Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on January 30 that government mismanagement had contributed to Iran’s economic woes, an acknowledgment of the problems being more commonly blamed on US and other international sanctions.
But the comments of the uncompromising Khamenei, who holds the highest religious and political authority in Iran, seemed aimed at criticizing a previous government of relatively moderates, rather than signaling official remorse.
In a meeting with business leaders, he called “GDP growth, capital formation, inflation, real estate and liquidity growth” in the decade between 2011 and 2021 as “unsatisfactory”.
“The main cause of these problems is not only sanctions, but also wrong decisions and shortcomings,” Khamenei said.
Iran was hit with increasingly stringent sanctions by the United Nations, as well as the United States and other countries, before reaching a deal in 2015 with major world powers to curb Tehran’s sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for the sanctions being lifted.
The United States withdrew from that deal in 2018 and re-imposed harsh sanctions that weighed on Iran’s economy and currency.
Officials within Iran‘s conservative-dominated power structure routinely attribute tough policies and widespread hardship to international enemies.
“If the authorities had worked more with producers over those 10 years, the damage would have been less and the gains greater,” Khamenei said.
It was a reference to actions under ex-President Hassan Rouhani, who helped push for the nuclear deal and served a maximum of two terms before being replaced by hard-line former prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi.
US President Joe Biden took office a year ago and sought a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but international talks to revive the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) collapsed after Raisi’s election, before briefly resuming.
Today they are mostly stagnant.
French President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly done so said Raisi by phone on Jan. 29 that the JCPOA can be revived but talks must be accelerated and Iran must return to compliance.
In his criticism, Khamenei cited the poor quality of vehicles and other domestically made products and ineffective subsidies in the face of rising prices.
Including officials Demonstrators take to the streets of Iran in recent weeks to express frustration with economic conditions.