The stark reality of life in Iran right now is that one can dream, but cannot afford it

Iranians have no choice but to live, or not to live. A visit to the bazaar: the hardships of working in Tehran and a city

A woman in her 60s said that people are not happy. “But we’re forced to get along ’cause there’s nothing else we can do.” On this visit to the bazaar, she was just looking around, she said. Many Iranians are struggling to stretch paychecks that don’t go as far as they used to.

Young Iranians are unable to find jobs that match their college degrees. Amir, 24, is an architecture graduate who sells clothes in a Tehran mall. Most of his classmates from engineering school are working as shop clerks or taxi drivers, he said. He asked that the last name not be used because he was afraid of reprisals.

Living with his parents because he could not afford rent, he said he could not imagine ever renting an apartment, buying a car, getting married or having children.

Political protests in Tehran: the death of Mahsa Amini, the face of crime, and the fate of Iran’s economic future

TEHRAN, Iran — The shops packed side-by-side in the enormous labyrinth that is Tehran’s Grand Bazaar run the gamut from spice dealers to carpet salesmen to cramped stalls hawking knockoff designer goods. All of them seem to have a thing in common, which is that prices are up.

Then she succinctly summed up how people are feeling about daily life: “We have a nice saying in Iran. The first 100 years of life are difficult, according to us. The rest is going to be easy.

It’s been more than five months since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. The so- called morality police accused her of wearing improper attire and not covering her hair, which led them to detain her.

In Iran, economic problems have been a common thread in many waves of protest. There were demonstrations over the course of two years. Huge crowds descended on the streets due to fuel prices in 2019.

He said that Iran’s runaway inflation is caused by how much money the government prints to fund its spending, and by corruption at state-owned banks. He said that investors are reluctant to invest in Iran because of the history of companies being taken over.


The Iranian regime is making a lot of money from politics: Taxes, imports, importing, and selling oil: a report by Y.S. Laylaz

A car? A house? Are you going to start a family? He said it was out of reach. It’s just a dream and we won’t get it. I can only dream, but I can’t afford it.

“The materials are foreign. The silk is from China. The merino wool is from Australia,” he said. The weakened rial has made it more expensive for him.

Then there are the sanctions. When the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018, it reimposed tough sanctions, including a ban on importing carpets from Iran. More than 70% of the carpets were used to be sold to customers outside of Iran. Now, it’s more like 10% — mostly Chinese or Russians, who are not bound by U.S. or European sanctions.

Others held the US responsible as well. “We’re under the boots of America,” said a 75-year-old man selling old camera parts on a sidewalk in Tehran. The awful sanctions are making life hard for everyone.

Asked what he’d like to see the U.S. do, he responded: “America hasn’t really done anything for us — ever, ever. If we want to do something then we have to do it for ourselves.

Laylaz, the economist, said that although the Iranian regime likes to use the U.S. as a scapegoat, “All pain which you see in our streets comes directly from mismanagement.”

Oil exports are being hit by US sanctions. According to some estimates, the extensive web of restrictions that snapped back into place when the Trump White House abandoned the nuclear deal in 2018 has cut Iran’s oil revenues by half.

The government “injected oil income into society” to reduce wasteful spending and improve economic productivity, according to a report by Laylaz.


Iran’s economic and political discontent is a “ticking time bomb,” says an Iranian analyst with the International Crisis Group (NPR)

Iran and world powers have been trying to reach a deal that will see sanctions lifted in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear development.

Ali Vaez, an Iran analyst with the International Crisis Group, said that the mix of economic and political discontent in Iran was a “ticking time bomb.”

He said it was because of the terrible death of Amini that another triggered would have happened. “There’s just so much pent up frustration within the Iranian society,” he said.

Vaez said that the poor economy and corruption may be the reason why parts of the country have lost interest in the protests.

He said that there is not enough cushion to engage in a long-term confrontation between the state and society. The protesters are armed with nothing but their bravery.

Still, some of the Iranians who spoke with NPR expressed a belief that the protests may yet achieve change, even if daily life at the moment felt impossible.

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