0230 GMT March 23, 2018
There are two ways to evaluate President Rouhani’s performance: First, compare Rouhani’s record with his predecessor; and second, evaluate his performance based on realities.
The main thrust of this writing is to depict what Rouhani has inherited from his predecessor. His performance will be evaluated in the following articles.
The situation of Iran at the end of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s term:
Iran had been isolated for years while no top official from powerful countries visited Iran, which meant no improvement of ties with those countries.
During the former administration, the UN Security Council issued several resolutions, one of which was to put Iran under Chapter 7 of the United Nations’ Charter.
Iran has never tried to develop nuclear weapons. But through its adventurous policies and wrong messages to the world, the former administration prepared the grounds for an international consensus against Iran which led to illegal and harsh economic sanctions against the country. The sanctions became a pretext for mafia-like groups at home to steal from the national purse in the name of circumventing the sanctions.
As a result of sanctions, the national currency depreciated more than 380 percent, which left its destructive impacts on many fields including people’s purchasing power, which pauperized a part of the population.
The former president’s speeches at the UN General Assembly depicted a belligerent image of Iran which helped Iran’s enemies rally many countries behind themselves.
The former president dissolved many councils and organizations, including the Budget and Planning Organization, which led to financial disorder and irregularities that paved the way for historically unprecedented embezzlements.
Many lawmakers have said on record that the former administration violated the law in numerous cases.
The manipulation of statistics, lying, and insulting respected personalities of the opposition became a norm during his administration.
Unemployment, corruption, decline of social values and impoverishment are some of the features of his administration.
During the former administration, Iran could neither extract as much oil as it needed from its oil fields, nor could it sell them to the customers it liked, nor could it receive the income from oil through proper banking channels.
During his administration Iran could not purchase its requirements from where it desired, and as a result had to purchase them on the black market, which not only cost the Iranian nation heavily but also caused corruption.
Iran could not exploit its joint oil fields with its southern neighbors, as a result of which the partners enjoyed those fields at the cost of Iran.
Despite the oil bonanza during the previous administration, which is estimated to have been hundreds of billions of dollars, at the end of that administration the economic growth rate was minus six percent, and the government treasury was almost empty.
No insurance company was ready to insure Iranian shipping lines; no bank was ready to deal with Iranian banks; no customer was ready to purchase Iranian oil; and no purchaser could pay Iran through banking channels.
His administration payed a meager amount as direct subsidies to the people, but surging prices devastated many businesses and families.
There was a stalemate in nuclear negotiations.
On the other hand, President Hassan Rouhani reached a nuclear deal, JCPOA, which led to the lifting of many sanctions and normalization of Iran’s ties with many countries and enterprises.
In the post-JCPOA era, several deals have been clinched with many countries; Iran’s oil exports have reached the pre-sanctions level; Iranian shipping lines are active again; many international insurance companies have come back; many big oil companies are back to Iranian oil fields; many car manufacturing companies are back; many private sector companies are back. For the first time in the post-revolution era, Iran has concluded deals with Boeing, Airbus, and ATR, and has received some of those aircraft. Moreover, according to the Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, Ali Tayyebnia, Iran has inked investment MoUs worth $50 billion with other countries in the post-JCPOA period.
Today, Iran’s economic growth rate is 6.6 percent (according to IMF) and, for the first time, the trade balance has shifted in favor of non-oil exports. The rate of foreign currency has to some extent stabilized. Normal ties with many countries and companies have resumed, and top officials from Europe and Asia have visited Iran and concluded many deals.
In spite of the above-mentioned facts, there are complaints in the conservative media and websites against President Hassan Rouhani’s economic performance. The main reason for these complaints is that President Rouhani inherited such a debris, the clearing of which will take years.
The same critics not only did not speak a word against the former administration for its devastating policies, but backed it unequivocally.
It is unlikely that the conservative supporters of the former president will have a different agenda from his. In other words, if any of his former or current supporters, or likeminded figures, come to power, the above-mentioned conditions will be looming large, which will be worse than those days because this time, the oil bonanza that filled the coffers of the former administration is not there. Consequently, those policies will have a more devastating impact on the entire nation – except for those who enjoyed the sanctions to fill their own pockets.