Here’s the Main Reason Iran’s President Is Warming Up to the West
Rouhani faces a plunging economy because of western sanctions that have cut into oil exports and other industries. Talks with the West is the only way to make it stop. By Tim Fernholz
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has been making all the right noises about diplomatic rapprochement: sending his best wishes for the Jewish new year, freeing political prisoners, and sending friendly letters to US president Barack Obama. Now, it seems, the two leaders may have a tête-à-tête at next week’s meeting of the UN General Assembly.
This might go counter to the narrative that Western dithering over whether to attack Syria has emboldened Syria’s ally Iran and its nuclear ambitions. (It’s worth remembering on chemical weapons, at least, Iran sees eye-to-eye with Obama: it really, really doesn’t like them after its war with Iraq). Instead, remember that all politics is local—and politics is essentially economics by other means.
Sanctions intended to punish Iran’s currency and block its oil exports have been taking their toll on the country’s citizens. Just look at how much Iran’s currency has devalued in the last year, per the IMF’s measurement of purchasing power in Iran versus a basket of other currencies. That’s a steep climb!