Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told a group of political personalities on Saturday, May 11, “We face difficult conditions” and added that pressures from current sanctions are more than what Iran endured during its war with Iraq in the 1980s.
Rouhani’s official website quoted him as saying, “We face difficult conditions, but at the same time I am not hopeless…and I believe we can get through this tough situation if we stick together and lend a helping hand to each other”.
Comparing Iran’s current situation with the 8-year war against Iraq, Rouhani said, “Today it is not possible to say if conditions are better or worse that during the imposed war, but at the time we did not have problems with banking, selling oil, imports and exports and our only problem was a weapons sanction”.
U.S. sanctions imposed during 2018 have virtually stopped Iran’s oil exports, foreign investment in its economy and reduced its trade.
Rouhani asked the attendees to put their ideas together to find the least costly ways out of the crisis. He added, “Surrendering is not compatible with our religion and culture and people will not accept it, therefore we should not surrender. Instead we should find solutions and in this regard, it important to consider to what degree solutions” can be determined “by the government”.
From remarks that followed, it is clear that Rouhani was speaking about his presidential administration, which is just a part of the sprawling state structures. Many important state organs are controlled by the Supreme Leader in Iran.
Rouhani emphasized that accountability demanded from the government should be commensurate with the powers it has. “As an example, if questions are asked from the government about foreign policy, cultural issues or cyberspace policy, we should consider what authority the government has in these areas.”
Military issues, foreign policy cultural and social restrictions, judicial and even major economic policies are mainly set by the Supreme Leader, who controls the state TV and radio broadcasting, without any private stations permitted.
Iranian “reformist” politicians have often complained about the president’s limited powers within the Iranian political system.
Recently, Rouhani had emphasized that the Islamic Republic needs the support of the people and it needs to keep the population satisfied. But Iran’s economy has faced a serious crisis since President Donald Trump signaled his decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement. It is almost impossible for the government to keep Iranians happy, when inflation and unemployment have left millions struggling for their basic needs.
Political personalities invited to meet Rouhani included representatives of the conservative and so called reformist factions of the establishment and a few politicians representing political groups which are basically forces to be inactive in the Islamic republic.
The presidential website has not published the remarks of the invitees.