Rouhani lauds administration’s performance under unprecedented economic war
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said although the economic war waged by the enemy on the Islamic Republic since 2018 has been unprecedented in history, the government has managed to run the country successfully.
No precedent can be found throughout history for the US move of completely prohibiting oil imports from a country and blocking that country’s banking transactions and financial assets, Rouhani said in an address to the 61st annual assembly of the Central Bank of Iran on Sunday, IRNA reported.
In May 2018, under former president Donald Trump, the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed its unilateral sanctions on Tehran in a bid to bring the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table and hammer out a new nuclear deal.
Mainly targeting Iran’s oil and banking sectors, the sanctions, being part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, failed to produce the desired results thanks to the Iranians’ resistance.
Rouhani noted that, however, despite all the restrictions, the government has managed to run the country successfully and purchase sufficient amounts of essential goods.
He said that in the aftermath of the reimposition of the sanctions, the government implemented effective measures aimed at substituting the country’s oil income through boosting non-oil exports, adding the CBI played a very significant role to this end.
Rouhani said in spite of the tough circumstances the country was under, in 2019, the government managed to resolve almost all economic problems, regretting that, nevertheless, in late February 2020, “we faced the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Commenting on his administration’s response to the pandemic, the president noted that the number of hospital beds across the country has increased more than twofold over the past 18 months, and loans have been granted to COVID-hit businesses since the outbreak.
He described as favorable the situation and pace of the process of public vaccination against COVID-19 in the country.
Rouhani said in the previous calendar year, which ended on March 20, Iran’s economic growth was 3.6 percent, an achievement in which the government takes pride and made under the toughest circumstances and an economic war.
According to statistics, he noted, during late March-late June, 2021, Iran’s exports and imports grew by 69.2 percent and 37 percent, respectively, year-on-year, adding that a balance has been created between the country’s exports and imports.
The president said during his two four-year terms in office, under no circumstances did his administration borrow money from the CBI, always seeking to maintain its financial discipline, which is very important in controlling inflation and the monetary base.
He noted that during 2014-17, an average of 550,000 jobs were created each year, and inflation remained below 10 percent.
Rouhani said at the beginning of the tenure of his first administration in 2013, Iran’s economic growth was -7.7 percent, adding the significant decrease in the oil price in 2015 gave the government a tremendous shock, as crude value dropped from $104 per barrel in 2013 to about $30 a barrel.
He added that despite all this, in 2016, Iran witnessed an economic growth of 12.5 percent.
Iran’s annual economic growth at 3.6%: CBI
The economic growth of 3.6 percent was achieved in a condition that many countries affected by the consequences of the outbreak of the coronavirus registered a sharp decline in economic growth, IRNA reported.
In the past Iranian year, due to the measures taken by the CBI and the management and control of the effects of sanctions, the growth of gross fixed capital formation reached 2.5 percent, said Akbar Komijani, the CBI head.
“In the last three years, due to the sharp decline in government oil revenues and the budget deficit, as well as the active participation of the banking system in policies to support the financing of corporations and households affected by COVID-19, liquidity growth was reported higher than previous years,” he said.
The official added: “One of the most important measures taken in the field of monetary policy was the implementation of a new monetary policy based on open market operations.”
Providing of the needed capital for production units with the aim of maximizing the efficiency, financing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), guaranteed purchase of wheat, as well as the payment of facilities to deal with the negative effects of the coronavirus was among other priorities of the CBI, Komijani said.
Raeisi: Dialogue with neighbors priority of new Iranian government
Iran’s President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi said interaction and dialog with neighboring countries is top on the foreign policy agenda of his government that is expected to take office in less than two weeks.
Raeisi made the remarks during a telephone conversation with Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al Said on Saturday night.
He felicitated Omani Sultan on the Islamic occasion of Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice) and hailed growing relations between Tehran and Muscat, Press TV reported.
“The history of brotherhood among the two nations as well as friendship between the two governments is so deep-rooted and strong that regional and international developments have never been able to weaken it,” Raeisi said.
“Still, the interactions between Tehran and Muscat are far from the expected level. Thus, at the earliest opportunity, a comprehensive plan must be worked out under the supervision of experts from both sides to further develop economic ties.”
The telephone conversation came about two weeks after Oman’s Sultan visited Saudi Arabia on his first official overseas trip since assuming power last year.
Owing to its neutral foreign policy, Oman has long played the role of facilitator in efforts to resolve regional conflicts.
Raeisi described Oman as a reliable neighbor and a valuable partner for Iran.
