FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing

“Leave Syria, think about us!” and “No to Yemen! No to Lebanon and Hezbollah! Our lives for Iran!” are among graffiti sentiments scrawled across Tehran. The campaign is being led by students, unemployed workers, and other detractors of Iran’s Wali al Fique “Supreme Leader” rule and its much opposed foreign and monetary policies.

In the past year the Iranian Rial has lost one-third of its value. One-dollar cost 70 Rial at the time of the 1979 Islamic revolution, or 36,000 when Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013. Today one Dollar costs 60,000 Rial or higher with some currency exchanges and banks being forced to shut their doors to avoid long customer waits and chaotic lines. According to a student friend studying at Tehran University, when customers visit Iranian banks and ask to exchange even 15 or 20 million Rials ($300 or $400) they are usually denied and asked to return in a week or more because the bank’s Dollar cash is depleted. To stem the mounting panic, Tehran announced this week an official exchange rate at 42,000 Rials to the dollar and threatening harsh punishments for anyone trying to exchange money at a different rate.

The pressure on the Rial continues to mount. This morning, 4/19/2018, an Iranian friend of this observer, Hamid, who works a few blocks from Tehran’s Grand Bazaar on Manouchehri Street, the heart of Iran’s informal (black) currency market, reported that discrete customers want to hoard ever more dollars as the Iranian Rial plummets. And they are ignoring government warnings not to. Hamid predicts the ‘illegal’ black market rate may reach 75,000 Rial to the Dollar within the coming few weeks, with an estimated inflation rate of a least 13% annually.

In the past, Hamid has advised me that some ‘friendly’ government officials come to him and his colleagues to ask their opinions on monetary issues because they trust their expertise more than they do some of the Central Bank economists.

When asked by this observer about the causes of the apparent collapse of the Rial, Hamid insisted that at the top of his list: “our rulers are giving our money to Syria and Hezbollah when we need it to be spent in our own country.” Some government officials, apparently overhearing Hamid, discretely nodded in agreement and did not detain him, he later told me.

This past week, Iranian MP Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, the head of the Economic Committee in Iran’s Parliament, claimed in an interview with ISNA News Agency that the Iranian people transferred $30 billion out of the country in the last few months of the Persian calendar year, which ended on March 20. Among them, according to Hami are plenty of government officials.

The immediate and perhaps longer-term future of the Rial, may rest significantly on whether Mike Pompeo and John Bolton decide to seek regime change. Both have advocated collapsing Iran’s economy to collapse its regime. “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” Bolton advised an Iranian opposition group several months ago. “The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”

Corruption, political infighting and fear of new sanctions are also factors in the Rial’s dramatic shrinkage. Even money earned from Iranian exports abroad is difficult to bring back into Iran these days given that international banks and foreign businesses are still quite wary of doing business with the country for fear of violating the increasingly complicated Kafkaesque U.S. led sanctions.

With the nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and John Bolton appointed National Security Advisor, the prospect of ever more sanctions on Iran are significantly greater according to analysts at Citigroup Inc., Societe Generale SA, Royal Bank of Canada, and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, among other who closely monitor Iran’s economy.

Perhaps with Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo in mind, Iran’s Economics Governor Valiollah Seif is again this week accusing Iran’s foes of collapsing the Rial, telling the media: “Enemies outside of our borders, in various guises, are fueling this issue and are going to some effort to make conditions tougher for the people.” One imagines that the gentleman is at least partially right.

In addition, some sanctions enforcement agents at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) are predicting that instability for the Islamic Republic will be intensified by its soon to be announced new sanctions. Other officials in President Hassan Rouhani’s government say there’s more than an economic rationale for the currency slide and have suggested conservative opponents are fueling it to discredit his administration to replace it with hardliners.

With the nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and John Bolton appointed National Security Advisor, the prospect of ever more sanctions on Iran are significantly greater according to analysts at Citigroup Inc., Societe Generale SA, Royal Bank of Canada, and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, among other who closely monitor Iran’s economy.

One reason this observer believes that the Trump Administration will not scrape the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran next month is that Trump’s current team appear to confidently believe that they can achieve their US foreign policy goals by collapsing Iran’s economy while keeping the nuclear agreement— at least for now. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, following a meeting with John Bolton recently announced that more US and EU sanctions on Iran will have a “very strong impact.” Shortly thereafter, on 4/17/2018, European Union (EU) diplomats agreed that there is growing support among the 27 EU governments for more sanctions on Iran as they seek to persuade President Trump to stick by the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. It is being reported from Luxemburg that the EU ministers were nearing an agreement that sanctions action should be taken before the May 12 Trump deadline.

Another pressing problem affecting the Rial is inflation. As is widely known, inflation is not a new problem in Iran, due in part to sanctions in recent years. But spiralling inflation is being felt by ordinary Iranians like never. Iran’s Central Bank reported inflation to be at 22.2 percent, although some Iranian economists at both Tehran and Beheshti Universities claim this figure is seriously underestimated and ought not to be taken seriously.

In one week alone, the cost of chicken rose 30 percent and the price of vegetables nearly 100 percent. Prices are unstable, family budgets are being stretched as savings quickly disappear.


Also compounding the Rial’s cascading drop is mounting unemployment, soaring to an unofficial annual rate of 35 percent but nearly ten points higher according to other estimates. This is caused in large measure by factories and business having to lay off workers because they are unable to import needed goods and raw materials.

The popular revolts in the Middle East which began in 2011, Tunisia and Egypt being clear examples which instruct us, among other lessons, that there is a strong link between domestic stability, economic conditions and politics. And, that citizens want their governments to focus on domestic needs rather than on foreign hegemonic projects or to be dragged into foreign sectarian conflicts or proxy wars.

As Iran’s confrontation with the Trump administration and U.S. regional allies heats up, its rulers are attempting to avert a worse currency crisis that would seriously add to their domestic woes. Yet Iran’s Wali al Fique and the conservative and anti-American Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, led by Qassim Soleimani, the branch of Iran’s military devoted to protecting its Islamic Republic system, are committed to dominating the Middle East. Whatever the price paid by civilian populations, including Iran’s.

Soleimani is rumored to already be planning for the post Wali al Fique (Ali Khameini) future and the establishment of a military government for not only Iran but for much of the region. Under his command.

More articles by:

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 24, 2019
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Belmont
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail