Tehran’s chaotic Grand Bazar offers cheap products for those who can’t afford pricier options.
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Valiasr Street, the 19-kilometer boulevard that Shah Reza Pahlavi built in the 1930s to link his summer palaces in the north of Tehran to a new train station in the south, connects two increasingly polarized Iranian worlds.Opponents call the government extravagantly paid elitists, uninterested in either protecting the poor or building the "resistance economy" mandated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to thwart the sanctions. Rouhani's allegedly pro-Western, neoliberal economic policies favor Iran's wealthy, these critics claim.On the face of it, Iran appears to be doing modestly well since the nuclear deal with major world powers last year took effect in January.The International Monetary Fund forecasts the Iranian economy will grow more than 4 percent this year.That's widely blamed on the U.S., which has kept in place non-nuclear-related sanctions that continue to dissuade large international banks from doing business in Iran.Abyaneh said the U.S. was never going to allow an end to sanctions because that would undermine its enduring strategic goal: to keep Iran weak and overly dependent on oil. Rather than promote investment in a diversified Iranian economy, the U.S. wants Iran to spend its oil revenue on the kind of imported goods seen in at the northern end of Valiasr, he said.Sanctions at least forced Iran to rely on its own resources, he said.
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