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.
U.S. supports extremism by refusing to collaborate with Russia on fight against ISIL, Deputy Russian FM says
Funeral of former Israeli PM Shimon Peres – who passed away Wednesday – to be held same day
Russia said Wednesday it was ready to relaunch talks in Geneva with the United States following the collapse of a ceasefire.
"I'm afraid that this bill will have dire strategic implications" for the United States, Salman al-Ansari, the president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), said.
Government is 17th since Jordan's King Abdullah II took throne in 1999
The UN Chief has condemned the recent attacks saying that those responsible have turned Syria into a slaughter house
Four nations have pulled out of the SAARC summit with Pakistan saying India is using SAARC to detract attention from Kashmir
Currently, over 7,000 Palestinians are languishing in Israeli prisons
They were savouring more than just the late September sun: it was their first normal schoolday after two years of brutal jihadist rule over their hometown.
Aleppo’s opposition-held Al-Mashhad district struck by vacuum bombs, local civil defense official says
Liberated Syrian town sees return of former residents sheltering in Turkey
Foreign Ministry in Moscow calls on US to release details of bilateral agreements on Syrian conflict
Peres was taken to hospital after suffering a stroke 2 weeks ago
No group has yet claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack
"The sunken boat was pulled out half an hour ago,", Wahdan al-Sayed, spokesman for Beheira province in northern Egypt said.