“The expansion of relations in various political, economic and cultural fields is a completely achievable goal given the level of trust that exists between the two countries,” Raeisi said.
“Interaction, dialog, consultation and synergy with neighbors on important issues in the region will be the diplomacy priority of the 13th government,” the Iranian president-elect added.
Oman’s ruler, for his part, extended Eid al-Adha felicitations to Raeisi and wished him success as Iran’s new president.
“I have no doubt that ties between Iran and Oman will remain strong and these friendly and constructive relations will have a positive impact on all regional developments,” he said.
Sultan Haitham further appreciated Raeisi’s stance on interaction with Iran’s neighbors.
“Mutual political trust is one of the most important factors in the proximity of Tehran and Muscat. We will seriously pursue closer relations between the two countries in line with the interests of the entire region,” he said.
Leader urges officials to untangle Khuzestan’s water shortage
President-elect vows to address Khuzestan’s problems
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei urged officials to address the “painful” problems regarding water shortage in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, which underwent days of street protests.
“Over the past seven or eight days, one of our concerns has been the issue of Khuzestan and the people’s problems relating to the shortage of water. It is truly painful for one to witness that despite the loyal people of Khuzestan, its natural resources and potential, and the many factories existing in that province, things have reached a point in that province where the people have become dissatisfied and displeased,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in remarks published on his website khamenei.ir on Friday.
“Officials should pursue this matter. They should pursue these matters seriously. With God’s grace, when the new government takes office, it should seriously attend to this issue,” he added.
The Leader said the grievances of the people of Khuzestan are legitimate, adding that their complaints should have been addressed before to prevent the current situation.
“The people expressed their frustration, but no one can blame them, because the issue of water is not a small thing, especially in that hot climate of Khuzestan,” said the Leader.
Ayatollah Khamenei stated that he had repeatedly notified officials before about the need to address the water issue in Khuzestan, Press TV reported.
“If those recommendations had been followed, the current situation would certainly have not arisen.”
He said the governmental and non-governmental organizations have started work to address the issues in Khuzestan while urging the authorities to seriously follow the demands of the people.
Ayatollah Khamenei also cautioned people against playing into the hands of trouble-makers.
“The enemy seeks to use everything against the revolution, the country and the interests of the people; therefore, care must be taken not to give it an excuse.”
Khuzestan, Iran’s main oil-producing region has been gripped by drought since March, with protests erupting in several towns and cities since July 15.
Over the years, blistering summer heat waves and seasonal sandstorms blowing in from Saudi Arabia and neighboring Iraq have dried up Khuzestan’s once fertile plains. Scientists say climate change amplifies droughts, AFP wrote.
The day before, outgoing President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech that residents of Khuzestan had “the right to speak, express themselves, protest, and even take to the streets, but within the framework of regulations”.
Iran’s President-elect SeyyedEbrahimRaeisi said on Sunday that resolving Khuzestan’s problems will be among the main priorities of his administration.
First VicePresident Es’haqJahangiri, who traveled to the region on Friday, said the government will do whatever possible to resolve problems in Khuzestan.
On a visit to the province,Major General Hossein Salami, the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, said the IRGC will live up to its commitments to the people of Khuzestan and will stand by the people in the hardships and the water crisis.
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said the security forces had been ordered “to immediately release those detained during the recent incidents in Khuzestan who had not committed a criminal act”.
Referring to Khuzestan’s population, Shamkhani tweeted on Friday that “to feel discriminated against is more painful than drought and water shortage”.
Iran’s shooter Foroughi wins historic Olympic 10m air pistol gold
The first day of the Tokyo Olympics saw Iran’s Javad Foroughi clinch a historic shooting gold.
The Iranian – a two-time ISSF World Cup gold medalist – tallied an Olympic record of 244.8 points in the men’s 10m air pistol final for a first-ever Olympic shooting gold for the country.
The win also made Foroughi, 41, the oldest Iranian to ever grab an Olympic medal.
Trailing Foroughi by 6.9 points, Serbia’s Damir Mikec took the silver, while China’s Wei Pang finished on 217.6 points to add a bronze to his Beijing 2008 gold and a bronze in Rio four years later.
Iranian Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, in a message, congratulated Foroughi’s medal while he hoped for “more medals in Tokyo.”
Iranian gold medalist was rewarded with a €10,000 prize by the National Olympic Committee of Iran.
In the volleyball event, a five-set thriller in Pool A saw Iran come from a set behind to beat the European powerhouse Poland 18-25, 25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 23-21 at Ariake Arena.
Amir Ghafour made the biggest contribution to Iran’s victory with 19 points, followed by Meisam Salehi and Milad Ebadipour, who chipped in 18 and 17 points respectively.
