Iran’s Supreme Leader and head of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanded judicial punishment on Wednesday for anyone who “disrupt[s]” Iran’s “economic security” in the aftermath of protests over the tumbling value of the rial against the U.S. dollar.
“The atmosphere for the work, life, and livelihood of the people must be secure,” Khamenei said in a meeting with judiciary officials, Reuters reported. “And the judiciary must confront those who disrupt economic security,” he said, in a stern warning to protesters.
Economic security appears to be increasingly thin in Iran, where over 40 percent of the population is unemployed and struggling to put food on the table.
Protests started over the weekend in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, seen as the center of commerce in the nation, after Iran’s currency plummeted to 90,000 rials per USD.
Chants of “We don’t want the dollar to be at 100,000 rials” and “Strike!” were reportedly heard during the protests. The rial stood at 42,890 at the tail end of 2017.
As of Wednesday, the rial reportedly traded at 78,500 against the dollar in the unofficial market.
“It should surprise no one #IranProtests continue,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Wednesday.
#Iran’s corrupt regime is wasting the country’s resources on Assad, Hizbollah, Hamas & Houthis, while Iranians struggle. It should surprise no one #IranProtests continue. People are tired of the corruption, injustice & incompetence of their leaders. The world hears their voice. pic.twitter.com/1iw9JAXKC0
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 27, 2018
He added, “
#Iran’s corrupt regime is wasting the country’s resources on Assad, Hizbollah, Hamas & Houthis, while Iranians struggle. The world hears their voice. People are tired of the corruption, injustice & incompetence of their leaders. The world hears their voice.”
Iran has braced itself for the United States to reimpose sanctions following its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, in May. The country has done this by banning imports of over 1,300 products including home appliances, textile products, footwear, leather products, furniture, and healthcare products. The government argued that these goods could, instead, be produced in Iran.
The United States has made clear that it will sanction any nations that continue to import Iranian oil after 4 November.
The Islamic Republic’s economic woes have been blamed on several things including the regime’s decision to spend billions of dollars on financing its terrorist proxies in countries like Syria, where Iran is actively working to prop up President Bashar al-Assad,
In a surprising turn away from its generally anti-Semitic stance, which is replete with chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” – both long considered the “little Satan” and “great Satan” by the regime – Iranian protesters were chanting “Death to Palestine!” during the Bazaar protests.
They were also chanting, “Death to Khamenei.”