Iranian rial plunges to record low amid anti-government protests, international isolation

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The Iranian currency, the rial, hit a new record low against the United States dollar, on Sunday (February 26) with nearly 600,000 rials to the dollar on the unofficial market. This comes as the country is reportedly in the midst of witnessing anti-government protests and for the first time is facing the impact of the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear deal. Furthermore, reports have also attributed this drop to the country’s increasing international isolation over its human rights violations and reportedly supplying drones to Russia. 

On the unofficial market, a US dollar was worth as much as 601,500 rials when compared to the day prior when it was able to fetch at least 575,000, as per Reuters. The dire economic conditions have forced Iranians to form long lines outside exchange offices in recent days hoping to receive increasingly scarce dollars as the local currency has deteriorated. 

According to Tehran’s statistics centre, inflation soared to 53.4 per cent in January which is up from 41.4 per cent in 2021. Amid the rise in prices and economic hardship, Iranians have turned to the US dollar or gold to protect their savings. Additionally, in a bid to calm the market and ease demand for the US currency, on Saturday, the central bank also lifted a ban on private exchange shops selling hard currencies in Iran. 

To put this amount into perspective, the Iranian rial was trading at 32,000 rials to the dollar when the 2015 nuclear accord was signed, reported the Associated Press, which had eased the sanctions on Tehran for limiting its nuclear activities. 

However, when former US President Donald Trump had withdrawn from the agreement and the sanctions on Iran were restored it affected the country’s economy. The move has since led to an increase in Iran’s production of Uranium, as per the United Nations nuclear watchdog. 

Iran’s economic conditions have also contributed to widespread anger among its citizens, as per reports, while the country’s officials have blamed it on “the enemies’ plot” to destabilise the Islamic Republic. The claim was made in the context of the months of nationwide protests after the death of Maha Ahmini after she was detained by authorities for her alleged breach of the dress code.

According to reports, protests have continued in parts of Iran despite the government’s harsh crackdown. Meanwhile, Tehran has also recently faced pressure from the West after accusations of supplying drones to Russia for using it amid its conflict with Ukraine, a claim that Iran has denied. 

(With inputs from agencies) 


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