Need to Address People's Genuine Financial Concerns

Need to Address People's Genuine Financial ConcernsNeed to Address People's Genuine Financial Concerns

A lawmaker called for greater unity among Iranian officials in the face of price protests in several cities across the country, saying the government must work harder to tackle people's livelihood concerns.

Gholamali Jafarzadeh made the statement in an interview with ICANA on Friday, referring to anti-government rallies in Iran's second largest city Mashhad and several other cities to protest at high prices on Thursday and Friday. Up until the latest outbreaks, such demonstrations were often held by workers over lay-offs or non-payment of salaries or people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.

Jafarzadeh said officials would do well not to ignore the protests, which reflected growing discontent over rising prices among the public.

"The people's voice should be heard and [effective] measures must be taken to address problems."

"We can alleviate people's problems if we are united and  in consensus," he said.

Some reformist figures, including Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri, have suggested opponents of centrist President Hassan Rouhani might have triggered the protests."  

"Those who are behind such events will burn their own fingers," IRNA quoted Jahangiri as saying on Friday."

Jafarzadeh said opponents of the government must be wary not to excoriate the government's performance, as vilifying the incumbent administration could have repercussions for themselves.

"Those who [seek to promote] skepticism about the government should know that people see no differences between the government, establishment and system," he stressed. Rouhani's leading achievement, the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, has yet to bring the broad economic benefits the government says are coming.

This is while his principlist opponents believe the deal has failed to deliver substantial benefits and significantly turn around Iran's economy. Unemployment stood at 12.4% in this fiscal year (started March 21), according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, up 1.4% from the previous year. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million.

  US Intervention

Fars News Agency reported that small groups of opportunists had taken advantage of protests against rising prices to chant slogans against authorities and Iran's role in regional conflicts.  

The outlet said many marchers who wanted to raise economic demands left the rallies after some demonstrators shouted political slogans. The US has offered overt backing for the protests, raising speculations that the US intelligence services could be attempting to turn complaints over financial hardship into political protests.  

The White House, which has taken a harder line on Iran under President Donald Trump, condemned the arrest of some protesters by Iranian police on Friday.

"The Iranian government should respect their people's rights, including their right to express themselves," Reuters quoted White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders as saying in a statement.

The US State Department in a separate statement urged "all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption".

Trump has apparently revived the US policy of regime change toward Iran.

Two of his top officials, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have openly talked about the US need for what has been characterized as "peaceful transition" of the Iranian government.


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