Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday urged Iran's leaders to stop arguing about the deterioration of the economy of the Islamic Republic. "The country's leaders should know and accept their responsibility and not blame each other," he said in a televised speech made in the city of Bojnourd in northern Iran.
He made these comments amid a growing dispute between government agencies and political factions about the reasons, which led to the collapse of the local currency, the rial.
Opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hold his government responsible for the economic meltdown. Parliament Speaker and likely presidential candidate, Ali Larijani, in particular had harshly criticized the Iranian president.
"The Western barbarian sanctions are illogical," said Ali Khamenei, referring to the international sanctions imposed on Tehran to force the government to reconsider its nuclear program.
The Supreme Leader stressed, however, that Iran could withstand such sanctions and he downplayed the events of last week, when hundreds of Iranian protested against the deteriorating living conditions in central Tehran. According to the Iranian Supreme Leader, the protest involved just a handful of people. It should be mentioned that riot police faced violent protests at Tehran's Grand Bazaar, which was forced to close for three days.
Khamenei also denounced Western officials who see the collapse of the rial as a sign for a general weakness of the Iranian economy. "The western economy is frozen (...) In the streets of major European countries, events take place day and night," he said, noting Western economic problems were more serious than those faced by Iran.