This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
President Hassan Rohani has told lawmakers that Iran will overcome newly reimposed U.S. sanctions and will show “the anti-Iranian officials in the White House” that the measures will fail to reach their goal.
Rohani was summoned before Tehran’s parliament on August 28 to answer questions about his handling of the economy amid a growing economic crisis, rising prices, and unemployment.
However, the lawmakers were not convinced by his answers and referred the case to the judiciary.
“The economic problems are critical, but more important than that is that many people have lost their faith in the future of the Islamic republic and are in doubt about its power,” Rohani said in his speech, which was broadcast live on television.
“We are not afraid of America or the economic problems,” he also said. “We will overcome the troubles.”
“I want to assure the Iranian nation that we will not allow the U.S. plot against the Islamic republic to succeed,” Rohani added.
“We will not let this bunch of anti-Iranians in the White House be able to plot against us.”
Members of parliament asked the president about the government’s failure in stemming unemployment, slow economic growth, and the free fall of the country’s currency, the rial — as well as the incapacity to put an end to cross-border smuggling operations.
Rohani told lawmakers that the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had been called in to help tackling the smuggling.
Lawmakers also inquired about the lack of financial reforms and asked why, more than two years after the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iranian banks still had only limited access to global financial services.
Members of parliament only found Rohani’s answer about the banking satisfactory and referred the rest to the hard-line judiciary.
Iran’s parliament has the power to impeach the president, but Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Rohani should be allowed to serve his entire term through 2021.
First Parliamentary Grilling
It is the first time Rohani, who is regarded as a moderate, has been summoned by parliament since he was elected in 2013, and is a victory for the hard-liners who have opposed his economic reforms.
Lawmakers were questioning him about his plans to shore up the rial, which has fallen in value by more than half since April, and rising unemployment.
His appearance comes days after Masoud Karbasian was ousted as economy minister, the fourth member of Rohani’s economic team to be removed in recent weeks.
His labor minister was voted out by lawmakers earlier this month and the chief and deputy chief of the central bank were given the axe in July.
The lawmakers have been blaming Rohani and his team for what many economists say is the result of a U.S. decision this year to withdraw from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimpose sanctions.
The fall of rial has been partly blamed on those sanctions, some of which were imposed earlier this month and others are due to be reimposed in November.
Most of Rohani’s hard-line critics were opposed to the nuclear deal and the rapprochement with the West that it ushered in, and many are now calling on Rohani to step down.
Rohani’s hard-line rivals lost to him at the polls in recent years, but some see the current crisis as an opportunity to return to power.
Rohani is believed to still have the backing of moderate conservatives, including powerful parliament speaker Ali Larijani.