Speaking to the semiofficial Ruidad 24 website, ‘reformist’ Mehdi Pazoki criticized Kayhan daily’s piece about financial dilemmas, arguing, “Instead of dealing arbitrarily, handle it scientifically.” Kayhan is the mouthpiece of the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Since May, the Iranian regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi made a series of decisions under the banner of ‘economic surgery’. The surgery, however, has shrunk people’s food baskets more than ever.
In a televised interview on May 11, Raisi’s interior minister Ahmad Vahidi declared that several food staple prices would soar, saying, “The cost of chicken, egg, dairy, and cooking oil will [increase] according to the reforming plan.”
The Iranian government has removed subsidies, prompting public protests across the country. In response, authorities have mercilessly quelled demonstrations with teargas, birdshot, and even live ammo. Security forces murdered at least five people and detained many more.
It appears that public protests have ignited political rivalries. Observers believe this shows that the cruel crackdown on defenseless people has failed, and the continuation of public grievances has disappointed some authorities with oppressive measures.
Kayhan wrote, “If the people pay for economic reforms, they will receive subsidies.” Pazoki responded by stating, “Kayhan’s thinking is outdated and fundamentally wrong. Had the people known in 1979 that ‘Kayhan mentality’ would rule the country, they would not have revolted.”
Raisi’s allies are claiming that citizens are receiving compensation for removing subsidies. Pazoki added, “Unfortunately, financial assistance has yet to be objectivized in Iran, and we are only distributing money.” He also admitted to the extension of poverty across society and the country’s vulnerable economy, stating, “According to official statistics in March, we are paying subsidies to more than 95 percent of the population, while we should try to make the economy healthy again.”
He further stated, “[Officials] irrationally and uneconomically say we increased prices but will pay the difference as a subsidy. We may only control inflation via exercising monetary discipline in the banking system, financial discipline in the budget bill, and administrative discipline across the country.”
Pazoki also challenged the Raisi cabinet’s claims about increasing prices for a limited number of goods, saying, “These people either don’t live in society or don’t understand. Of course, I believe that they do not understand, and we suffer from ignorance. They have not felt that the prices of hundreds of items have been raised.”
In another quote, he admitted that the regime has auctioned national resources for political advantage. He said, “The foreign policy is in service of the country’s development and progress in all developed countries. However, the economy depends on foreign policies, leading to the greatest damages to Iran’s economy.”
Pazoki slammed Raisi’s foreign policies, particularly regarding the nuclear deal, stating, “This government ignores the country’s interests. They did not send [former deputy foreign minister Abbas] Araghchi, a principlist loyal to the Supreme Leader to negotiations. Instead, they have sent [Ali Bagheri Kani], who opposes the deal and does not understand English.”
He added, “Had the government been smart, it would have established relations with the rest of the world. Why can’t officials realize that joining the Financial Action Task Force organization is in our favor? Why are their close allies, China and Russia, the FATF permanent members? But they avoid joining while we are supposed only to be an associate member?”
Aside from his political views, Pazoki has highlighted a precise fact about the Raisi cabinet, concluding, “All of these are due to several inexperienced people taking the reins of power. They suddenly traveled outside and took government posts. They did not care about national interests.”