Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, used his most important speech of the year to criticize President Hassan Rouhani and his administration’s economic performance. With presidential elections two months away, Khamenei's criticism opens the door for other conservatives to attack the president on a vulnerability.
The supreme leader's Nowruz (Iranian New Year) speech is similar to the State of the Union Address in the United States and delivered at the shrine of the 8th Shiite imam in the city of Mashhad, the most important site in the country for Iranian Shiites. In his speech on March 21, Khamenei discussed not only the previous year, but also laid out the most pressing issues for the upcoming year. Khamenei also proclaimed that this year, 1396, would be the “Year of Resistance Economy: Production and Employment.” The president is largely responsible for managing the economy, so it is up to the president and his administration to ensure that Khamenei's economic objectives for the year are met.