The pressure imposed on Iran’s economy by U.S. sanctions and the ceaseless threat of regime repression have led many in the nation’s middle class to feel “imprisoned in the country,” an unnamed Iranian told the Associated Press Thursday as part of a series of interviews in the capital, Tehran.
Sanctions have tripled the cost of travel to nearby destinations that were previously far more affordable.
While Iranians had previously enjoyed some optimism following the implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, that sentiment has reportedly quickly soured into feelings of disenchantment as “the currency is collapsing, food prices have soared, some imported medicines are out of stock and even newsprint has become so hard to come by that some newspapers are scaling back or folding,” noted the AP. “For many Iranians, it’s a familiar but unwelcome feeling: trapped with little hope for a respite abroad.”
The increased cost of air travel to destinations that were previously easily accessible has made difficult for Iranians to leave the country.
Iranian passports are reportedly among the world’s most restricted for obtaining foreign visas, according to the Associated Press. Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, notes that this has “long been a source of enormous frustration and resentment for people that certainly predates Trump.” He reportedly added, “the question is … ultimately who do people blame for this state? Do they blame America? Do they blame their own leaders? Do they blame economic sanctions?”
Iranians have taken to the streets of various cities calling for a change to the clerical regime this year, chanting, “death to Khamenei” and “have shame, Khamenei” as the rial hit a historic low of 100,000 rials per one U.S. dollar and the economic crisis continues to deepen.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has continued to blame the United States, Israel, and the Mohajhedeen-E-Khalq Organization (MEK) for hatching a plot to create these uprisings.
Not all Iranians agree.
“We are in crisis because of the government and people don’t trust the government,” a 30-something Tehran resident, who requested anonymity, told the Associated Press.
Last month, Dutch airliner KLM announced it would suspend direct flights to and from Tehran starting on September 24. On Thursday, Air France and British Airways similarly announced they would end direct flights to Tehran on September 18 and September 22 respectively, citing low profitability.
Adding to the financial constraints most Iranians are already facing, the United States will impose a second wave of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports on November 4; the date is symbolic in that it coincides with the start of the 444-day ordeal known as the Iranian hostage crisis, which began in 1979.