During a recent trip to Iran, EuroNews correspondent Ali Sheikholeslami found that many Iranians are becoming unwitting vegetarians as they can no longer afford to buy meat. Following international sanctions against the country’s nuclear ambitions, inflation has soared, the Rial has crashed to about half its former value against western currencies, and locals are feeling the pinch.
Nichoas Kristof from the New York Times saw a different Iran filled with one night stands and thrill-seekers, but the newest round of sanctions will be felt by those who are already living on the margins.
Chicken of the poor
Sheikholeslami spoke with a retired teacher who asked to remain anonymous. With a monthly salary of no more than €360 a month, the €2 per kilo of chicken price hike doesn’t fit into his budget.
“We’ve turned to aubergine, the chicken of the poor,” the man joked. It has been three months since he has purchased any meat, which now costs about €6 per kilo in some parts of the country.
In January, EuroNews asked a Finance Ministry official whether a huge devaluing of the Iranian currency could be attributed to the sanctions that restricted Iran’s central bank. He brushed off the suggestion, no doubt wanting to appear immune to the west’s punishment for its ongoing nuclear weapons planning.
Stiff upper lip
But the latest round of sanctions, which prohibits countries in the EU from purchasing oil from Iran, will make it harder for officials, or residents, to keep a stiff upper lip.
Overall, Iran gets approximately 80% of its export revenue from oil, which have already fallen by 40% this year according to the International Energy Agency. Of those, the EU previously purchased 585,000 barrels a day, accounting for roughly 23% of the country’s exports.
EuroNews estimates that the latest round of sanctions could result in quarterly losses of €6 billion.
Even though British Foreign Secretary William Hague claims that the Iranian people will be largely insulated from the effect of sanctions, as food and medicine will be exempt, these economic restrictions are designed to put enormous pressure on the government to reconsider its nuclear ambitions. And each new wave inevitably brings greater hardship to the people.
image credit: Man with Aubergine, Shutterstock
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