This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The United States, not the Iranian leadership, should be blamed for the country’s economic difficulties, Iran’s President Hassan Rohani has said.
Rohani said on January 30 that Iran was facing “the biggest pressure and economic sanctions in the past 40 years,” according to the presidential website.
“Our problems are primarily because of pressure from America and its followers. And the dutiful government and Islamic system should not be blamed,” he also said in a speech at an annual ceremony of allegiance to the late founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Rohani ended his address with a call for “unity,” saying Khomeini’s main concern was not foreign forces but domestic “discord.”
Rohani made the comments as Iran prepares to mark on February 11 the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that brought the current, clerically dominated regime to power.
This year’s celebrations come amid growing economic hardships after the United States last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.
The value of the country’s currency, the rial, has fluctuated dramatically in recent months, making it difficult for many Iranians to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, workers including truck drivers, farmers, and merchants have launched sporadic protests that have occasionally led to confrontations with security forces.