More MPs join sit-in inside Lebanon’s parliament amid political crisis
Iran’s currency falls to a record low amid plans by the EU to expand sanctions on Tehran
JEDDAH: The troubled rial, Iran’s currency, fell to a record low against the US dollar on Saturday amid the European discussion on imposing new sanctions on 37 Iranian officials and organizations over the regime’s brutal crackdown on protesters.
Iran’s increasing isolation in the world community also comes amid warnings of Tehran’s growing role in fomenting unrest in the Middle East region and supplying drones that are causing massive death and destruction in Ukraine.
EU-Tehran relations have deteriorated in recent months as efforts to revive nuclear talks have stalled. Iran has arrested several European nationals and the bloc has become increasingly critical of the violent treatment of protesters and the use of executions.
At a meeting already scheduled for Monday in Brussels, the foreign ministers of the EU bloc are expected to agree on passing the fourth package of sanctions against Tehran over the suppression of demonstrators.
The European Parliament on Wednesday urged the EU to list the Iranian guards as a terrorist group, blaming the powerful force for cracking down on protesters and supplying drones to Russia. The assembly cannot force the EU to put the force on its list, but the text sent a clear political message to Tehran.
Panama’s shipping register, the largest in the world, has de-flagged 136 vessels linked to Iran’s state-owned oil company over the past four years, the country’s maritime authority said this week.
Demonstrations have swept Iran since the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, 22, on September 16 after she was arrested in Tehran for allegedly not following the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
According to the UN, Iran arrested at least 14,000 people during the wave of protests.
The authorities executed four people for their role in the unrest and handed down the death penalty to a total of 18, sparking widespread international outrage.
The EU has already imposed asset freezes and visa bans on more than 60 Iranian officials and entities for cracking down on protesters, including Tehran’s “morality police”, commanders of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and state media.
According to foreign exchange site Bonbast.com, the dollar sold for as much as 447,000 riyals on Iran’s unofficial market on Saturday, compared to 430,500 the previous day.
The rial has lost 29 percent of its value since the nationwide protests began.
Iran’s currency has lost 29 percent of its value since nationwide Mahsa Amini protests began on September 16. (WANA photo via REUTERS/File photo)
Central Bank of Iran governor Mohammad Reza Farzin on Saturday blamed the rial’s fall on “psychological operations” which Tehran said are being organized by its enemies to destabilize the Islamic Republic.
“Today, the central bank has no restrictions on foreign exchange and gold resources and reserves, and media fraud and psychological operations are the main factors behind the floating exchange rate fluctuations,” state broadcaster IRIB quoted Farzin as saying.
With inflation hovering around 50 percent, Iranians have looked to buy dollars, other hard currencies, or gold in search of safe havens for their savings.
Business website Ecoiran blamed the rial’s continued decline on an apparent “global consensus” against Iran.
“Increasing political pressures, such as adding the Revolutionary Guards to a list of terrorist organizations and imposing restrictions on Iran-linked ships and oil tankers…are factors pointing to a global anti-Iran consensus (which could affect the dollar rate) . in Tehran,” said Ecoiran.
Separately, Iran’s sports minister has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against teenagers at a football academy in the north-east of the country.
“A former Shahr Khodro football team media executive has claimed on social media that the parents of 15 players from that club and its academy have filed a complaint against the club and its coaches for sexually assaulting their children,” state-run IRNA news agency reported . Shahr Khodro football club is based in Mashhad.
On Friday, local newspaper Shahrara reported on its website that the club’s players’ families had gathered outside the headquarters of the province’s football organization to protest the “tragedy”.
(With Reuters, AFP)