World Bulletin / News Desk
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranian officials on Wednesday to stop bickering over mounting economic woes as Tehran grapples with Western-imposed sanctions, voicing concern heightened by the collapse of the rial currency.
"The country's officials should know and accept their responsibilities and not blame each other," Khamenei said in a televised speech in the northeastern city of Bojnourd. "They should be united and sympathise with each other."
The rial plunged some 35 percent in the free market to a record low against the U.S. dollar over the 10 days to Oct. 2, reflecting a decline in Iran's oil income wrought by tightened West sanctions.
Iranian savers have rushed to convert their rials into hard currency, and riot police briefly clashed with crowds protesting against the rial's slide near Tehran's Grand Bazaar last week.
By selling its remaining petrodollars to importers of basic goods at state-controlled rates, the government could succeed in preventing the currency crisis from crippling the economy.
But the rial's depreciation has hurt the government's credibility and threatens to aggravate inflation, which is already officially estimated at around 25 percent and believed by private economists to be cresting much higher.
In his speech on Wednesday, Khamenei said: "The illogical s anctions of the West are barbaric," and he acknowledged that inflation and unemployment were pressing problems.
IRAN CAN WITHSTAND SANCTIONS, KHAMENEI SAYS
But he insisted Iran could withstand the sanctions and brushed off last week's street protests, saying they consisted of a few people setting trash cans on fire.
He added that Tehran's merchants should be praised for distancing themselves from the demonstrations.
Khamenei also denounced Western officials who thought the rial's plunge showed Iranian weakness. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the depreciation arose from decisions by the Iranian government.
"Are we worse off or you? In the streets of major European countries there are demonstrations day and night ... The problems of the West are much more complicated than ours," Khamenei said, alluding to Europe's debt crisis.
"The West's economy is frozen. You are worse off and you are moving towards collapse and recession. These problems cannot bring the Islamic Republic to its knees."
Legislators announced on Wednesday that they had collected 102 signatures in favour of questioning Ahmadinejad in parliament and presented the motion to the deputy speaker. But there was no word on when this might happen.
Armed forces chief Hassan Firouzabadi said this week the central bank was primarily responsible for the currency crunch.
"The problems in the last few days were caused because some in the banking system did not pay attention and the central bank took some issues lightly," Firouzabadi said on Monday, according to the Fars news agency.
Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi was quoted as blaming the rial's descent on poor coordination between government bodies and a government failure to heed predictions made by his ministry as long ago as April 2011, Mehr news agency said.
Saudi Arabia beheaded 26 people in August, more than in the first seven months of the year combined.
Israel usually prevents Palestinians in Area C – established in line with the Oslo Accords - from building homes in the area under the pretext that the land is Israeli territory.
In Syria, the U.S. strikes hit a "stray" resupply vehicle from the U.S. airdrop of supplies earlier on Monday intended for Kurdish forces battling the militant group in Kobani
Greek Cypriot authorities said the Turkish vessel Barbaros, which collects seismic data, entered their exclusive economic zone
The judges are accused of supporting a "certain political group" by signing onto a July 24, 2013 statement that was read out aloud during a sit-in staged by pro-Morsi demonstrators
Israeli guards quietly occupied two purchased residential buildings in a Palestinian district of East Jerusalem, expanding a Jewish settler project in defiance of U.S. crisitism.
Funeral of party figure who died in exile turns into anti-coup protest when mourners cheer on overthrown PM Yingluck
The House of Representatives, Libya's elected parliament which has relocated to Tobruk in the far east, has endorsed Haftar's Operation Dignity, giving him an official role
Russian FM says only UN Security Council has right to form coalition against ISIL
Tens of thousands take to street to welcome 'Jokowi' as congratulatory banners seemed to occupy every available public space across the country’s thousands of islands
"Nigeria is now free of Ebola," WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz told a news conference in the capital Abuja.
Enas Khalil succumbed to injuries she sustained when she and a friend were hit by a settler's car as they walked home from kindergarten
Around 1.2 million Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon since civil war erupted in their country more than three years ago, according to the UNHCR
The 20-year-old, who did not named, left Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital following one week of treatment.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told British Prime Minister David Cameron he risked upsetting allies and losing international clout if he pursued an anti-immigration agenda designed to please domestic voters
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former vice-president Riek Machar are expected at the official launching of the talks