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now on bbc news, hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. when iran's president rouhani was convincingly re—elected in 2017, iranians seemed hopeful their living standards might improve. well, they haven't. inflation, poverty, water shortages and corruption on a host of measures, things that appear to be getting worse. now iran is again facing us sanctions after president trump walked away from that nuclear deal with tehran. my guest is iranian political analyst professor mohamed marandi. is iran on the brink of an economic and political crisis? mohammad marandi, in tehran, welcome
to hardtalk. thank you. there is a time delay on this line, but nonetheless, my first question isa simple but nonetheless, my first question is a simple one. there was a lot of hope around the re—election of president rouhani last year. it seems to have evaporated. why? well, obviously there are a host of difficulties that exist in iran, mostly economic. the dissatisfaction that exists in the country according to polls is focused on jobs and
inflation. but we have to
take into account the fact that the united states has not abided by its side of the bargain in the nuclear deal. when the iranians signed on to the nuclear deal, and gave significant concessions, they did this in order to ease tensions and to prevent the united states from continuing to have an excuse against iran and the americans were supposed to abide by their side of the bargain, and they didn't. under 0bama, they didn't. the united states in violation of the nuclear deal, they imposed new sanctions. the treasury imposed sanctions. the treasury imposed sanctions on companies and individuals. and new laws were passed by congress. the visa restrictions laws as well as the renewal of the iran sanctions act. all of these were in violation of the nuclear deal. in fa ct, violation of the nuclear deal. in fact, iranians, despite the fact they signed on to the agreement, weren't able to send money out of
the banks nor bring
in money. you've chosen in that answer to direct much of your response to lord donald trump and his policies towards iran, but i can't help but notice, looking at the wave of protest, will be an rest we see you filmed on social media and put online by iranians in various towns of cities, and we've seen it at the end ofjuly, we've seen it during the course of the last nine months in various towns and cities. the chant go like this, death to the supreme leader, death to rouhani, death to the dictator ship is. they say leave syria, think about us instead, these are the things many iranians are saying on the streets right now. stephen, you have to keep in mind that in iran we have very high
turnouts in elections. president rouhani was elected with a turnout of something like 73% or 74%. so the legitimacy of the political institutions in the eyes of the people is very high in the country. the fact protests happen in iran is not extraordinary, but i would like you to keep this in mind, unlike in western countries, where, for example, in the riots in london in 2011, where social media was being used by the rioters, or the protesters, or whatever you'd like to call them, the british government had the cooperation of blackberry, of facebook, of twitter, the people who instigated the riots, two young men, they were sentenced each to four years in prison in the uk and five or six people were killed, over three to 4000 people were arrested
and they were universally condemned. in the case of iran, you have a host of persian language foreign media outside the country based in the west, some of them government owned, like the british and government, american governments, some of them funded by governments that are almost universally inciting violence, for carrying out information warfare, trying to create a sense of depression and hopelessness among iranians 24 hours a date. professor macro, go mac —— a day. professor marandi, surely the anger we see on the streets in those protests a nd we see on the streets in those protests and the sense of dissolution, there's... not some sort of western inspired conspiracy, they're the product of things like inflation right now is rampant, some calculate it at running over 200% if one takes into account the plunge in the value of the iranian currency.
look at unemployment rates, look at the shortage of water, look at a whole host of different issues that are affecting the everyday lives of iranians. it's no western conspiracy to say iranians are thoroughly hacked off with life under this regime. well, i would say that it's the same sort of terminology regime that you use is a sign of how in the west iran is looked upon and has historically been looked upon. for almost 40 years now, iran has been a regime, and from the false narratives we see in the west, a regime that is illegitimate, that is violent, that is unpopular, that is corrupt and is about to implode. i've been hearing this since i've been a teenager and so far we haven't seen this happen. in fact, the unresolvable paradox here is
that on the one hand iran is a regime that is about to implode or explode, and on the other hand it's a growing menace to world peace and stability. so it's a growing threat according to the narrative, but it's also corrupt and collapsing. you can't have your cake and eat it too. the fact is in a run you have people that protest, and they are legitimate protest, and there are grievances but on the other hand there are external forces who have been trying very hard to turned legitimate protests into riots. it's very well documented, it's not a conspiracy, it's a reality. we'll get back to iran's external policies later because you make an interesting point about how the west see them, but let's stick with internal issues for a while longer. no question the us reimposition of sanctions, i'm sure you would agree with me, is a factor in the deterioration of late in the iranian economy, not least because it's
