ANKARA (Reuters) – Mounting pressure from the Trump administration combined with discontent among many Iranians at the state of the economy are rattling the Islamic Republic, with little sign that its leaders have the answers, officials and analysts say.
Three days of protests broke out on Sunday in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, with hundreds of angry shopkeepers denouncing a sharp fall in the value of the Iranian currency.
The disturbances are a major challenge, but analysts expect the leadership will survive despite factional infighting and growing economic problems.
However, the weekend protests quickly acquired a political edge, with people shouting slogans against Iran’s ultimate authority, Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other top officials, calling them thieves who should step down.
Bazaar merchants, mostly loyal to the leadership since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, are angry at what they see as the government’s muddled response to the crisis, which they said had sent prices soaring and made trading almost impossible.
The rial has lost 40 per cent of its value since last month, when President Donald Trump pulled out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord and announced draconian sanctions on Tehran.
These include an attempt to shut down the international sale of Iranian oil, Tehran’s main source of revenue, a threat that has cast a chill over the economy.
“The country is under pressure from inside and outside. But it seems there is no crisis management plan to control the situation,” said an official close to Khamenei’s camp.
Update 6:05am, July 2nd, 2018:
Update 8:17am, July 2nd, 2018: