The Supreme Leader has declared the new Iranian year as “Pick-Up in Production”, marking both long-standing economic problems and US sanctions trying to break the Islamic Republic.
Ayatollah Khamenei has often used the New Year’s message for an economic theme, seeking a “Resistance Economy” of self-sufficiency. On Wednesday, he called for “fortitude and prudence” against “enemy conspiracies”, in a statement focused on the presentation of threats:
The enemies hatched many plots, and they had orchestrated schemes for the Iranian nation….
The Iranian nation showed a strong and robust reaction to the severe and allegedly unprecedented sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe both in the political and economic domains.
Last May, Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia). Comprehensive American sanctions followed in November.
Iran’s oil exports have halved since last April. Inflation has resurged to more than 40%, unemployment — especially among youth — is rising, and the currency has lost 67% of its value in the past year. There are recurrrent protests, including nationwide demonstrations in January and June 2018.
But Khamenei maintained that Iranians had shown mass support for regime against the enemy, through rallies on February 11 on the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. He claimed resistance with “scientific and technical initiatives”, “knowledge-based companies”, and infrastructure.
The Supreme Leader specifically cited this week’s opening of four new phases of the South Pars gas field, the largest in the world, in southern Iran.
“Livelihood Problems Increased”
But, while portraying a country unified for the regime, Khamenei chose not to hide Iran’s difficult situation:
Economic woes remain the fundamental problem facing the country. People’s livelihood problems increased over the past few months, in particular. Part of those problems are due to inefficient management with regards to economic issues, which should be definitely redressed….
The devaluation of the national currency is an important issue, and so is people’s purchasing power. Among other problems are the difficulties that factories are facing, dwindling production, and probably the closure of some factories.
He tried to assure, “Plans have been set in motion and measures have been adopted, and God willing, these measures should come into force in the Persian New Year 1398.”
The Supreme Leader’s motto for last year was the “Year of Support for Iranian Goods”. He said yesterday that this had not been “completely realized” to explain his declaration for production for a Resistance Economy:
If production gains momentum, it will both solve people’s livelihood problems and make the country independent of foreigners and enemies. Moreover, it can solve the unemployment problem and, to a great extent, solve the problem of the devaluation of the national currency.