affected the value of the rial in a very effective way, the currency has plunged 50% in the last few months. here's and something your foreign minister zarif tweeted after the announcement of the reimposition of us sanctions, he said the world won't follow donald trump's impulsive tweeted diktats. he said, just ask the eu, russia, china and dozens just ask the eu, russia, china and d oze ns of just ask the eu, russia, china and dozens of our other trading partners. it seems iran was very confident that all the other signatories to the multilateral deal would continue their commitment to an open economic relationship with iran despite the reimposition of us sanctions, but it's not working that way, is it? i wouldn't agree with that assessment. i would say the world is changing. i would say the united states has shown itself to be unreliable by tearing up an international commitment. it has shown itself to have no respect for
european countries. basically come, by tearing up the agreement, has told the british, the french and the germans that you abide by my diktats and you follow my orders. and the europeans, either have to abide by us demands all they have to grow a spine. my point is simply that a host of european countries, companies, for example, i could quote you daimler, pokal, maersk, the shipping company, or peugeot, all of these companies have either abandoned plans or really rode back on plans to invest or put new monies into their iranian ventures because of the power of the us economy and the signal sent from washington that any business is now doing deals with iran will come under very close scrutiny and suffer consequences from the united states. the power of the us economy is something you guys
seem to have underestimated.” the us economy is something you guys seem to have underestimated. i don't think anyone iran underestimates it. the fact trump is behaving like a mafia boss is nothing to be proud of, and it's nothing to be proud of when a country is ordered by the united states not to co—operate with another country. that's what i was trying to say. iran is in a whole, and we can see it from the plunge in your currency to the abandonment ofjoint—venture deals and european investment. we can see it in the oil business, we're about to see it more in the shipping business as well because let's not forget, phase one of the reimposition of sanctions came on and made the seventh, but more expansive sanctions are going to come in in november. you can talk about the reality of it and the rights and wrongs of it, but in the end the iranian economy is in a very deep hole. the iranian economy is definitely going to face difficulty,
it is facing difficulty and it will continue to face difficulty in the months ahead but i assure you that iran will persevere. we've gone through many difficulties. in the 19805, through many difficulties. in the 1980s, when the united states was helping saddam hussein, giving him chemical weapons to use against the iranians, we survived. we were alone for eight years, one of the few countries that actually supported us was syria. we survived the camel corps attacks, i survived two chemical attacks, our country survived the war. we've gone through much worse —— chemical attacks. they've made significant mistakes over the past two months, they have to rectify those mistakes. but without a doubt, with over a few months the economy will stabilise and asi months the economy will stabilise and as i said, it won't be easy, nobody is claiming it will be easy but this is something that's been u njustly but this is something that's been unjustly imposed on the iranian people. the americans want to crush the iranian people and humiliate them and that's simply not going to
work. you call it crushing, the americans would say a fundamental realignment of iran's foreign policy is in particular. it's interesting, is it not, mike pompeo, when he talked about the strongest sanctions in history being imposed also pointed to the 12 us conditions that would see those sanctions lifted and, in essence, if one gets to the heart of it, they demand that iran completely end the significant bulk of its nuclear programme, they end further ballistic missile development, end support for groups like hezbollah and the houthis in yemen, and conduct a complete withdrawal from syria. now, isuspect conduct a complete withdrawal from syria. now, i suspect you're going to tell me absolutely none of that is going to happen, but in that case, iran is going to face indefinite and extremely punishing economic consequences? well, first of all, there are a host
of countries that will continue to co—operate with iran, especially asian countries. and i think across the world, people are keen rising that the united states is behaving ina that the united states is behaving in a dangerous manner, using the dollar, using financial institutions as weapons and this is something we're now seeing being used against turkey and that's going to continually isolate the united states. of course, the united states is still a very important power but what i'm saying is the world is changing as well. iran will not be able to change its foreign policy because iran's policy in syria and iran is what prevented isis from coming into iran. not only did iran stop the extremists that western governments helped create with the saudis, look at the intelligence agency document of 2012. the most important military intelligence organisation in the world, the pentagon, stated early on in syria the dominant militant forces were
the dominant militant forces were the extremists and they would create a salafists entity between syria and iraq. and the regional regimes that we re iraq. and the regional regimes that were allied to the united states we re were allied to the united states were supporting this. and then general flynn later on in an interview admitted he was the head of the organisation and he admitted the united states took a wilful decision to help its regional allies do this. what was the group that later made a regime between syria and iraq? it was isis. the united states helped the extremists. how can you stand back and allow syria or damascus have the black flags rise of them? you may make that point, i'm more interested in what this means for iran. there's no question, it's quite obvious that iran's strategic commitment to the support of the assad government and its own military presence in syria is long—term but it is also extremely expensive, one of the most respected experts on middle east
