Turkish state media published a column Tuesday blaming the “deliberate ignorance” among Iran’s ruling elite for triggering the series of recent protests throughout the Islamic Republic.
“President Rouhani is neither the sole cause of the current economic crisis nor a barrier in the way of its solution,” Turkey’s state-run Andalou Agency wrote, adding:
The main barrier is the general and deliberate ignorance among the Iranian ruling elites. They are used to blaming unknown brokers for any economic crisis, giving the impression that the country is run not by the government but a bunch of brokers. Worse than this, they do not want to understand that the economy cannot be fixed by force.
The publication went on to note, “That is why, instead of addressing the grievances of the market, they are threatening it.”
Protests broke out last week at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar over the plummeting price of the Iranian rial to a record low of 90,000 rials per U.S. dollar, prompting Iranians to take to what is largely seen as the nation’s center of commerce armed with calls for the removal of Iran’s mullahs and “Death to Palestine.”
Iran has generally taken an anti-Semitic stance and chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” – both long considered the “little Satan” and “great Satan” by the regime – often fill the air during public rallies and Friday prayers.
More than 40 percent of Iran’s population is unemployed.
The Andalou Agency noted that, while Rouhani’s economic plan succeeded at first, “both pillars of President Rouhani’s economic plan ultimately collapsed. … Therefore, Rouhani had no preparations for the situation he is facing now. That is why there is a growing pressure on him, making some analysts predict that he may not finish his term.”
Last month, Iran’s state-run and semi-official ISNA news agency reported that Parliamentary (Majles) Speaker Ali Larijani said Rouhani’s administration has fallen short of confronting Iran’s deepening economic problem.
Rouhani has blamed the United States for Iran’s economic woes and said Iran is in a “fight” with the U.S., suggesting America is trying to damage the country by creating “an economic war.”
To this effect, Andalou Agency suggested the only way to solve Iran’s economic crisis is by “re-entering into a direct negotiation with the U.S. Contrary to the common perception, President Trump is more open to negotiation than any former U.S. president ever was.” The publication noted, “At the moment, Khamenei does not seem ready for such an option.”
The article from Turkey’s state-run media appears to turn away from Turkey’s attempts to build a closer relationship with Iran and Rouhani specifically in recent months:
The safest alternative for Turkey is to go preemptively for a third choice, which is to play a positive, mediatory role between the international community and Iran. The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal took place at a threshold of Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections. Therefore, Turkey’s positioning was not visible contrary to expectations. Now that the elections are over, Turkey should resume playing its due role. One of the most influential countries in the region with huge soft power in the Muslim world, and also as a member of the NATO, Turkey can emerge as the architect of a new deal between the U.S. and Iran. At the core of this diplomatic effort should be a direct negotiation between the Supreme Leader and President Trump.
In January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced support for Rouhani and expressed hope that the protests, which began on December 28, “will end in a few days.” The protests have not ceased.
Similarly, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “Iran’s stability is important for us. We are against foreign interventions in Iran. If the leadership is to change in Iran, the Iranian people will do this.”
Turkey has also sought ways to work with Iran and Turkey to end the ongoing civil war in Syria while isolating the United States.