While the Iranian national currency, the rial, has lost more than half of its value against the U.S. dollar in just four months, Iran’s authorities are still trying to blame the drop on “foreign enemies.”
Judicial chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani has described the downfall of the rial and hiking gold prices as “suspicious puppetry” run by “dirty hands behind the curtain.”
Echoing the comments of his younger brother, parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani insisted hostile foreign intelligence services have focused on Iran’s gold market.
“The enemies’ intelligence services in disguise are after damaging Iran’s economy,” Ali Larijani told a parliamentary meeting on July 30.
Without any elaboration or evidence, Ali Larijani said, “Since the foreign intelligence services know that any disruption or fluctuation in Iran’s gold and forex market damages the national economy, they have focused on this area.”
In an orchestrated way, most of Iran’s authorities, including directors of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), have repeatedly attributed the historic downfall of the rial and soaring gold prices to “enemies,” saying the recent developments are not compatible with the realities of the Iranian economy.
The rial’s fall gained momentum after U.S. President Donald Trump announced in May Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
“Iran has followed every possible route to counteract U.S. plots and pressure on Iranian people’s livelihood,” Ali Larijani told the Iranian Parliament’s economic transparency committee on July 30, adding, “During the past 40 years, we didn’t negotiate with the United States, but during recent years and with the request of the United States we started negotiations regarding the nuclear issue. The talks lasted for two years and resulted in JCPOA. We tried not to let the nuclear issue put pressure on people’s daily lives.”
Furthermore, Ali Larijani stressed, “Iran had the right to exit JCPOA just after the U.S. withdrawal from the pact; however, Iran didn’t do that.”
Implicitly maintaining that the downfall of the rial is related to the U.S. withdrawal, the speaker reiterated, “The world’s intelligence services have focused their activities on Iran’s economic activities,” adding without elaboration, “According to the information we have received, the enemies’ intelligence services are seeking to harm (Iran’s) economy under the disguise of (other activities).”
Meanwhile, Ali Larijani called upon Iranians to prepare themselves for more hardship. “Iran has to endure a period of domestic and regional pressures,” he said.
While the controversy over the cause of the rial’s downfall continues, the judiciary has detained scores of merchants charged with disrupting the country’s economy.
Many of the detainees so far have been charged with buying gold coins in excessive amounts. Judicial officials and security forces maintained that a man, named Hameed Mazloumin, and his son were arrested for buying more than 2 tons of gold coins.
However, there are no laws in Iran's criminal code that restrict or ban buying precious metals or hard currencies.
At a meeting with judiciary officials on June 27, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had called on the Justice Department to “confront those who disrupt economic security."
“Disrupting the economic order or security” is a key phrase Khamenei uses to threaten protesting dissidents.
A day earlier, Amoli Larijani had also threatened the protesting merchants with execution.
“Listen carefully. Take the cotton out of your ears and open your eyes. Disrupting the country’s economic order is punishable by execution -- if found to be on the level of ‘corruption on Earth’ -- or up to 20 years in prison and the confiscation of all possessions,” he warned in a speech addressing judicial officials in Tehran on June 26.
“We will not hesitate to implement the law,” he said.