October 21, 2021
For the second time since taking office, President Ebrahim Raisi gave a televised interview Monday to explain how he wants to tackle Iran’s economic crisis.
The highlight of what he said was a point that was not new: “I am not going to tie the people’s livelihood to the nuclear negotiations.”
This has been one of his persisting slogans in recent weeks, meaning Iran will not make concessions to the West to get sanctions relief. Instead, it will try to deal with its economic crisis through self-reliance and closer relations with China and Russia.
Conservative news website Alef, however, wrote in a commentary on Tuesday that the president can solve problems only if he has the right middle managers.
Alef wrote: “Some 75 days after taking office as President, still many seats remain vacant in Raisi’s administration.” Citing the government’s own website, Alef wrote that parts of the government including the President’s Office and the Interior Ministry still do not have the right officials that can bring about the changes planned by Raisi. The Ministry of Education has still no minister more than a month after the beginning of the new academic year.
Alef noted that “the least degree of overhaul has taken place in the economic ministries, where changes are most needed.” The website observed that with all the tough economic problems the government faces, there is no one to carry out orders coming from the top.
As an example, according to moderate conservative Khabar Online website, Raisi once again issued orders to three ministries on Tuesday to take measures “to give peace of mind to the people about their livelihood and to put an end to inaction within the government and to sort out the instability in the markets.” Like always, Raisi called for “immediate, serious and revolutionary measures” while observers say there is no one to carry out these orders.
In an interview with reformist daily Arman, right-of-center former lawmaker and Tehran City Council member Sharbanu Amani said that the most important problem for Raisi is that his government “has no plans and roadmaps and that is why it seems to be confused about many things.”
Ms. Amani charged that neither Raisi, nor his aides have ever told the people about the details of their plans for solving the country’s problems. She added that “although Raisi has been part of the Iranian government for at least 40 years, he still does not have a full team to support him. There was no team even when he was running for the office.”
The outspoken politician said: “Raisi was elected in an extremely low-turnout election. He was expected to be in a hurry to seek the nation’s support by acting quickly to solve problems. But we see that he has set up one of the weakest administrations in Iran when we look at his top officials. Most of his managers, who are mainly the former aides of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, look at problems from a military and security perspective. This comes while we expected him to behave in a way that would return the public’s trust in the government.”
Amani said Raisi may find it difficult to restore public trust. In his visit to Bushehr Province, he asked the local governor to solve long-standing problems within ten days while everyone knows that would be impossible as economic problems cannot be solved by issuing orders.
Ms. Amani warned that Iran’s economic crisis is serious, yet, the Raisi administration has not taken any positive step to solve Iran’s nuclear dispute and help lift sanctions, while the Covid pandemic is also taking its toll. The parliament, packed by hardliners, which was supposed to help the likeminded president has done nothing. In the meantime, useless decisions such as a planned 20-year deal with Venezuela, a country with its own severe economic crisis is questionable. Selecting Mohammad Eslami as nuclear chief and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as Foreign Minister were also wrong decisions. They do not know the basics of their job, she maintained.
However, Ms. Amani said: We cannot blame Raisi for all the problems. Those who omitted all other candidates and narrowed down the people’s choice to Raisi are also to be blamed for the situation.