PHOTO: President Rouhani speaking in southwestern Iran on Sunday
Facing criticism of both the July 2015 nuclear deal and his foreign policy approach, Iran’s President Rouhani has tried to balance defense of the agreement and a denunciation of the US.
Rouhani used a speech in southwestern Iran on Sunday to counter his hardline and conservative critics, including the Supreme Leader: “We are optimistic about the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] but pessimistic about the US.”
Implementation of the agreement began in January, with Rouhani promising that it would soon lead to the recovery of Iran’s crippled economy. However, while European sanctions have been lifted, some US restrictions require months to be removed, others have been maintained, and there have even been new measures because of Iran’s ballistic missile testing.
The Supreme Leader warned in March that he would not accept any interaction with the US apart from the nuclear negotaitions, and he said that he could take control of economic policy, pursuing a “Resistance Economy” of self-sufficiency. The Revolutionary Guards, with its extensive interests in Iran’s economy and distrust of any foreign investment, stepped up rhetoric against the US and its partners.
In the last two weeks, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani joined the criticism of the Government’s economic policy — “Investors avoid business environments where the prospects are grim” — and Friday Prayer leaders, speaking on guidance from the Supreme Leader’s office, called Rouhani “Mr Gullible” over his approach to the Americans and the nuclear deal. The President’s office was prompted to respond with a request to the judiciary to prosecute anyone insulting Rouhani.
“Our People Are Happy”
Playing up to Ayatollah Khamenei, Rouhani told his audience on Sunday, “People helped the realization of Supreme Leader’s message calling for empathy and rapport between the government and the people.”
The President then declared that Iran’s economy grew 4.4% between March and June, with the start-up of 7,500 firms and new opportunities for jobs: “We should not let a single young person be unemployed and one of the government’s lofty plans is to create jobs for the educated youths, in accordance with their education and knowledge.”
As for the nuclear deal, the President said implementation was proceeding, with critics aligned with Iran’s enemies:
You proved the world that no one is able to impose their will and sanction Iran and you did this by unity, obeying the Supreme Leader and supporting the government….
Today, we are exporting any amount of oil we want, despite the enemies’ will….
Lifting of sanctions may not be to the interest of some, but our people are happy about it. Just as the government decreased inflation to a single-digit figure, it will bring back economic prosperity with people’s support….
Today, Zionists and a handful of childish neighbors are unhappy about brave Iranian diplomats’ historic victory and lift of sanctions.