Blame Game on Currency Crisis

Helia Ighani          

            Iran’s currency crisis has sparked deep divisions inside the regime. Top officials have blamed others in the Tehran government for mismanagement and irresponsible fiscal policies. The regime has countered by citing international sanctions for a role in the biggest economic crisis since the 1979 revolution.
            On October 5, Tehran’s legendary bazaar closed temporarily after the rial plummeted by 40 percent in a week. Iran’s currency had already halved in value over the previous year. The panic sparked public protests near the bazaar. The EU will also consider additional sanctions on Iran at an October 15 meeting.
            The following are excerpts of the rival groups’ responses to the mounting economic crisis.

Blaming the West

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
            “Right now in terms of the budget we are under pressure…in many places the budget has become zero or has been cut by 25 percent.” October 9
            “They lie when they say sanctions are pressure on the government…sanctions are always a pressure on nations… It's a rock that the enemy has thrown. So what we should do? We should pick up the rock and throw it at them.” October 3
            “We are not people to retreat on the nuclear issue. If somebody thinks they can pressure Iran, they are certainly wrong and they must correct their behavior.” October 2
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
            “The thought that the cause of the arrogant front’s enmity towards Iran is adopting certain stances or making certain decisions is wrong…The cause of all these pressures is the Iranian nation’s independent position and not bowing to the hegemonic system…despite international sanctions, the Islamic Republic has become stronger…
            “During the last 33 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been faced with a wide range of different political, security, military and economic pressure and sanctions, but the Iranian nation has defused these pressures and even grown more powerful through its resistance… The Iranian nation has and will never surrender to pressures and this has made the enemy furious.” October 3

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi
            “It’s not a big deal. The sanctions create inconveniences. For over 30 years now, we have been living with boycott measures that ultimately make us independent and strong… The Iranian society is used to living with hardships – perhaps more so than people in Spain and Greece. We can count on the patience of our people. What about you in Europe?” October 8, in an interview with a German newspaper, Der Spiegel

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts
            “The pressure today imposed on us by the world arrogance [the United States] is full-fledged economic war… This pressure will not last. Our people have been tested and they will not be worn down. Our people will ensure they [the enemies] are the ones worn down...
            “If the enemy acts stupidly and starts another war in the Persian Gulf, our response to the stupidity of the enemy and its allies will be so decisive that they will not have the chance to regret it... We do not want [to see] a flood of thousands of American soldiers going home from the Persian Gulf in coffins.” October 5, in a speech at the weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran
Blaming the Regime

Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani
            “80 percent of our economy’s issues and problems relate to management and incidentally the error imagined by Westerners is that because of sanctions they can provoke turbulence in our economy.” October 2

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts
            “Some of the pressure we see emanates from sanctions... mismanagement should not go unnoticed… The only path to solve these problems is cooperation between officials and the people…” October 5, in a speech at the weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran

Minister of Industries and Business Mehdi Ghazanfari
            “We have greater expectations that the security services will control the branches and sources of disruption in the exchange market. Brokers in the market are also pursuing the increase in price, because for them it will be profitable, and there is nobody to control them.” October 2, as reported by Fars News Agency
Ayatollah Seyed Yousef Tabatabai Nejad, the Supreme Leader’s representative in Isfahan
            “In my view only a small percentage of the economic problems and inflation is related to the enemy sanctions and the main reason is the erroneous economic policies…” October 5
Ayatollah Ahmad al Hoda, member of the Assembly of Experts from Mashhad
            “The day you took the votes.... did you know this country and its people are revolutionary? If you knew that you can't confront these problems and crises but told people you can, you have undoubtedly betrayed their rights.” October 5
Ezzatollah Yousefian, an Iranian legislator
            “The first approach today is that authorities accept their mistakes and failures, second, that they not blame their mistakes on others, and third, that they invite all the pundits and experts to find a way to solve the problems of the economy.” September 29

Helia Ighani is a graduate student at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
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