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Iranian Officials Now Repeatedly Acknowledge: The Sanctions are Devastating


By Hossein Mohammadi, Rooz Online

Until only a few weeks ago officials of the Islamic republic of Iran repeatedly claimed in public that the growing international and bilateral sanctions that have evolved against Iran have had no effect on the country. But since the EU embargo on Iranian oil and a ban on insuring the shipping of its oil that went into effect on July 1, Iranian officials have changed their tune in public by confirming the hardship and headaches that the sanctions are causing.

For example, speaking to a group of Ramadhan campaigners, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s minister of industries and mines labeled the sanctions devastating. Mehdi Ghazanfari pointed to the peculiarities in the latest round of sanctions against Iran and said, “The enemy has put his fingers on the main arteries of the country’s economy and is now implementing comprehensive sanctions.”

This is the umpteenth time that an official of the Islamic republic is warning about the impact of the sanctions. Just a few years ago in 2007 as the UN passed another round of sanctions against the Islamic republic for the purported non-fulfillment of its IAEA obligations, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the resolution a “torn piece of paper.” He ridiculed other Security Council resolutions in similar language. Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, the commander of the Basij paramilitary force had also said that he welcomed the sanctions because they would result in progress for the country.

Mahmoud Bahmani, the governor of Iran’s central bank on the other hand had warned that the sanctions would bring hardship to the country for years and compared it to a period of hardship during the reign of Islam’s prophet Mohammad. The supreme leader of Iran however was quick to publicly reject the governor’s judgment and categorization and compared the country to a prosperous period in Islamic history.

Today however, the minister of industries sings a different sing as he recently said, “There is no precedence in the world for a central bank to be sanctioned. But they have done this and they may even expand the sanctions further to include logistics issues. Today we are in a serious and dangerous confrontation. We must realize that confronting the enemy requires serious thought and intelligence.”

The new round of sanctions against Iran, which began on July 1 this year have resulted in steep prices of many daily goods. Ghazanfari described the situation in these words, “The roots of the price hikes contain peculiar complexities, but we cannot announce all of their aspects through the media.” He further said that special “Committees to Resist Sanctions” have been set up in all government ministries so that “people’s essential products” are met.

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Prior to these remarks, news reports indicated that as the new ban on Iranian oil went into effect earlier this month, some officials who have economic responsibilities inside the administration initiated special sessions to search for ways to deal with the effects of the sanctions. Based on their recommendations, the government decided to pursue measures to deal with the oil, financial and insurance bans in the following ways, “not use the Dollar and the Euro in oil transactions, establish an oil tanker insurance syndicate, increase oil storage capacity, and reduce the volume of extraction of oil in independent fields.”

Former Guards commander Rostam Ghasemi who is now the minister of oil, the governor of the central bank Mahmoud Bahmani, the minister of economy Shamseddin Hosseini, and minister of industries Mehdi Ghazanfari are the architects of these mechanisms.

Because of the recent economic pressures Yadollah Javani, the senior advisor to ayatollah Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guards Corps not only acknowledged these difficult conditions and the 70-percent price hikes of daily goods, he also warned Ahmadinejad’s administration to take the necessary measures so that “a bad event would not take place.” “People’s incomes have remained the same but we are witnessing an uncontrollable hike in prices. At a time when the enemy has decided to pressure the pubic, the current administration must mobilize all its capabilities so that a bad event would not take place even though it is natural that the 50 to 70 percent inflation rate will create problems for people during six months.

Some officials involved in economic matters also held sessions with members of the State Expediency Council and the Friday prayer imams and plan to consult with the senior ayatollahs as well.

The unprecedented hikes in prices, inflation and unemployment that began in early 2012, intensified in April and continue unabated have resulted in a wave of criticism and protests against Ahmadinejad’s administration which is not confined to people and opponents but includes people and officials who until a few months ago were his allies and supporters. Even pro-regime media and publications publishes daily criticism of the administration, as do members of the Majlis, clergy that is affiliated to the ruling group, Friday prayer imams appointed by ayatollah Khamenei, and even a number of senior ayatollahs who command a following. More recently, even senior members of the Revolutionary Guards have joined the critics who complain over the rising prices and inflation.

Cleric Ali Saeedi for example, last week asserted that the purpose of the economic blockade against the regime was to topple it and said, “The government’s efforts to confront the price hikes have insufficient.”

At the same time, Dawood Ahmadinejad, the former auditor of the presidency has till now on several occasions named the president’s associates - who are generally called the deviant group - to be responsible for the price hikes. He has claimed that these individuals “want to create pressure on the public so that they will pour into the streets to chant slogans against supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei.”

The hardline ayatollah Khamenei-appointed editor of Kayhan newspaper Hossein Shariatmadari, whose words are listened to because of his close affiliations to regime insiders, had also written that the deviant group worked to show the effectiveness of the sanctions as a way to open talks with the US.

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