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Mismanagement hits Iran more than US sanctions – Iran’s supreme leader

Mismanagement hits Iran more than US sanctions – Iran’s supreme leader
In a rare statement Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has lashed out at the country’s authorities, accusing them of poorly handling internal issues. The mismanagement is even worse than US sanctions, he said.

“It is not that the sanctions do not play a role; but a major part of the situation is the result of [government’s own] actions,” Khamenei said, according to Irna, as he was addressing thousands of Iranians in Tehran on Monday.

The supreme leader added that if Tehran acted “better and stronger" itself US sanctions would have not been so harmful.

Analysts told RT that what Khamenei said is not really surprising given the worsening economic situation inside the country after the relations with the US went on a downward spiral. The supreme leader has been trying to keep Iranian society balanced by taking a neutral position between the liberal and conservative parts of the establishment. Now the former, including President Hassan Rouhani, are finding themselves in a weaker position, according to Irina Fedorova from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

“The Ayatollah has needed to explain who is to blame for the current situation, to prop up his regime,” Fedorova told RT. She said that “the opponents of the conservatives,” and Rouhani in particular, who supported the JCPOA, will fall victims of this approach. But it will not lead to his resignation, the researcher noted. However, this means the conservatives’ positions, such as those of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are to strengthen significantly.

The statement may also mean a reshuffling of the political elite as well as some economic changes, Jamal Wakeem, professor of history and international relations at Lebanese University in Beirut, told RT. He said that “reformists” and those who pressed for the deals with the West are to be targeted, while the leadership is going to seek alternatives to the West, including a partnership with Russia and China.

The US reinstated certain economic sanctions against Iran last week, with President Trump promising more to come in November. The restrictive measures had been lifted under the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but Washington unilaterally withdrew from the landmark deal despite international condemnation, including from its EU allies. The 2015 agreement placed tight controls on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Iran’s commitment has been confirmed by the IAEA since then.

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Tehran has repeatedly blasted the US for the move, vowing to restart its nuclear program in retaliation against any foreign restrictions. While the US has been pressing its allies to completely refuse Iranian oil imports, the Islamic Republic has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, effectively blocking all the oil shipments from the Persian Gulf, should they accede to American demands.

The row between the US and Iran escalated last month, when their respective leadership exchanged a barrage of threats. Back then, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that a conflict with Iran would be “mother of all wars,” provoking Trump’s harsh response when he promised “consequences the likes of which few have ever suffered before.”

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