- Ayatollah Khamenei made clear that he would hold President Rouhani responsible for a failure to produce improvements in Iran’s economy. He implied that if Rouhani fails to adopt a “Resistance Economy” approach, it would negatively impact Rouhani’s aspirations for a second term.
- Khamenei’s warning to conserve foreign-currency windfalls that result from the lifting of sanctions is probably a criticism of Rouhani’s recent visit to Europe, where he signed deals to purchase 138 passenger planes.
- Rouhani’s management of the economy will be closely monitored by hardliners seeking a return to popularity and the presidency in the 2018 presidential elections.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last month used the Persian New Year holiday (Nowruz) to deliver his most comprehensive plan for Iran’s economy. His address, proclaimed from his hometown of Mashhad, outlined ten principles of the “Resistance Economy.”
From this speech, it is clear that Khamenei’s plan for Iran’s economic recovery is quite different from that of President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet. Moreover, Khamenei threw down the gauntlet that he would hold Rouhani responsible for a failure to produce promised improvements in Iran’s economy. Left unsaid but implied was the threat that if Rouhani fails to adopt a “Resistance Economy” approach, it would negatively impact the President’s aspirations for a second term.
The title of Khamenei’s speech was, “The Year of the Economy of Resistance: Action and Implementation.” This is a clear signal to the Rouhani administration as to what path the president should take in managing the economy.
Khamenei’s warning to conserve foreign-currency windfalls that result from the lifting of sanctions is probably a criticism of Rouhani’s whirlwind visit to Western European countries, during which he concluded deals for big-ticket items. For instance, Rouhani signed deals to purchase 118 Airbus passenger jets and 20 turboprop passenger planes from the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR.
Hardline members of Iran’s parliament (Majles) quickly exploited Khamenei’s address to criticize Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for emphasizing improved relations with the West during the first two years of Rouhani’s presidential term. MP Gholam Reza Mesbah declared:
“In the two years since the policies of the resistance economy have been issued, the administration has not taken action on this issue … Instead of focusing on international relations and the opening of the economy through this path, there should be special efforts toward domestic production, use of national capacities, natural resources, agriculture, industry, mines and tourism.”
Underscoring the serious nature of this criticism of Rouhani’s presidency was Professor Hojatollah Abdolmalehi of Imam Sadeq University, which has ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). He stated that “beneath the inability of liberal economists to implement the Leader’s ‘Resistance Economy’ program is a proclivity to embrace secular and anti-religious overtones.”
Full article: Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei Warns President Rouhani on Economy (The Gatestone Institute)