Rouhani claims economic woes, division in Iran 'fabricated'

The President of Iran on Tuesday dismissed any concerns that lawmakers and his administration were divided after the parliament in Tehran summoned him to answer questions on the current economic turmoil in which the country is embroiled.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The President of Iran on Tuesday dismissed any concerns that lawmakers and his administration were divided after the parliament in Tehran summoned him to answer questions on the current economic turmoil in which the country is embroiled.

Earlier in August, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani gave President Hassan Rouhani one month to appear before lawmakers—80 of whom backed Larijani’s order—and address the deterioration of the country’s finances as US sanctions on Tehran were re-imposed this summer.

During his speech, Rouhani stated that it was an “auspicious day for Democracy,” and added “let no one think that today is the beginning of a divide between the government and the Majlis (Parliament).”

Rouhani, who struck the 2015 international nuclear accord with the West, asserted that “in the past four and a half years, the country was successful in growing the economy, and fighting inflation.”

Answering a question on the “sudden” decline of the economy in the recent months, the president suggested the economic woes of the country were fabricated and a cause of investor pessimism, saying “I believe that the problems are rooted in the imagination and prediction of the people of Iran for the future [of the country’s] economy.”

“Suddenly,” Rouhani said, “the outlook of our people regarding Iran changed, and this is a big problem.”

Earlier this month, the US re-imposed a set of sanctions on Iran dealing with the import of Iranian metals and automobiles. The more important sanctions, however, are set to take effect on November 5 and will include Iran’s oil, financial, and shipping sectors.

Since the sanctions were re-imposed, Iran’s currency, the Rial, plummeted in value and protests erupted over the struggling economy and Tehran’s costly involvement in regional conflicts.

Rouhani warned of attempts by Washington to affect Iranian public perception, an accusation that has been leveled against Tehran itself ahead of the US’ midterm elections after social media giants identified and banned hundreds of accounts engaging in the “manipulation of American public opinion.”

“We have to tell the people of Iran that we will not allow the conspiracies of America to prevail,” he stressed, adding “we are not afraid of America or the economic problems.”

Members of the Majlis also questioned the president on the topics of smuggling, inflation, unemployment, and economic stagnation. The session ended with a poll where lawmakers deemed the President’s answers “unsatisfactory,” noting additional queries would be sent to the judiciary for further review, according to Tasnim news.

The lawmakers went on to criticize the Rouhani government’s “incompetence” in handling Iran’s finances, with Hussein Noghvi Husseini, member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, claiming that five million adults were unemployed in the country.

It was the first time Rouhani was summoned to parliament as pressure from the US and its allies mount, and sanctions take their toll on the already fragile economy.

“Iran’s corrupt regime is wasting the country’s resources on Assad, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Houthis, while Iranians struggle,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted in July during protests in Tehran’s bazaars.

“People are tired of the corruption, injustice, and incompetence of their leaders. The world hears their voice,” he continued.

Editing by Nadia Riva