politics and diplomacy, nadeem jihadi, he reckons that it could have already cost iran up to 100 billion us dollars. all of its military and political commitment to the assad government since the war started. add to that the billion dollars or so every year that tehran spends on hezbollah in lebanon, add to that the cost now of iran's involvement in yemen as well, it comes back to what is sustainable and what is not sustainable in the context of the economy that we've discussed today. ayew telling me that iran's foreign policy is sustainable in economic terms ash are you. stephen, let's not talk about yemen. yemen is, there is a starvation siege imposed on the people of yemen by the saudi government without the western countries. western countries are helping the saudis starve the
yemenis and helping the massacre and slaughter of the yemenis. western governments are implicated in crimes against humanity. their leaders have blood on their hands. the canadian prime minister, who has had a fallout with the saudi government, was a very good enabler of saudi war crimes. if i may was a very good enabler of saudi war crimes. ifi may say was a very good enabler of saudi war crimes. if i may say so, professor marandi, iam crimes. if i may say so, professor marandi, i am not trying to discuss the rights and wrongs of the yemen wall, and believe me we put on the spot saudi officials, us officials, uk officials, for their responsibilities when it comes to yemen, but my point was a very direct one. you tell me that the iranian government will not in any way change its foreign and external policies. i put it to you that iran is increasingly going to find those policies unsustainable economically. no, iwas policies unsustainable economically. no, i was trying to respond. first of all, the country surrounding yemen, iran cannot help yemen. it could it should. when it comes to
syria and iraq, the international institute for strategic studies is by no means connected to iran. they say that iran's military expenditure is 19th in the world. iran spent less on its military than saudi arabia, than the israeli regime, than turkey, than iraq, than the united arab emirates, with eight passport holding population of1 million. either your numbers are incorrect or the international institute for strategic studies, whose job it is to institute for strategic studies, whosejob it is to monitor institute for strategic studies, whose job it is to monitor military spending, is nonsense. i have been to syria and times over the past seven to syria and times over the past seve n yea rs to syria and times over the past seven years and i have never seen such huge amounts of money being spent in syria. the united states spent in syria. the united states spent trillions of dollars in wars in iraq, destroying iraq, destroying libya, helping the saudis destroy yemen, and to a dirty war in syria.
they are the ones who have created this mess. let's bring it back to what is happening inside iran. you have not tried to dispute with me that economic times are tough and there is anger on the streets, we have all seen it. it is interesting to me that certain politicians, particularly former president ahmadinejad, are making calls for president rouhani to go and to go now. and even supreme leader ali khamenei is an it is afflicting a run. it does seem, and i know you don't like all this talk of hardliners against moderates and reformers, but it does seem, in the current context, as though the hardliners are making a concerted effort to regain complete political power in tehran. well, stephen, i am glad that you acknowledge in iran we have different legal parties with
different political perspectives that argue with each other and carry out public debates, because that is not the sort of narrative we here in the west. what we usually hear about iran is usually similar to what we hear about saudi arabia or the united arab emirates where there is no politics there is just a dictator who makes the decisions. yes, president rouhani, his position is not as strong as it was before, obviously, but he has the legitimacy, he is the president of the country, he was elected the leader supported him in his recent speech, because there is mismanagement in this country. there is mismanagement in your country. right now you are going through brexit and everyone is saying theresa may has made a mess of things, within her own party they are attacking the left, right, and sent up. that is politics. so in iran when we have politics it is called some sort of internal warfare. in the west is called democracy and checks and balances. warfare. in the west is called democracy and checks and balanceslj democracy and checks and balances.” don't know if it is called internal warfare, but one reason it is seen ina warfare, but one reason it is seen in a particular light in iran is what we do know and independent
human rights groups like amnesty international report this, is that those who expressed descent, particularly in times of rising tension, which i think we see in tehran today, those who expressed descent whether it be straightforward political or cultural as women fight for greater rights and freedom from oppressive laws, or whether it be religious, with religious minorities demanding an end to discrimination, what we see at times of tension is that more of those dissidents are locked up. and according to amnesty‘s latest report," directly, "heavy suppression of rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, as well is freedom of religion and belief, the government has imprisoned scores of individuals who voiced descent, trials are systematically unfair, torture and other ill—treatment widespread." that is what happens in tehran when tensions rise. first of all, amnesty international is not totally
independent. the head of amnesty international antil recently was a person closely associated with hillary clinton and who worked in the state department under hillary clinton —— until recently. it is based in the west and it is based on western so—called values. i wonder what those dark at times. if you are talking about political prisoners, it would be good to include people likejulian it would be good to include people like julian assange, who it would be good to include people likejulian assange, who was right now, in my opinion, a political prisoner being held in the heart of london because he is definitely has exposed the crimes of the us and iraq. because he has exposed the way hillary continues the democratic national committee to cheat her rival bernie sanders to be the canada for the democratic party, anne aly has been punished for. he been accused as reading two women. fa lsely been accused as reading two women. falsely accused as far as we know. then you have other people like helen thomas —— raping two women. you will have the right to question
