Ever since the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Iran last week, tensions between the countries have continued to escalate.
Prior to the sanctions, Iran seemed open to meeting with the U.S. But then Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani quickly changed his tune when President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week rolling out new economic sanctions on Iran that are now effective.
“You cannot expect to talk to a person after you stab him and leave the knife in his body,” said Rouhani to IRIB state television. “If there is trust, Iran always welcomes negotiations. But negotiations don’t make sense while we are under sanctions.”
Even after signing the sanctions, Trump made it clear that his offer to meet for a discussion is still on the table.
Now, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also officially rejecting President Donald Trump’s offer. However, he did say that Iran won’t be responding with military action or war.
“Recently, U.S. officials have been talking blatantly about us. Beside sanctions, they are talking about war and negotiations,” tweeted Khamenei. “In this regard, let me say a few words to the people: THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S.”
Khamenei expressed similar sentiments as Rouhani and call the U.S. untrustworthy.
“I ban holding any talks with America … America never remains loyal to its promises in talks … just gives empty words … and never retreats from its goals for talks,” said Khamenei.
Following the sanctions, protests against Rouhani’s government saw a spike.
“Khamenei, whose remarks on Monday come amid a sharp fall in the rial currency that has prompted angry protests, criticized the government of President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist cleric who championed the 2015 deal aimed at ending Iran’s political and economic isolation,” writes Reuters. “Thousands of Iranians have protested in recent weeks against sharp rises in the prices of some food items, a lack of jobs and state corruption. The protests over the cost of living have often turned into anti-government rallies.”
The rial, Iran’s currency, has lost about half of its value since April.
Khamenei blames Iran’s economic problems on corruption, along with “domestic issues, management styles, and executive policy-making.”
So far, at least 67 people have been arrested as part of a corruption crackdown. The head of the central bank was fired and his deputy of foreign exchange was arrested.
Khamenei has desperately tried to come off as optimistic about Iran being able to prosper with the sanctions.
“More than the sanctions, economic mismanagement (by the government) is putting pressure on ordinary Iranians… I do not call it betrayal but a huge mistake in management,” said Khamenei. “With better management and more efficient planning we can resist the sanctions and overcome them.”
Author’s note: The political unrest is only going to increase as Iran fails to deal with its economic problems. Khamenei has the power to take away money from the “corrupt” wealthy people, but this is creating chaos in a government that is already losing control. Trump’s recent sanctions are truly having an effect already.