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Khamenei Demands Urgent Solutions for ‘Economic Setbacks’

Khamenei Demands Urgent Solutions for ‘Economic Setbacks’

Friday, 12 October, 2018 - 08:30
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei waves as he gives a speech on Iran's late leader Khomeini's death anniversary, in Tehran, Iran June 3, 2016. via REUTERS
London - Adil Al-Salmi
Racing the sands of time, Tehran is working hard to mitigate economic and social fallout expected after the second wave of US sanctions hits Iran. Taking effect in November 5, sanctions threaten the cleric-led country both internally and externally.

Denying prospects of total economic collapse, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told senior Iranian officials on Wednesday night that the Iranian economy was “intractable,” and called for serious and urgent solutions for hardships challenging lives of Iranians.

“We need extraordinary efforts ... to find solutions for those domestic economic challenges and to confront cruel American sanctions. Serious decisions should be made,” he said, state TV reported.

He pointed out to poor classes that are under increasing pressure.

“The soaring prices and the drop of purchasing power of those lower-income Iranians have put pressure on them,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei's official website quoted details of his meeting with President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Chief Justice Sadiq Larijani.

Agencies reported that Khamenei's meeting with senior Iranian officials lasted more than two and a half hours.

He called on government bodies to ease economic burdens, which were mainly caused by a plummeting national currency that lost up to 70 percent of its value.

Khamenei's orders come amid a fierce battle led by Rouhani's reformist government against alt-right conservatives over joining the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) before the end of October.

The move is a key condition for activating a joint mechanism for EU parties remaining in the nuclear deal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last Sunday that Tehran was under pressure from the remaining countries in the deal to take practical steps to counter against US sanctions.

The country’s reformists now wait in fear of the Guardian Council overturning three laws passed by the Iranian parliament allowing the country to join international bodies that monitor corruption and terror financing.

If Iran is successful in complying with international premises for combating terror funding, each of Britain, France and Germany will look at the possibility of persuading the US to take a more flexible stance with sanctions on Iran's banking system.

However, it remains unclear given that joining FATF will challenge the Revolutionary Guard’s foreign activities like supporting “Hezbollah” in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen and backing Syrian regime head Bashar al-Assad.

Both Rouhani and Larijani have established a Supreme Council of Economic Coordination with the aim of empowering contingency plans to counter US sanctions.

The committee hopes to cool down present tensions between the government and judiciary, and to engage Iranian officials on outstanding files on corruption and state oversight.

According to Khamenei, the problems facing the Iranian economy stemmed from “domestic and structural challenges” and “US sanctions,” calling on official bodies to take smart and efficient solutions.

The economic crisis, which took heavy toll months after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal on May 8 and re-imposition of sanctions in August, caused hundreds of thousands of Iranians to take to street in more than 80 cities to protest against deteriorating living conditions.

Protests present a major concern for the ruling regime for several reasons given that they have swept across Tehran and saw the participation of middle class families that are considered the regime’s baseline support.

The International Monetary Fund predicts the economy will shrink 1.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent in 2019, before recovering slowly.

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