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Rohani Calls For Unity As Iran Faces 'Unprecedented' Pressure From Sanctions

Iranians, shown here shopping at a bazaar in Tehran, have been hit hard by the country's economic crisis.

Iran's president has called for unity among the country's political factions to counter mounting economic difficulties amid increasingly damaging financial sanctions imposed by the United States.

Hassan Rohani on May 11 said the "pressures by enemies is a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic Revolution," according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

"Today, it cannot be said whether conditions are better or worse than the [1980-88 Iraqi] war period, but during the war we did not have a problem with our banks, oil sales, or imports and exports, and there were only sanctions on arms purchases," he said, speaking to activists from various interest groups.

"But I do not despair and have great hope for the future and believe that we can move past these difficult conditions provided that we are united," Rohani added.

President Hassan Rohani (file photo)
President Hassan Rohani (file photo)

Iran's economic crisis has worsened over the past year, in part due to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions after Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The sanctions on Iranian oil and metal exports were designed to increase pressure on Tehran to give up what Washington labels as "malign" activities, such as attempting to develop nuclear weapons and financing militant activity in the region. Tehran denies the charges.

Amid high levels of inflation and skyrocketing living costs, workers in both the private and public sectors have taken to the streets and gone on strike to protest against poor working conditions as well as delays and nonpayment of wages.

Rohani has faced criticism from Iranian hard-liners, and the pragmatic president has also been abandoned by some of his moderate allies.

Meanwhile, the United States has been bolstering its military presence in the Persian Gulf and Middle East to counter what Washington sees as a growing threat from Iran.

The Pentagon on May 10 said the USS Arlington amphibious assault ship will join the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a B-52 bomber task force already headed toward the Persian Gulf after U.S. intelligence reports suggested Iran was planning an attack of some type in the region.

Trump's national-security adviser, John Bolton, on May 5 said the aircraft carrier and its strike group were being deployed over unspecified "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings."

He and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have warned Tehran that it would face "unrelenting force" if Iran attacked U.S. interests or its allies.

With reporting by Reuters, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, and IRNA
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