In February 2019 the Iranian Revolution will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Unless it is toppled by another revolution, this time fueled by the regime’s inability to provide a decent living to the citizens.
Since the beginning of 2018, Iranian currency is in free fall. The inflation is rampant and the dollar gained 375 on rial in the first three months of the year. These are all signs of a deeply troubled economy and the measures taken by Iran’s government may prove too much for their people to handle.
The crisis has been caused by the statements made by the United States president Donald Trump about his intentions to exit the Iran Nuclear Deal. Several attempts have been made to persuade him to change his mind, but there are indications that he is determined to go through with his threats and pull America out of what he describes as “insane” deal. The May 12th deadline he has given to his European allies is fast approaching and it appears that the agreement will be canceled. President Trump’s intentions in case the deal is dropped are unclear and may include a variety of actions, re-imposing sanctions against Tehran being on top of the list.
The limitations placed on purchasing of the foreign currency, mostly dollar, and euro, have forced many Iranians to trade them in back allies, effectively breaking the law and risking prison. The regime has also proclaimed that 10,000 euros is the maximum amount a citizen may have at any moment, forcing them to either sell the surplus to the government at a loss or place it at a special account, controlled by the Central bank, making it easily accessible to the regime.
President Hassan Rouhani has managed to alienate his most staunched supporters by this move, the country’s middle class, which have helped him take power by the massive demonstrations against then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stolen election in 2009 and voting for Rouhani in 2013. The economic crisis also means that lower class isn’t getting its wages on time, turning them against the regime as well. This only leaves the military supporting the government and once their salaries start to dry up, the mullahs may find themselves in a tough spot.
One thing the United States can do to speed up the process is to re-impose sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank, which will make it almost impossible for Tehran to fight currency depreciation and inflation, pushing the entire country into an economic nightmare. It is debatable whether this would be enough to cause a massive outpour of anger big enough to depose the regime, but it surely won’t be beneficial for them.