If anyone was unsure what Iran's supreme leader thought of President Trump's offer to hold talks after the USA reimposed "the most biting sanctions" on Iran last week, all doubt has been removed, per Reuters.
The U.S. government last week reinstated a raft of economic sanctions that had been waived as part of the Iran JCPOA nuclear deal of 2015.
Iran's supreme leader has ordered a purge of banking and finance officials in response to its economic crisis after the head of the judiciary said that the country was facing "economic war". The sanctions target Iran's trade in gold and other precious metals, its purchases of USA dollars and its vehicle industry. "More than the sanctions, economic mismanagement [by the government] is putting pressure on ordinary Iranians", he noted.
But Khamenei criticised conservatives who called for Rouhani's resignation, saying they were inadvertently "playing into the hands of the enemy".
"With better management and more efficient planning we can resist the sanctions and overcome them", Khamenei said, in an apparent effort to deflect public anger over the deteriorating economy toward Rouhani's government.
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A fortnight ago, Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari told Rouhani to take "revolutionary actions to control prices and prevent the enormous increase in the price of foreign currency and gold", in an open letter published by the conservative Tasnim news agency.
"The corrupt people (officials) should be punished firmly", Khamenei said on Monday.
As Middle East Eye reported last month, the govenrment's attempt to unify the dollar's official and black market exchange rates completely backfired.
Thousands of Iranians have protested in recent weeks against sharp rises in the prices of some food items, a lack of jobs and state corruption. Trump has also threatened to penalize companies that continue to operate in Iran. They also ban purchases of U.S. dollars by Iran and sanction its automotive sector.