By Alireza Ramezani for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
A small protest was held April 13 in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance building in the Iranian capital of Tehran, during which demonstrators gathered to criticize President Hassan Rouhani’s administration for not respecting the economic guidelines known as the “resistance economy.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who introduced the general policies four years ago to thwart the effects of US-led sanctions, designated this Iranian calendar year the year of “Resistance Economy: Action and Implementation” — a slogan that has since been exploited by hard-liners to accuse Rouhani’s economic team of poor performance.
The hard-line take on the “resistance economy” has led to misunderstandings about the concept — one of the most controversial in Iran. Indeed, far-right political groups seem to have used the supreme leader’s remarks to ratchet up pressure on Rouhani over his “liberal” economic positions.
The April 13 protest was not unprecedented. Hard-liners had also held a protest in March to criticize what they called “excessive” imports. That criticism comes as official data released by the Customs Administration show a sharp fall in the value of imports — from $53.4 billion in the 2014-15 fiscal year to $41.4 billion in 2015-16. Protesters, however, insist that massive imports have already led to the bankruptcy of many domestic manufacturers.
Hojatollah Abdolmaleki, a lecturer at Imam Sadiq University who attended the March protest, called for the strengthening of domestic production as a strategy that could “destroy the enemy’s weapon and help the country win the economic war.” In an interview with the semi-official Fars News Agency, Abdolmaleki expressed concern about the “inability of liberal economists to implement the ‘resistance economy’ program,” warning that there is a “semantic and theoretical deviation” from the original doctrine.