PHOTO: Supreme Leader greets audience at Friday’s ceremony at mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini
Iran’s Supreme Leader has warned the Rouhani Government against excessive pursuit of foreign investment in the quest for post-sanctions economic recovery.
The headline of Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech on Friday, marking the anniversary of the death of the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini, was yet another denunciation of the “enemies” of the “disloyal” US and “very evil” Britain.
However, his most significant remark may have been his caution that economic development through overseas links is “not an honor”, despite the completion of a nuclear deal in July 2015 and its implementation from January:
After the nuclear talks, the Americans said, “The nuclear deal with Iran must cause Iran’s economic integration into the international community.”…Now that the nuclear negotiations have led to results, [the Americans] want Iran’s economy to be swallowed in the digestion of the global economy, of which America is the leader.
Merging a country’s economy with the global economy is not an honor, but a damage….Economic independence will only be achieved through the Resistance Economy.
It is no honor if an economy is integrated into world economy, it is a loss. Economic independence is only possible with Resistance Economy.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) June 3, 2016
Upon confirmation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in January, President Rouhani assured Iranians that a “JCPOA 2” would bring the production, trade, and investment to repair an economy which lost almost 5% of GDP in 2013 and has been stagnant since. But the Supreme Leader chided the President in late March that no “JCPOA 2” should be pursued because of the dishonesty of the US. Instead, Ayatollah Khamenei said his vision of the Resistance Economy — a goal of self-sufficiency which he announced in 2012 — would be paramount.
The Government has continued to pursue billion-dollar investments from European countries such as France and Italy, as well as India, but has observed the red line of open contacts with the US. The situation has been further complicated by continuing and new American sanctions over Iranian ballistic missile tests and by European fears of US punishment if they restore links with Tehran. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a powerful force in the economy, are also wary of new investment because it might challenge their holdings.
Khamenei raised a question mark over even the European deals on Friday: “Attracting foreign investment is good and necessary, but enabling the country’s domestic capacities is more important. Everything must not depend upon attracting foreign investment.”
He reasserted that US interests are “180 degrees opposed” to those of Iran:
Most hostilities come from America and evil Britain….Using the experience of the [nuclear] negotiations to prove the necessity of distrusting America, the country’s trajectory and progress must continue.
In his address, President Rouhani implicitly rejected any claims of tension over the economy and his foreign policy of engagement: “With the guidance of Supreme Leader Khamenei, all the branches of the government are united and there is no dissension between the branches of the Government and the Supreme Leader.”