For the second time in as many months, Iran’s parliamentarians have decided to axe a senior minister in the regime responsible for economic performance. In July, they ousted the minister for labour, a not-so-subtle warning that they are frustrated with the decline in the nation’s economic performance. That move was also an acknowledgement that the widespread street protests by ordinary Iranians frustrated with rising prices, the sharp depreciation of the rial, the surge in the black market and the general fall in living standards, was reaching the elected representatives.
On Sunday, the parliament decided to sack Finance Minister Masoud Karbasian, with a vote margin of 137 to 121. The action sends a clear message that as far as the majority in parliament is concerned, the economy and need for urgent measures to bring change is the only issue that matters to Iranians.
It’s a message that needs to be heard by the ruling echelons in the regime. President Hassan Rouhani has already taken action by firing the head of the central bank. While symbolic, that goes nowhere close enough to bringing about real economic change, lowering prices or putting more money in the pockets of Iranians.
The crux of this financial crisis, however, is that the top echelon of the regime is focused for now on its sole purpose of spreading its sectarian agenda across the region from the Bab Al Mandab to the Mediterranean. And if it continues to pursue this goal at the expense of its economy and to the detriment of its people, there will be a widening and dangerous disconnect that will effect real change. For years, Iran has squandered the nation’s resources and risked its financial future by investing in a nuclear programme that was not solely meant for peaceful purposes, investing in developing submarines and aircraft, navy ships, army barracks and facilities, ballistic missiles and stealthy sea mines. It invests heavily in the militias who have divided and destabilised Iraq, control civil discourse in Lebanon and keeps the regime of President Bashar Al Assad in power, and who threaten the long-term peace and stability of Yemen.
If Iran’s parliamentarians seek real action on the economy, then they must take measures to ensure that the nation’s coffers and vast resources are invested in the Iranian economy, not on spreading sedition and advances sectarian causes across the region. Time is running out and the regime’s leaders cannot keep saying: “Let them eat cake.”