US sanctions hurting Iranians

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Iranian protesters burn an effigie of the US presidnet placed on huge prints of US 100 dollar banknote images during a demonstration outside the former US embassy in the capital Tehran on 4 November 2018, to mark the anniversary of its storming by student protesters that triggered a hostage crisis in 1979. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — The latest round of US sanctions on Iran’s vital oil industry may have just started on Monday but some Iranians say they have already become a basic fact of life.

“I don’t need the news to tell me that sanctions have started, I am feeling them in my bones,” said Farzad, a 65-year-old pensioner.

“Anyone who goes to the market to acquire their basic needs will feel the sanctions straight away,” he told AFP as headed to the Tajrish bazaar in northern Tehran for his weekly shop.

The last tranche of sanctions hit Iran on Monday, targeting its oil and financial sectors, following President Donald Trump’s decision in May to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Hit by months of economic turmoil since that decision, in part due to US pressure but also to long-standing problems in the domestic economy and banking sector, many Iranians were left nonplussed when the final sanctions hit.

“There have been sanctions forever, almost 40 years now, there is nothing new about that,” said Sogand, a retired college lecturer.

“America has power, so it bullies everyone. Not just us — they even bully the Europeans,” she added.

All over Iran, the mood is a mix of gloom and anxiety, defiance and anger.

“What we do is none of America’s business,” said Mehdi Mirzaee.

Lost cause

His defiance came in spite of considerable personal hardship after his textiles workshop was forced to close over the rising price of wool.

“America has been hitting at us for the last 100 years, but we will never become their servants,” he said.

Others said they felt naive for having dared to hope their country’s international isolation would end with the nuclear deal signed with six world powers, including the US, in 2015.

“When the nuclear deal was signed, we Iranians were very happy. We thought everything would change for the better,” said Fereshteh Safarnezhad, a 43-year-old teacher.

“But unfortunately we were treated dishonorably by both the American and Iranian governments. The Americans never really committed to the deal and the Iranian government did not spend the cash it got from the deal on the people,” she said.

Iranians were not holding their breath for a quick solution to the country’s economic woes.

“The problem is Iran’s economy was sick anyway. Even if sanctions were lifted immediately, it would take years to cure it,” Safarnezhad said.

For others it is a lost cause.

“You can’t keep on trying to fix things with trial and error,” Farzad said.

“The government has been trying for the last 40 years and they have failed. They are just not up to the job.

“They should resign and allow someone who can do it to take up the job.”

p: wjg

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