The Supreme Leader of Iran clearly has no problem voicing his opinion on the performance of the current president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani. On Sunday, he issued a statement criticizing Rouhani for his comments on his policy of détente with the West, which he claimed had reduced the threat of Iran becoming involved in a war.
This was not the first time in recent months that Khamenei has voiced disapproval with Rouhani despite his promise not to intervene in the election. He also criticized the government’s economic record, noting that the 2015 nuclear deal had not produced the economic improvements Rouhani had originally touted.
A standoff between Rouhani, who is seeking a second term, and Khamenei allies has intensified in recent months in the run-up to the May 19th election. Many of these allies were critical of the nuclear agreement and point to the lack of progress as proof that they were right to oppose it.
“Some say since we took office, the shadow of war has been faded away. This is not correct,” said Khamenei, as he was quoted by state-run media. “It’s been people’s presence in the political scene that has removed the shadow of war from this country.”
The economy is a weak point for Rouhani, who has not seen the increase he anticipated. Instead, the average Iranian is still no better off in terms of jobs or economic security. Part of the problem is that while the deal removed a number of secondary sanctions, most of the primary ones from the United States remain in place. Thus, foreign banks are wary of doing business with Iran, for fear of crossing the U.S.
Some Western companies have returned, but many more are hanging back, fearing Trump will tighten the screws on an already complex set of rules for engaging with Iran.
Rouhani has always pressed for foreign investment, arguing that was the best way for Iran to improve its infrastructure and make the necessary improvements to tap into the global marketplace. As the second largest population in the Middle East, Iran is also an attractive market for foreign business looking to sell goods and services. But issues continue to abound, making it difficult to do business with Iran.
Wary of President Trump’s tough talk on Iran and even his administration looking to reinstate some sanctions, the international community is taking tentative steps regarding investment in Iran.