May 19, 2019

SANCTIONS ARE WAR:

In Iran, economic struggles trump fears of US confrontation: Iranians would rather see tensions with Washington resolved through negotiations, but are prepared to fight if war breaks out (MEHDI FATTAHI and NASSER KARIMI, 5/19/19, AP)


The Associated Press spoke to a variety of people on Tehran's streets recently, ranging from young and old, women wearing the all-encompassing black chador to those loosely covering their hair.

Most say they believe a war will not come to the region, though they remain willing to defend their country. They think Iran should try to talk to the US to help its anemic economy, even as they see US President Donald Trump as an erratic and untrustworthy adversary. [...]

Still, many pointed to the economy, not the possible outbreak of war, as Iran's major concern. Iran's rial currency traded at 32,000 to $1 at the time of the 2015 nuclear deal. Now it is at 148,000, and many have seen their life's savings wiped out.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate is 12 percent. For youth it's even worse, with a quarter of all young people unemployed, according to Iran's statistic center.

"The economic situation is very bad, very bad. Unemployment is very high, and those who had jobs have lost theirs," said Sadeghi, the housewife. "Young people can't find good jobs, or get married, or become independent."

Retired accountant Sores Maleki speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in downtown Tehran, Iran, May 17, 2019. (Vahid Salemi/AP)
Sores Maleki, a 62-year-old retired accountant, said talks with the US to loosen sanctions would help jumpstart Iran's economy.

"We should go and talk to America with courage and strength. We are able to do that, others have done it," Maleki said. "We can make concessions and win concessions. We have no other choice."

But such negotiations will be difficult, said Reza Forghani, a 51-year-old civil servant. He said Iran needed to get the US to "sign a very firm contract that they can't escape and have to honor." Otherwise, Iran should drop out of the nuclear deal.

"When someone refuses to keep promises and commitments, you can tolerate it a couple of times, but then certainly you can't remain committed forever. You will react," Forghani said. "So I don't think we should remain committed to the deal until the end."

Posted by at May 19, 2019 8:37 AM

  

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