By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on January 30 that government mismanagement has contributed to Iran’s economic woes, an acknowledgement of problems more frequently blamed on U.S. and other international sanctions.
But the remarks by the hard-line Khamenei, who holds ultimate religious and political authority in Iran, appeared aimed at criticizing a previous government of relative moderates rather than signaling official contrition.
In a meeting with economic officials, he cited “GDP growth, capital formation, inflation, housing and liquidity growth” as “not satisfactory” in the decade between 2011 and 2021.
“The main cause of these problems is not only sanctions, but also wrong decisions and shortcomings,” Khamenei said.
Iran was targeted by increasingly tough sanctions by the United Nations, as well as the United States and other countries, before a deal with major world powers to curb Tehran’s sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief in 2015.
The United States withdrew from that deal in 2018 and reimposed stringent sanctions that battered Iran’s economy and its currency.
Officials within Iran’s conservative-dominated power structure routinely chalk up tough policies and widespread hardship on international enemies.
“If the authorities had cooperated more with the producers in these 10 years, the damage would have been less, and the successes would have been greater,” Khamenei said.
It was an allusion to actions under ex-President Hassan Rohani, who helped push for the nuclear deal and served the maximum two terms before he was succeeded by hard-line former prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi.
U.S. President Joe Biden came to office a year ago seeking a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but international talks aimed at reviving the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) foundered after Raisi’s election before restarting briefly.
They are now mostly stagnant.
French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly told Raisi via telephone on January 29 that that the JCPOA can be revived but the talks must be accelerated and Iran must return to compliance.
In his criticism, Khamenei cited the poor quality of vehicles and other domestically manufactured products, as well as ineffective subsidies in the face of rising prices.
Civil servants have been among protesters to take to Iranian streets in recent weeks to express frustration at economic conditions.