March 17, 2017
With the presidential election just 10 weeks away, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenehi last Friday chastised President Rohani for his poor economic performance, in what many saw as an unusual intervention in an election campaign.
Khamenehi did not denounce or ridicule Rohani. It was only a gentle chastisement. But it was odd for the Supreme Leader to make any critical comments at all about a candidate with the election so close.
Khamenehi was speaking about one of his favorite topics, his “Economy of Resistance,” which emphasizes domestic production as against imports and aims to make the country more self-sustaining.
He noted he had declared last year to be the Year of the Economy of Resistance. “Since no desirable move was made during that year, I designated this year as the year of ‘Economy of Resistance, practical steps and action’,” a slap at Rohani. Then he quickly added, “Of course, executive officials have taken remarkable steps in this field, but this is only part of the required steps.”
Khamenehi said, “If all necessary steps with regard to the Economy of Resistance had been taken, today we would be observing a tangible difference in the country’s economic conditions and in people’s lives.
“I have told the esteemed president that announcing indices is good, of course—if those figures are not disputable,” an apparent reference to attention given the drop in the rate of inflation and the rise in GDP growth. “But at any rate, these [indices] do not affect the lives and livelihoods of people in the short and medium term,” Khamenehi said.
“The public’s complaints and the viewpoints of scholars are sent to me. With regard to such issues as production, employment, suppressing recession and smuggling as well as imports and exports we must act in such a way that people feel the impact on their lives, but this is not the case right now.”
Khamenehi described “attracting foreign investment”—a major Rohani goal—as a positive step, but added, “So far, only a small number of foreign investment agreements have been realized. Therefore, we must not remain idle, hoping for and expecting their investment, but we must do things inside the country that we can do by ourselves.”
The Rohani Administration claims to have attracted large-scale foreign investment, but Khamenehi is more accurate as little foreign investment has actually entered Iran. But his appeal just to do things domestically ignores the fact that domestic capital is very limited and little can be done without foreign capital.
Khamenehi concluded, “The Economy of Resistance, with its strong intellectual and theoretical fundamentals, is the sole way to solve the country’s problems and it must be implemented.” Mainstream economists rejected the autarkic fundamentals of Khamenehi’s economic thoughts a century ago