what happens in other countries, but ina what happens in other countries, but in a format such as ours it is more useful, i think, in a format such as ours it is more useful, ithink, if in a format such as ours it is more useful, i think, if you in a format such as ours it is more useful, ithink, if you respond in a format such as ours it is more useful, i think, if you respond to my direct questions as to what is happening in your own country. when you see the level of repression in tehran today, do you, yourself, as an academic, as a man who knows the freedoms that come with academia and the need for freedom freedoms that come with academia and the need forfreedom of freedoms that come with academia and the need for freedom of expression, do you not worry about the curtailment of freedom of expression in iran today? come on, stephen, you just a few minutes ago was saying how the different political factions and the ha rdliners how the different political factions and the hardliners and the reformers and the hardliners and the reformers and the hardliners and the reformers and the moderates and they are all out at each other‘s throats, and what is that all about? because there is a freedom of speech in this country. there are arguments and debate. is it an ideal, is it a utopia? 0f debate. is it an ideal, is it a utopia? of course it isn't. we are also a country where we have the
united states surrounding us, we have us troops in the persian gulf, in iraq, in afghanistan, you have the united states constantly threatening the country, you have western countries funding groups and carrying out psychological warfare, if you have thousands of former terrace, you know them very well yourself, i'm sure, who fought for saddam hussein, they are paid trolls, they are constantly carrying out through multiple online personas and different accounts, psychological warfare against iran. and then, when the united states indict 13 russians for, what was it, creating political discord in the united states before the presidential elections because of a few facebook ads, this is double standards. the reality on the ground is that iran, despite the antagonism, and despite the hostility that is coming from western powers, is much more free than any of the us allies in this
pa rt than any of the us allies in this part of the world. all right. mohammad marandi, i thank you very much forjoining me from tehran. hello there. the weather pattern for the rest of this week and into the weekend looks pretty similar day on day and that is with more cloud, rain, stronger wind across the north and the west of the uk and the further south and east that you are, better chances of staying dry and bright with sunshine and feeling warmer. that process really will begin through wednesday, with an area of low pressure to the north—west of the country, a couple of weather fronts moving into northern and western areas, whereas further south and east it should stay largely dry. variable cloud, but also the sunshine breaking through at times.
although breezy, not quite as windy it as it will be across northern areas. thicker cloud with outbreaks of rain, blustery across the north and the west of scotland, eastern scotland for a time across the south, scotland into northern ireland in between the two weather fronts we could see a little bit of brightness. this first weather front will bring rain to north—west england, parts of wales and eventually into the south—west of england. 24, 25 degrees again across the south—east. another warm afternoon. as we head through wednesday night, that weather front will merge together and bring rain further south—east to parts of northern england, the midlands, wales and south—west england. ahead of it, another muggy, dry night. to the north—west of it, clear spells and blustery showers. some heavy and feeling cooler and fresher. heading on into thursday, that weather front continues to sink its way south eastwards, it also opens the floodgates into cooler, fresher air which will flood in across the country during thursday and last into friday. it will be noticeable particularly in the south—east. that weather front will take its time to clear the south—east. a grey, wet, blustery day across the south. further north and west it will be quite windy, with sunshine and showers, some of them merging through longer
spells of rain across the west of scotland and those temperatures range from 17—20 degrees, feeling much fresher right across the board, particularly in the south east. on friday we do it all again. another area of low pressure hurtles in off the atlantic to effect the northern half of the country, keeping things more settled across the south and the south—east. it's going to be a windy day across northern ireland, scotland and perhaps north wales. more cloud, outbreaks of rain, persistent across the western scotland. further east you are, quieter, some sunny spells and feeling just a touch warmer than it did on thursday, highs of 22 or 23 degrees. saturday looks fairly quiet but it is only more wind and rain, the best of the brightness and warmth in the south—east. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers
in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: devastating scenes as a high motorway bridge collapses in genoa, italy. at least 26 people have been killed. the rescuers behind me there are still trying to lift up several large slabs of concrete under which they believe several more vehicles may be trapped. a grand jury investigation in pennsylvania finds credible allegations of sexual abuse by more than 300 catholic priests going back decades. british anti—terror police are searching three addresses and questioning a 29—year—old man, arrested after his car swerved into pedestrians and crashed into a barrier outside parliament. an experimental treatment is being used to try to control an ebola outbreak in the democratic republic of congo.