Thursday , 23 September 2021

Is ‘national reconciliation’ Iran’s key weapon to win economic war?

Al-Monitor – Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said July 25 that his country will soon witness what he called a “great show of internal unity,” with national figures coming together to fight off economic pressures.

The moderate politician made the comments in Tehran in an address to the heads of Iranian missions abroad. He did not elaborate on the details of how that could take place but noted, “The best strategy to tackle the impasse that has gripped the country these days is solidarity and national unity.” The same call for unity was reflected in a speech by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last month, when he made it clear to domestic hard-liners that the target of US pressure is not their moderate rivals but rather Iran as a whole.

Jahangiri lamented that negligence when it came to forging unity had emboldened the “enemy” to the point where “it is now launching diatribes against Iran.” But according to an editorial in Ghanoon, a Reformist daily, “Given the pressure exerted and the hard times ahead for Iran’s economy, some [in Iran] have now come to the conclusion that the approach needs to be mended and another path should be trodden.”

Jahangiri said Iran is at a critical juncture but confidently added that the new conditions are not “crippling” and that to face them, Iran needs “creative solutions.” The new limitations, from Jahangiri’s viewpoint, have led to fresh opportunities as well.

Iran’s first vice president has been repeatedly criticized for trying to paint a positive picture of the status of the Iranian economy and speaking of its future prospects with exaggerated optimism. In the meantime, rumors have recently been rife that he was submitting his resignation over interference in his affairs by other members of President Hassan Rouhani’s inner circle, particularly the influential chief of the presidential staff, Mahmoud Vaezi.

Yet the vice president showed no sign of such complaints in his latest speech, doing his best to demonstrate moderation and acting like a nonpartisan figure who encourages unity. He also downplayed the US pressure, saying the American political and media war against the Islamic Republic will not wear out the Iranians, whom he said “will never harm their own country and government, backed by a foreign state.”

When it comes to addressing the economic pressure on the middle class, Jahangiri spoke of various solutions ranging from subsidies to coupons.

He said the government has devised — since it realized that the United States would restrict Iran’s foreign currency resources — the necessary strategies to counter those measures. Iran’s national currency, the rial, has been witnessing an almost unprecedented devaluation ever since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in May.

Jahangiri also praised Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “flag bearer” of national unity. The vice president’s speech comes at a time when hard-liners appear to be shifting their attitudes toward Rouhani, especially following his recently ratcheted-up rhetoric against the United States and Israel. Iran’s conservatives, in other words, seem to be rallying behind a president they spared no attacks on in recent years.