslami, Masih Mohajeri, has maintained a degree of political independence over the years and often criticizes hardliners. In May, he called on Raisi to resign for failing to deliver on promises of improving the lives of Iranians.
The list of Raisi’s unfulfilled campaign promises seems quite long. He pledged to build one million affordable housing units for sale during each year of his term in office, bring down inflation, provide fast internet and unrestricted social media, and mend relations with neighboring countries including old-time rival Saudi Arabia.
Raisi blames foreign powers and “enemies” for thwarting his plans, but this does not seem to convince anyone apart from his allies.
“Thank you for delivering on your promises of bridling the inflation and strengthening the national currency! Never mind the promises of [affordable] housing …,” the former governor of the Central Bank of Iran and election rival Abdolnaser Hemmati told Raisi in a tweet Tuesday.
As evidence of Raisi’s failure, Hemmati said point-to-point inflation has risen from 34.7 percent in the beginning of the Iranian calendar year [March 21] to 48.1 percent, the rial has dropped in value against the dollar from 262,000 rials to the dollar to 354,000 and printing money has increased by 3.2 percent only from September 23 to October 22.
Even many conservatives admit that the Raisi government is just inept and cannot organize any project, but few can say that continuing US sanctions on Iran is the main reason for so much economic failures. That would mean criticizing the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who is responsible for all major foreign policy decisions.