Wilfredo Leon Venero topped the scoring for Poland with 23 points, while Bartosz Kurek scored 20.
Next for Iran is a match against Venezuela, who were beaten in straight sets against the hosts on the opening day, Monday.
Elsewhere, Italy overcame a two-set deficit to beat Canada.
Premier: Iraq doesn’t need U.S. combat troops
Resistance factions demand pullout of all foreign forces
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said his country no longer requires American combat troops, but a formal time frame for their redeployment will depend on the outcome of talks with U.S. officials this week.
Kadhimi said Iraq will still ask for U.S. training and military intelligence gathering. His comments came in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press ahead of a planned trip to Washington, where he’s slated to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden today for a fourth round of strategic talks.
“There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil,” said Kadhimi, falling short of announcing a deadline for a U.S. troop departure. Iraq’s security forces and army are capable of defending the country without U.S.-led troops, he said.
But Kadhimi said any withdrawal schedule would be based on the needs of Iraqi forces, who have shown themselves capable in the last year of conducting independent missions against the Daesh terror group.
“The war against Daesh and the readiness of our forces requires a special timetable, and this depends on the negotiations that we will conduct in Washington,” he said.
The U.S. and Iraq agreed in April that the U.S. transition to a train-and-advise mission meant the U.S. combat role would end but they didn’t settle on a timetable for completing that transition. In Monday’s meeting at the White House, the two leaders are expected to specify a timeline, possibly by the end of this year.
The U.S. troop presence has stood at about 2,500 since late last year when former president Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000.
The U.S. mission of training and advising Iraqi forces has its most recent origins in former President Barack Obama’s decision in 2014 to send troops back to Iraq. The move was made in response to the Daesh’s takeover of large portions of western and northern Iraq and a collapse of Iraqi security forces that appeared to threaten Baghdad.
“What we want from the U.S. presence in Iraq is to support our forces in training and developing their efficiency and capabilities, and in security cooperation,” al-Kadhimi said.
Iraq declared victory over Daesh in late 2017 after a ruinous and bloody war. The continued presence of American troops has become a polarizing issue among Iraq’s political class since the U.S.-directed drone strike that assassinated Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on Iraqi soil last year.
Call for pullout of all forces
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Resistance Coordination Committee, which consists of representatives of anti-terror factions within the PMU, underlined the need for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country.
In a statement carried by Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV channel, the committee warned that the meddling of foreign forces in Iraq’s security is meant to spy on the work of the country’s security agencies, adding that the mission of the U.S. Air Force in Iraq is to defend the security of Israel and spy on the resistance.
“We stress the resistance’s conditions not to allow the presence of any foreign military personnel on Iraqi soil,” it added, according to Tasnim News Agency. “The pullout of foreign occupying forces from Iraq must be done completely from all Iraqi territory in order for the process to be real.”
Ammar Hakim, a powerful Iraqi Shia cleric and head of National Wisdom Movement, expressed hope that the Iraqi delegation’s talks with the U.S. would take into account the country’s interests through their professional conduct.
Navy chief hails ‘historic’ presence of Iranian ships in Gulf of Finland
Iran’s Navy chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi described the sailing out of Iranian ships to the Gulf of Finland, the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea, as “a historic event.”
He made the remarks on Saturday upon arrival in St. Petersburg, Russia to attend the annual parade celebrating the Day of the Russian Navy.
Iranian Navy destroyer Sahand and accompanying support vessel Makran have arrived in the Russian port city to join the parade, Press TV reported.
On Sunday, the Russian Navy celebrated its 325th anniversary with the parade of over 50 combat ships, vessels, submarines and windjammers and about 4,000 personnel. About 50 aircraft took part in the naval parade’s flyover. The parade was held without spectators due to the tense epidemiological situation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the event.
Khanzadi said that the two Iranian ships, which began their voyage a few months ago, have now reached the Gulf of Finland and St. Petersburg waters.
“In this long voyage, these ships entered the world’s strategic areas, something that is unprecedented,” he added.
The Gulf of Finland extends between Finland to the north and Estonia to the south, and Saint Petersburg to the east, where the Neva River drains into it.
The presence of Sahand and Makran in the Gulf of Finland is “a historic event,” Khanzadi said. “This success means the opening of the gates of the North Sea and Finland to the fleet of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army.”
The Iranian Navy chief also said that during his visit, he would meet high-ranking Russian military and defense officials as well as his counterparts from the countries participating in the Russian naval parade.
Khanzadiarrived in Russia at the invitation of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.