DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranians fear the cost of living will deteriorate even more after additional sanctions on the US have come into effect on Monday, companies that are struggling to buy commodities, the sick and the elderly who can not afford life-saving medicines can.
FILE PHOTO: Iranians call out slogans on 11 May 2018 in Tehran, Iran, during a protest against President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from a nuclear deal in 2015. REUTERS / Tasnim News Agency
The United States will once again be restraining the country's important oil and banking sector on Monday to stem the archenemy's nuclear, missile and regional activities.
Iran's clerical rulers have downplayed the US move, but many ordinary Iranians seem concerned.
"All prices are rising every day … I can not imagine what will happen after the 13th Aban (4 November). I'm afraid. I am anxious. I'm desperate, "said elementary school teacher Pejman Sarafnejad, 43, a threefold father in Tehran.
"I can not even buy rice to feed my children or pay my rent."
The daily struggle to make ends meet has been getting harder for months: the economy has been hit hard by the reintroduction of a first series of US on-board storms in August following Washington's withdrawal from an atom deal between Tehran and the world powers in May.
Foreign companies of all kinds, from oil companies to trading houses to shipping, have stopped doing business with Iran for fear of US fines.
A food trader from Tehran's bazaar said: "I am very nervous because some goods are already scarce on the market and the rial has lost so much in value.
"What will happen after the reintroduction of new sanctions?"
The Iranian leadership says Tehran will not be under pressure to stop its missile programs or change its regional policy.
While some Iranians support their leaders' resistance, others fear that the economy, which has been weakened by sanctions, mismanagement and corruption, could collapse if the US puts more pressure on the world's # 3 exporter.
"Statements by government officials that … sanctions (wills) have no effect are political slogans," Washington-based lawyer Farhad Alavi said, focusing on US trade regulation and sanctions.
"The fact is that these restrictions significantly increase the transaction costs for Iranians."
Since the reintroduction of the first round of restriction in August, prices for bread, cooking oil and other staples have soared, and the country's national currency has fallen sharply.
Rice, one of the staples of the Iranian diet, has more than tripled since last year due to the Rial case.
Ordinary Iranians fear that saving Iran's oil sales could be the ultimate blow to the economy, as energy exports remain the country's main source of income.
The Iranian leader hopes that sanctions granted to eight buyers of Iranian crude oil, coupled with rising oil prices, will offset a reduction in the export volume of oil.
But even without the new measures due on Monday, it will be harder for Iranian business people to deal with it.
Around 70 percent of small factories, companies and workshops have already closed in recent months due to lack of raw materials and hard currencies, according to Iranian media.
Life grows harder
"I had to close my shop. The European companies that had a deal with me last year now refuse to return my phone calls, "said a businessman in Tehran who did not want to be mentioned.
Mohammad Reza Sadoughi says that ordinary people will bear the brunt of sanctions on patients such as cancer patients, food shortages and currency problems.
"My father has cancer, and with sanctions, the cancer drug on which his life depends will only be available at a higher price on the black market," said the 38-year-old government employee in the northern city of Sari.
The US sanctions allow trade in humanitarian goods such as food and medicines. Measures imposed on banks and trade restrictions will make life difficult for Iranian patients.
"At the end of the day, it is the Iranian people, striving to lead a good life, suffering from lack of sound mind under their own regime and unwilling to compromise with the world power (US)," Dubai said Iranian businessman Aftab Hasan, CEO of Arya Insurance Brokerage.
However, analysts say economic woes are unlikely to revive anti-government riots, such as the December demonstrations that have turned anti-government rallies into reality.
"I'm not interested in politics. I do not care who is responsible for our problems. I do not want a regime change. I just want to live peacefully with my family in my country, "said housewife Fariba Shakouri, 51, in downtown Yazd.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean