PHOTO: Mohsen Rezaei: Government not “revolutionary” in handling of economy
A high-ranking Iranian official has denounced the Rouhani Government over its handling of the economy, two days after the Supreme Leader issued a New Year’s warning to the President.
Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary of the Expediency Council and a Presidential candidate in 2013, used an interview to accuse the Government of not being “revolutionary” in its economic programs:
Rezaei said President Rouhani, who took office in August 2013, “has sought to solve unemployment for the past three years. Much effort has been made, but this matter has still not been realized”. He continued:
Administrations must permit the Islamic Revolution to enter the nation’s economy. If they themselves cannot [achieve anything], then they must give permission for revolutionary forces to expel poverty, unemployment, and prejudice from the country in the same way that they scared the Shah and Saddam from the country.
Rezaei’s statement was also a political challenge to Rouhani, who said last week that many in the regime cloak themselves as “revolutionaries” while not fulfilling the objectives of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The President and his allies are hoping to use the gains of a centrist-reformist bloc in February 26 elections to open up political and cultural space, as well as advancing their economic programs.
A Battle Over “Resistance Economy”?
On Sunday, the Supreme Leader indicated that his office and its allies might take control of Iran’s economic plans from the Government, invoking his 2012 slogan of “Resistance Economy”. He accused Rouhani of basing his policy on a misguided faith in discussions with the US, with the July 2015 nuclear agreement — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — to be followed by economic plans based on the lifting of American and European sanctions: “They believe Middle East or domestic problems can be solved by JCPOA 2 and 3.”
Khamenei called for defiance, “In facing enemy sanctions we should either tolerate difficulties of sanctions or resist through Resistance Economy.”
Government officials have responded by avoiding a confrontation. They have invoked Khamenei’s declaration of this Iranian year as “Resistance Economy: Action and Implementation” to pledge implementation of initiatives for recovery.
The Government is currently operating on a two-month emergency budget, with its 2016-17 proposal held up by the confirmation of the nuclear deal’s implementation and the February 26 Parliamentary elections.
It is also still awaiting confirmation of its 2016-2020 Development Plan.
Drawing the Line on the Revolutionary Guards
Rezaei also reiterated the Supreme Leader’s caution that no move should be made to restrict the Revolutionary Guards, who have substantial and expanding economic interests:
The Americans dream of dismantling the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. They have made it clear that Iran could only join the World Trade Organization if it dismantles the IRGC. This is wishful thinking.
Government Makes Up Oil Export Figure of 2.2 Million Barrels Per Day
Promoting economic recovery after the lifting of US and European sanctions, the Rouhani Government appears to have made up figures about Iran’s oil exports.
First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri declared on Tuesday that exports have soared, following January’s implementation of the July 2015 nuclear deal, from 1.3 million barrels per day to 2.2 million bpd.
However, oil market analysts said that exports only increased to 1.55 million barrels a day in January, a 9.2% rise on the month before, and there have been no indications of a further 40% increase in February.
While the January figure is Iran’s highest since March 2014, it is still well short of the 2 million bpd target announced by Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.