As the Trump administration deliberates over the future of the nuclear deal with Iran, candidates in the Islamic Republic’s May 19 presidential election have turned its underwhelming economic impact on ordinary Iranians into a wedge issue.
A new campaign video released by hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi — who is said to be close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — portrays incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, who is running for re-election, as a stooge of the wealthy.
Images in the video dart between street children and substandard housing to mansions with swimming pools and Western-style apartments. The underlying message is that Rouhani — in his desire to bring foreign investment back to Iran following the July 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers — has ignored the needs of the most vulnerable members of society.
Yet, on paper at least, the Iranian economy is showing signs of recovery. “The World Bank Institute report showed that growth last year was at 6.4 percent,” said Emanuele Ottolenghi, an Iran expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank in Washington, DC.
“An important component of the recovery comes from the return to almost pre-sanctions levels of oil sales,” Ottolenghi told The Algemeiner. “The dark side of this is that the wealth hasn’t trickled down to the ordinary people, so there hasn’t been a boom effect on the economy.”
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