With the protests in the wake of the suspicious death of Mahsa Amini in police custody still in recent memory, Iran is expecting a new round of anti-regime protests provoked by the poor state of the economy. However, the regime does not appear to have a viable plan to improve the economy. The leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps urges patience, and President Ebrahim Raisi may be on the verge of adopting populist policies that, according to experts, could further weaken Iranians’ purchasing power. With eyes wide open, the regime appears to be moving toward more unrest.
- February 25: Shargh newspaper editor Ahmad Gholami argued in an editorial: “While a social issue led to social protests in the current year, some believe that the state of the economy may lead to political turmoil next year,” referring to the beginning of the Iranian new year March 21. “The government expressing such concerns is not necessarily a reflection of policymaking” to avoid the expected crisis but to psychologically “prepare society for future protests” and combat the “element of surprise.” Gholami urged the government to “manage the conflict” rather than “issue warnings, which will be largely ignored.”
- February 25: Donya-ye Eqtesad daily’s lead article covered the “Prospects for Iran’s Economy in 1402” conference, which focused on economic issues in the March 2023-March 2024 Iranian calendar year. In a speech at the conference, economist Hossein Abdeh Tabrizi warned of slower growth rates, decreased demand in the Iranian market, and increased inflation in the coming year.
- February 25: IRGC Chief Commander Major General Hossein Salami, addressing executives from the Iranian development organization Construction Jihad, said, as quoted by Asr-e Iran: “We are not averting our eyes from the problems and understand the economic hardships and fluctuations in the foreign exchange market. But the Cabinet and regime officials are working to alleviate those problems, and the nation should not surrender.”
- February 25: Reformist Etemad newspaper’s coverage of the Parliamentary Integration Committee’s plan to provide a universal gas subsidy to Iranian households, including those without automobiles, included comments from critics of the scheme. Mohammad Ali Khatibi, the former Iranian ambassador to OPEC, argued that the plan is “fundamentally illogical and only raises the level of expectations in society. When the government is in poor economic shape, such policies only increase the pressure on the already tight budget.” Mahmoud Khaqani, a former Oil Ministry official, commented: “This is neither logical nor economical … Why is nobody asking why there is a budget deficit and why it persists …? If enacted, this plan will result in poor people selling their subsidized gas rations to auto owners at inflated prices. Taxi drivers will in turn increase their fare, since they are purchasing their gas at inflated prices, and so will truckers and others involved in logistics, which will result in increased prices of food and other products. This will just result in higher inflation and decreased purchasing power for the people.”