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Fighting talk: Iran's supreme leader calls for 'resistance economy'

Khamenei made the comments in the yearly Nowruz message [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 March, 2017

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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday reiterated a call for a self-sufficient economy despite its involvement in the Syrian conflict.

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Iran's supreme leader reiterated a call for a "resistance economy" that prioritises domestic production, on Monday, in a likely bid to shore up suppport for conservative factions. 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged officials to "focus on the key issues of domestic production and employment, especially youth employment" during a televised message to mark Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

The leader of the Islamic Republic said he could feel people's bitterness, especially among the working class, "in the face of economic difficulties including inflation, unemployment, discrimination and social inequalities".

No mention of Iran's involvement in Syria was made even though the costly intervention to prop up the Assad regime has proven costly to Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizballah. Both have spent significant sums of money. The war against Syrian opposition forces has also cost them the lives of over a thousand fighters.

Khamenei was speaking ahead of May elections in which President Hassan Rouhani is expected to stand for a second term but faces widespread criticism from conservatives over the continued stagnation of the economy.

"What has been done is far from the expectations of the people and the supreme leader," Khamenei added.

Since taking power in 2013, Rouhani's government has stabilised the economy, reducing inflation from 40 percent to less than 10 percent.

Probably most successful has its efforts in ending global sanctions through a nuclear deal with world powers.

But while oil sales have rebounded, helping boost growth to more than six percent, the rest of the economy remains largely stagnant.

Joblessness remains at 12 percent overall and over a quarter among the young, according to the latest official figures.

Meanwhile, foreign companies have signed a string of deals with Iran since the nuclear deal.

However, they are blocked from large-scale investments because global banks remain reluctant to engage with the country due to transparency concerns and uncertainty over continuing US sanctions.

Conservatives in Iran have questioned whether the concessions under the nuclear deal were worthwhile.

Rouhani defended his government's achievements over the past year during his own New Year message broadcast immediately after Khamenei's, mentioning "controlling inflation" and "spurring economic growth and employment".

Despite this, he said more efforts were needed to create jobs for young people, as well as to "control inflation and support economic growth".

 

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