Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Wednesday that difficult times lay ahead for his citizens due to the tougher round of U.S. sanctions that will descend next week but promised unspecified government actions to alleviate their hardships.
“In the past few months our people have faced difficult times and it’s possible that the next few months will be difficult. But the government will use all its power to reduce these problems,” Rouhani said, as quoted by the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Agency.
Rouhani predicted sanctions against Iran would fail. “You will not be able to reach any of our goals with regards to Iran’s oil. You will not be able to bring it to zero or reduce it,” he insisted.
He called the upcoming sanctions “a new injustice from the Americans” and said the Iranian people “should know with certainty that the government has no fear of American threats.”
The Iranian president deflected popular criticism of his regime by claiming the protesters are actually “mad at America and its crimes, not at their government and its ruling system.”
In fact, the protesters have taken great pains to make it clear they are angry with Rouhani’s administration and the theocracy headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Complaints about the Iranian blood and treasure invested in foreign adventures are especially common. Some of the people involved in the last round of demonstrations made a point of chanting slogans like, “Our enemy is right here, they lie when they say it’s America.”
The Iranian teachers who went on strike two weeks ago were angry about government abuse of teachers and their advocates, bad education policy, poor wages, and high inflation. They did not have much to say about the United States.
This strike was followed by large street protests from Iranian pensioners who explicitly stated they were challenging the regime in Iran. Like the protest waves before them, they passionately criticized their government squandering money in Lebanon, Syria, and the Gaza Strip.
The 15 workers sentenced to 74 lashes and two years in prison on Tuesday for “disrupting public order” by taking to the streets in May most likely will not be cursing the United States when the whips rend their flesh.
CBS News on Monday looked hard for Iranians who blame the United States for their travails and managed to find one, a woman named Sarah Abadan who complained “the price of everything is increasing” and said the U.S. government is “awful.”
Even this report admitted that “demonstrations across Iran show there’s public fury with Iran’s own inefficient, corrupt government,” even though “people rarely say it out loud.”