Iranian women gather during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to walk out of a 2015 nuclear deal, in Tehran, Iran, May 11, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)
The Iranian rial is under heavy pressure from the threat of US sanctions and reports indicate the Iranian people are not happy about it.
After US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw earlier this year from the deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program, brokered by world powers led by his predecessor Barak Obama, some US sanctions are on tap to be reimposed in August with others to follow in November.
The results of the expected sanctions have already had a tsunami-like effect on the Iranian economy and its currency. The rial sank as low as 90,000 against the dollar in the unofficial market on Monday from 87,000 on Sunday and around 75,500 last Thursday, according to a Reuters report. At the end of last year, it stood at 42,890, more than double this week’s valuation.
Industries and Trade minister Mohammad Shariatmadari slapped an import ban on 1,339 goods that could instead be produced within the country, Iran’s Financial Tribune newspaper reported on Monday. Prohibited imports include home appliances, textile products, footwear and leather products, as well as furniture, healthcare products and some machinery, the Tehran Times said.
In the first large-scale demonstrations in Iran since last December, when public calls for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to step down were violently contained by Iranian security forces, Iranians are once again taking to the streets in anger about the devaluation of the rial which is driving up the price of imports throughout the country.
“We are all angry with the economic situation. We cannot continue our businesses like this. But we are not against the regime,” said a merchant in the Tehran bazaar, according to Reuters.
Traders from the bazaar, whose merchants supported Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, told Reuters that most shops remained closed in protest Monday. But Tehran’s deputy governor Abdolazim Rezaie downplayed the extent of the demonstrations, saying that no one had been arrested in the Tehran protests and adding that all the shops will be open on Tuesday, according to Iranian State TV.
Whether or not they continue, it is worthwhile noting that at least some of the protesters are taking issue with Iranian attempts to wield influence throughout the Middle East rather than focus on domestic issues.
According to reports, among the slogans shouted and posters displayed by the protesters on Monday, in shopping malls and outside the parliament building in Tehran, were “Death to Palestine,” “Help us, not Gaza,” and “Leave Syria alone and deal with Iran.”
It may not be a sign that the era of redemption is upon us, but it’s a rare occurrence when such unorthodox and radical sentiments are heard in the Muslim world, indicating that there are Iranians who are fed up with the totalitarian regime in Tehran that is focused on spreading terrorism and chaos wherever it can.
As the US State Department outlined in its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” last year, Iran continues to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. It said Iran was untethered in its backing of Hezbollah and other anti-Israel groups in Lebanon and Syria, as well as proxies that continue to further destabilize conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
“Iran is the destabilizer,” Seth J. Frantzman wrote in The Jerusalem Post last month. “It supports far-right political parties in Iraq and Lebanon and elsewhere and then pretends that the extremists who respond to them require more Iranian presence to ‘defend stability’... Iran likes to meddle.”
At least some of the Iranian people are fed up with that meddling and, despite harsh censorship and restrictions on their ability to communicate with the outside world and join the online grid, are becoming aware of gross violations their government is responsible for at the expense of its own people.
If Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear agreement achieves nothing else, it has already had a modicum of success in giving support to dissidents in Iranian eyes. Although this week’s protests may meet the same violent ends as last year’s demonstrations, all freedom-loving people should throw their backing and support behind the latest Iranian uprising.
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