Tough international sanctions on Iran have affected oil sales in a country where 80% of state revenue is oil-derived. Because of these restrictions the country also doesn’t produce enough petrol to meet consumer demand and must buy it from abroad. However, heavy government subsidies in the country have managed to keep increases in its price at low levels.
Shortages in medical supplies and hospital equipment is another problem that affects the daily lives of Iranians. Sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme are not directed at the health system, but restrictions on banking and trade have made the purchase of these essentials difficult.
“Patients who suffer from rare illnesses need medicine that is 100% imported from foreign countries. If the sanctions continue to affect supply, the life of those patients is in serious danger,” explains the Executive Director of the Foundation for Rare Illnesses, Doctor Ali Davoudian
Iranians believe that no improvement in their daily lives will take place unless the tough sanctions imposed on the country are lifted. The arrival of new president Hassan Rohani has given a glimmer of hope that the situation may change because of his openness for dialogue with the international community.
In Tehran, a top economist working with the Donya-ye Eghtessad newspaper is starting a civil movement to protest the economic sanctions imposed against Tehran.
Dr. Mousa Ghaninejad explained the focus of his campaign to euronews correspondent Olaf Bruns.
Mousa Ghaninejad: “It is a campaign, or a movement of Iranian civil society, to wake up public opinion in the West, Europe and the United States, about the economic sanctions. Iranian economists believe that there are two major problems with these sanctions.
“Firstly, the sanctions are against the rules of free trade and, secondly, they do not achieve the intended goals.”
euronews: “The sanctions have been in place for some time, why start a campaign now?”
Mousa Ghaninejad: “Two things have changed. Firstly, an election has been held in Iran and a moderate president has come to office who wants peaceful relations with the West. The other important issue is the very severe and very destructive impact of the increased sanctions on the lives of ordinary people, particularly the lower classes of society and the middle class.
“Nowadays, our country is facing big problems regarding medicine and food products. We want the world to know about these problems so that they can understand that such tools are not a good means for achieving what was intended.”
euronews: “If you think the US isn’t achieving what it intended, then who do you think is benefiting?”
Mousa Ghaninejad: “These economic sanctions, and in particular, intensifying the sanctions, will serve the radicals in Iran as well as outside Iran, in the US and in the global arena. In Iran, you see that some of these radicals consider the US and the Western economic sanctions as a blessing and they like the situation. Well, this should be a sign for Americans to show them who is benefiting from this.
“In fact, the sanctions weaken those who are looking for dialogue and a solution and they strengthen those who are not looking for solutions, those who want to maintain their extremist position. And they have many vested interests not only political, but economic even.”
euronews: “New sanctions have been passed in the US. How optimistic are you that your initiative will be a success?”
Mousa Ghaninejad: “We would have not done this had we not been optimistic about it. We are optimistic but what the Americans did a few days ago was very inappropriate and the timing was bad. But we know that within the US administration and even in Congress, there are people who are against these sanctions.
“We want to reach out to them so that, as the president said, we can achieve a result. Instead of the language of sanctions, they should speak the language of respect.”