06/25/2019, 10.14
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Iranian population victims of tug of war between Trump and the ayatollahs

The diplomatic and commercial war between Tehran and Washington is bringing the population to its knees. Inflation has multiplied the price of consumer goods. People point the finger at the inefficiency and incompetence of government officials. But US sanctions have effectively isolated the country. And today they also affect the supreme leader Khamenei.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The diplomatic and commercial war between Tehran and Washington, which in recent days threatened to turn into open warfare, has already hit the Iranian population with extreme hardship.

The 80 million inhabitants of the Islamic Republic must in fact fight against devaluation, inflation and unemployment exacerbated by a progressive tightening of the US sanctions, which today also affect the supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian citizens, squeezed in this deadly grip, point the finger at their own government and the US "enemy", both responsible for an increasingly serious escalation. "The economic war - underlines Shiva Keshavarz, an accountant who is about to marry - is already a reality and people live in a condition of great pressure".

She said government leaders "keep telling us to be strong and endure the pressures, but we can already hear the sound of our bones breaking.” A confirmation of the serious crisis situations comes from the exchange offices: at the time of the nuclear agreement, the local currency had a rate of one dollar against 32 thousand rials. Today the figure has shot upwards, rising to 1 against 130 thousand.

According to government statistics, inflation has exceeded 37%. Over three million people, equal to 12% of working-age citizens, are unemployed. The figure doubles if young people with a certain level of education are taken into account.

Inflation and depreciation have made each item very expensive, from fruit and vegetables on food counters to tires and gasoline for cars. A basic mobile phone costs up to two months' salary for an average government employee; the price of an iPhone is equal to 10 months salary. "When imports are blocked - says Pouria Hassani, a Tehran based telephone dealer - traders must turn to the black market at a much higher cost".

The common and increasingly widespread opinion among the population is that the problems are caused by the inefficiency and incompetence of government officials. Many point to the enormous wealth of oil and natural gas contained in the subsoil. However, due to US sanctions and the "maximum pressure" exerted by the White House, it is increasingly difficult for the Islamic Republic to trade abroad.

US-Iranian tensions were triggered by US President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ​​agreed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, which was followed by the toughest sanctions in history against Iran. Washington, which has its sight sets on the oil exports of the Islamic Republic has strengthened the military presence in the area.

In these days Washington has launched a series of new sanctions, which directly affect the supreme leader Khamenei and the upper echelons of Tehran. A decision following the shooting down of a US drone in the Gulf - in international waters according to Washington, Iran objects an says it was on its own territory - and that risked leading to an open conflict, with US president Trump calling off a tough military response at the last minute.

This morning the spokesman for Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Mousavi said that "after the latest sanctions, the diplomatic channel with the United States is closed forever." The tension between the two countries shows no sign of calming, also due to the contradictory behavior of President Trump who, on the one hand, says he is "impatient" to remove the sanctions and, on the other, says he does not need "Congressional approval” to attack.

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