That Iran’s economy is floundering is no news to anyone. Numbers neatly compiled by The Wall Street Journal show that while President Hassan Rouhani oversaw a fragile recovery of the economy since his election, the twin travails of plummeting oil prices and the impasse in nuclear talks with the West have caused Tehran significant financial strife, leading its government to try to seek the true cause of the downward spiral (this, amid reports in the Iranian press purporting that the country’s economy has actually improved).
And, sure enough, a number of reasons – some quite contradictory – have emerged in Iran. According to The Telegraph, the country’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, blamed the recent slump in oil prices on a “political conspiracy” masterminded by Saudi Arabia. But that’s not all.
A second hypothesis, cited by The Wall Street Journal, pointed fingers at the US for pulling the strings behind the scenes of Saudi Arabia’s new oil strategy, in an effort to weaken its foes. The paper went on to disprove this hypothesis by claiming that Riyadh was acting against, not with, American energy firms and their increased output, which displaced exports to the US from OPEC members; the New York Post, however, asserted that Riyadh’s primary motivation in driving the price plunge was “breaking Iran’s will.”
Rouhani, meanwhile, described the glass as half full, saying that his administration had succeeded in cutting down the inflation caused by the housing plan implemented under his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Further criticism was levelled at Western sanctions, with a conference in Tehran highlighting their “harmful effects on Iran’s economy.”
So where does all this leave Iran? According to one recent report, somewhere between calls for a green, non-oil-based economy and a vigorous-as-ever push to achieve its nuclear goals – entailing, according to one recent report, using Georgia as a conduit for nuclear procurement even while thawing ties with neighboring Azerbaijan. Perhaps it’s in its priorities, and not in political plots, that Iran should be looking for the cause of its strife?